I do all my usual techniques for calming my anxious mind: breathwork that I call "even keel breathing" (It has a fancier name and instructions on how to do it here); reframing the stories that are on replay in my head; and asking myself (and hearing my coach's voice say) "Is that true, Kathleen?" when I catch my thoughts traveling downward into a negative spiral.
- Is it true that Christmas will be a disappointment for the boys?
- Is it true that I need to overextend myself financially to make people happy?
- Is it true that the measure of everyone's happiness is proportionate to the number of presents under the tree?
My husband, Bill, doesn't wrestle with this kind of thinking. He shrugs his shoulders when my voice gets high and squeaky with stress. "It is what it is," he says, not unkindly but matter of factly. I often feel like this isn't a good enough response. I want a reassuring voice on the outside to drown out the louder, doom-and-gloom voices on the inside.
I want to hear that everything is going to be okay.
No one can make that promise. Not about Christmas. Not about anything.
Okay starts on the inside. The more times that I examine my thoughts and realize they're not completely true, the more that I do even keel breathing, and the more I choose to not get worked up about my worries about the future or regrets about the past, the quieter the critical inner voices become.
I wish I could assure you (and me) that changing the tone of your inner voices is easy. It isn't. But just like learning any new skill, you (and I) will keep getting better with practice. You'll get stronger each and every time you stop the not enough chant mid-song and replace it with a kinder tune, maybe one that softly sings, I'm doing my personal best.
And your personal best, sweetie, is more than enough.