The warranty on my car is about to run out & it has been having a couple of intermittent issues. Since I didn’t have any face-to-face sessions or parties booked for my side gig this week, I thought I’d save a couple of hundred bucks by not getting a rental that I didn’t really need.
The few commitments I did have this week are in walking distance to my house (<2 miles). Plus I figured the seclusion without wheels would be a good time to focus on a couple of full day projects I have been avoiding. In my head this was all a perfectly acceptable plan when I scheduled to drop my car off Monday morning.
I had prepared for the week by making sure I had done my banking & grocery shopping on Sunday. Plus logically I know that it’s 2020 – Uber, Favor, Prime, Walmart. I can have anything I want on my doorstep, seriously in a matter of minutes. I personally happen to be a fairly frugal individual.
Monday morning rolls around, and I am GRUMPY. One of those wake up on the wrong side of the bed days. There were several small frustrations that piled up, but more than anything I realized I was experiencing high levels of anxiety. It seems the closer I came to not having my wheels, the more out of control I felt.
This thought of being “stuck” at any location and not being able to control when I come or go brings back all these childhood feelings. I experienced this uncomfortable state frequently – wether it was during fighting between my parents, or the constant being passed back and forth life for divorced kids, or the really bad things happened when I was little. A common theme of my childhood was I don’t get a say.
My adult life is tailored (more extremely than I realized) to making sure I do have a say at any given moment. Not having my car means I don’t have near as much freedom and independence as I am accustomed to. This was a decision I had made in my wise mind (the benefit of the saved money was worth the trade off of being stuck at home). But as the time approach I could feel the anxiety rooting deeper in me.
So how did I handle it?
- I noticed it as it was occurring. Mindfulness of emotions allowed me to say – Hey Jamie you seem to be overreacting at these little frustrations. What’s really going on here? Oh ya that feels like some anxiety intermingled in there.
- Once I observed & described my anxiety, I leaned into it so I could hear the message it was conveying to me. What is the fear thought/belief that is causing my to currently experience this emotion? This line of inquiry allowed me to identify the childhood “hangup” that caused the initial firing.
- I used checked the facts. Are there any parallels between my current situation and then? Yes, I don’t have the ability to get in my car and leave at any given moment. But I live alone (so I don’t need the ability to escape from anyone) & I was actually looking forward to this short period of isolation when I planned it. So anxiety doesn’t fit the facts to the current moment.
- Fear isn’t valid in the current situation, but I do know where the past hurt it is coming from. So I take a moment to validate and soothe that old wound. Young Jamie didn’t get anyone to hold her and tell her it was ok to feel how she did in those moments of chaos. This is a moment of healing. When I can acknowledge the realness of the pain she suffered and soothe that little girls hurts, then they don’t need to continue to re-appear each time life slightly resembles old cycles.
- I gave myself some more time & did a favorite distract technique. I moved my drop off appointment back and detoured at Goodwill for an hour of Monday bargain hunting. I got grounded and allowed my emotions to return to baseline before I handed over my car.
I’m always telling people DBT is all about skill stacking!!!!
I combined five skills:
Observe & Describe
Mindfulness of Emotions
Check the Facts
Activities (from Wisemind ACCEPTS)
This grouping allowed me to stop my anxiety in its tracks and unravel this whole tangle of childhood stuff that was obviously still impacting me. Validation of those childhood hurts is such an important piece to the puzzle.
This was an old emotion impacting my current life.
When these things come up, it can be disheartening. Why is it still effecting me? I challenge you to change your perspective. Each time an old wound reappears – instead of seeing it as a burden to bear, reframe it as an opportunity for growth. Can you soothe your initial pain? You likely didn’t have the skills to when it happened (I sure didn’t as a child). You do now. You are ENOUGH, you can be your own HERO. You can begin by just acknowledging, validating & grieving when these moments arise.
What skills do you use when you find yourself triggered by old hurts? How do you stack your DBT Skills to be more effective? I would love to hear about your journey in the comments! There is so much we can learn through the sharing of our personal stories.
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