I have discovered a superpower and I’m going to share so you can be a superhero too. I’ve discovered that by just being with whatever is going on in my body, I am more likely to remain “in charge”. Last night, I was staying with a friend in Devon. As I snuggled down in bed I experienced the familiar meltdown my body goes into when it comes into contact with feather bedding. I noticed my throat closing, my ears becoming unbearably itchy and cascades of mucous filling my nose. I often have a pretty extreme reaction to feathers, dust or cats (my lips and eyes swell, I start wheezing, my head explodes with a thousand scratchy critters attacking me from the inside out), but this time I did something different.
I tapped my chest soothingly and spoke to my body
“Hey body, it’s OK, you are just reacting to feathers, you’re going to be alright, this is NOT an emergency, just fall into a deep sleep and relax, you’ll be fine”.
And guess what… the symptoms eased off and I slept pretty well! How awesome is that? Bodies are remarkably obedient (I discovered this once when I told my 2 year old sternly to STOP bleeding and sure enough the gory pumping action ceased instantly).
Another triumphant moment was when I got uncontrollably triggered by my son attacking his sister. I wanted to whack him, but somehow managed to whisper to myself like a seraphim through the sound of blood pounding in my ears
“It’s not an emergency, you’re flooded, you need space, keep the children safe”.
I closed the door on my son, telling him to calm himself and I’d be back, grabbed my shrieking, struggling daughter, tossed her into her room, put on an audiobook, went into my own room and closed the door. I rang my sister
“I’m overwhelmed, help me focus on my legs”.
She asked me questions about how my legs were feeling and I returned to my body. I was calm and no-one got hurt, or frightened. Genius.
What I have found most helpful is remembering that when something feels like an emergency it most probably is not. If I can get back into regulation, everything feels manageable again. These examples might sound very minor to you, but what feels so exciting is that it means I get to be in charge rather than at the whim of my reactions. I get to choose how to direct my life energy.
Which situations tend to feel like emergencies in the moment for you? What secret code can you develop with yourself to stay lucid in these episodes?