(Originally sent by email 7/25/18)
“People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit.”
~ Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize winning author
Thank you, again, to everyone who reached out after my last Wednesday Wisdom.
I love reading your stories, and I love connecting with you through our common experience.
It’s amazing how the soul lights up and does a little dance when it’s touched by the caring contact of another person. 🙂
I’ve been sharing with you my 4-pronged attack against debilitating panic and anxiety – a condition that basically stole 6 months of my life earlier this year.
As I mentioned in a previous letter, my 4-pronged attack wasn’t something I mapped out ahead of time and then strategically implemented, step-by-step.
I just started doing stuff I hoped would work.
It was only after I started feeling better that I took the time to look back and figure out how I did it…
…(mainly in case I ever need to do it again…which isn’t unusual for mental health issues…and so I could share it with anyone else who was struggling like me.)
As I look back, I can see that everything I did went toward healing a part of my body…
…my psychological body…
…my energetic body…
…my spiritual body…
…and my physical body.
I shared the first 2 prongs of my attack in the last two letters, which you can find on our blog, if you missed them.
Today I’ll share how I healed my spiritual body.
For me, the spiritual body is about the soul – that part of us that animates our physical body and gives us our true nature.
It’s the part of us that holds our dreams…our purpose…and our inherent gifts.
The bubbling spring where joy is born…
…and the place within us that lights up when we create abundance in our lives and have a positive impact on our world and other people simply by living out the greatest and truest expression of who we are.
It’s also where we become disconnected.
It turns out, living the greatest and truest expression of who we are isn’t all that easy.
We squash our truth so we don’t rock with boat with family, friends, clients, peers, and the interweb haters.
We get lured by money and do things we hate simply because it pays the bills and we can’t see another path (or we’re too afraid to take it).
We try to belong by buying things, joining groups, and attending events that make us look good and important and successful…
….even when they’re not in line with who we are, or what we really WANT to be doing with our time and money.
And we get wrapped up in the never-ending pursuit of more…
…more money…more success…more impact…a nicer car…a bigger home…a fancier vacation…more validation…and more significance.
None of these things are inherently bad, but when we’re constantly in the pursuit of more…
…by default, we’re also forever living in a state of ‘never enough’.
And since the soul only knows abundance and “enough”, the state of “never enough” always leads to disconnection.
We all do these things from time to time throughout our lives – it’s part of the human condition.
But when you do them long enough and consistently enough, that’s when you get into trouble…
…like a lost hiker in the woods who took a wrong turn miles ago and didn’t have a clue until night started to fall and the cold started settling in.
That’s where I found myself 6 months ago.
I remember my therapist asking me questions like, “what are your hobbies?”, “what do you like to do?”, and “what brings you joy?” and I couldn’t even answer the questions.
I had no idea.
That’s how far I had strayed from my true self, and it was a huge contributing factor to the crippling panic and anxiety I was experiencing.
To find my way back, I had to do things that allowed me to tune into the voice of my soul and listen to what it was saying.
You see, mental health conditions leave you living in your head most of the time…
…and your head is where Captain Bring Down lives.
He likes to spin tales of fear and catastrophe.
He’ll remind you of all the bad stuff in the past and predict even crappier stuff for the future.
Your soul lives in your body.
She doesn’t speak as loud as Captain Bring Down, but if you can find ways to turn up her volume, while putting a muffle on the Captain, you’ll find your way back to joy.
Meditation, epsom salt baths, and gratitude lists were 3 key practices I used to quiet the mind and tune into the soul.
But the two things I did that helped the most were journaling and simply asking myself an important question on a regular basis.
There were 2 ways I used journaling.
The first was to process rage and negative thoughts – a process called “journal and burn” that my therapist turned me onto.
When you journal and burn, you write down every nasty, fearful, hateful, angry thought in your head.
You don’t edit yourself…you don’t try to stay between the lines…you don’t think about the words you’re using…and you don’t stop until you’ve emptied your brain.
For me, that often looked like pages and pages of barely legible handwriting littered with f-bombs and massive frustrations.
The benefit is that you get all that sludge out of your head.
And to keep it out, the key is this: when you’re done, don’t read it.
Tear it out of your notebook and immediately burn it, shred it, or rip it into pieces.
That tells your brain you’re letting it go, and it also gives you the freedom to write whatever you want because you know no one will ever read it.
There were days I had to do this practice 2 or 3 times, but it did help muffle Captain Bring Down because he couldn’t just spin away in my head gathering speed and fuel.
The other way I used journaling was to write about what I wanted. But since I didn’t know what I wanted, I had to find round about ways of getting there.
I used colored pens and wrote in a color that resonated with how I felt that day.
Sometimes I just picked a topic, like “Happiness”, “Purpose”, or “Soul”, and wrote all the words that came to mind for what I associated with that subject.
And sometimes I used a set of story time dice that my friend, Yanik Silver, gave me.
You roll the dice to get a hero, a villain, a vehicle, a setting, an obstacle, a tool, and a prize and then you write a story that involves all of those elements.
It was a great prompt for me to create a story around what I wanted, how I was going to get there, and what I was going to overcome.
Using this kind of journaling allowed me to get clarity on who I was at my core, what I liked about myself, what gifts I wanted to use more, and what things brought me joy.
Asking myself this
Once I started figuring out a few ideas on what I wanted more of in my life, and what brought me joy, the next key was asking my soul (not my head) this question on a regular basis:
“What do I need right now?”
And then immediately following through on the answer.
Funny enough, my soul never gave me one of the answers my head gave me…
…answers like “I need more money”, “I need to do more”, “I need to be more places”, “I need to know that person” or “I need to be more perfect.”
My soul’s answers were far more simple…
“I need to rest.”
“I need to get outside.”
“I need to workout.”
“I need to write.”
“I need to call my best friend.”
“I need a hug from my husband.”
“I need to laugh with my team.”
One time I even got the answer, “I need to go to church and pray”, even though I haven’t been a practicing Catholic for years.
But I did it, because that’s what my soul wanted in that moment.
What I found was that the more I asked t he question and followed through on whatever answer I got, the happier I became.
Then bigger stuff started to come up, like..
…“I want to work on this project for the business because it makes me happy.”
…”I want to write about this because it makes me feel helpful and gives purpose to my pain, and that makes me happy.”
…”I want to go to this workshop because learning more about this topic and mingling with those people would make me happy.”
And the more I say ‘yes’ to those things, the happier I get.
And the happier get, the closer I get to living the fullest and truest expression of who I am.
And I’m pretty sure everything else I want in life springs from that place.
So my school-of-hard-knocks advice to you today is this: if you’re struggling…if you’re anxious, panicked, or depressed…or if you’re just not happy and you have no idea how to find your way out…
…find a way that works for you to get the microphone out of Captain Bring Down’s hands, and hand it over to your soul.
Ask it what you need right now. In this moment.
The answers you get will probably be pretty simple. So simple in fact, you’ll think it’s not worth doing.
But start there.
The soul will only give you bigger and better answers if it trusts you’ll follow through.