It’s hard to hear the wisdom of our inner compass when we’re moving at the speed of light. Yet we don’t need to bring the pace to a fast and complete halt to begin to feel better.
Last month, I had a migraine for a week straight. I was frustrated. It wasn’t a good time for this. I had a lot going on with a lot of balls in the air. And I just kept going, bulldozing past the pain.
This was me falling into default mode without even realizing it.
That migraine felt SO WRONG. I was pissed it was so relentlessly present. It was getting in my way and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t about to let it slow me down.
I bet you know what that feels like, too. Yeah, some days it’s migraines. Other days it’s anxiety. Or some other very human experience that feels so wrong.
I mean, the truth is it’s pretty darn easy to become swept up in the frenetic, fast pace of life, right? And before long your body climbs on board, whether it’s with a migraine, anxiety, insomnia or an endless array of other possible symptoms.
And the symptoms feel so bad! Suddenly your whole focus is on the symptoms and how to get rid of them because they’re getting in the way of keeping up with the pace of life.
Without warning, you easily glide right into default mode. You know, the mode that carries your focus outside you, looking for the answers out there somewhere. It makes wrong ANY reactions or symptoms that make it more difficult for you to keep up with life. This default mode disconnects you from yourself and your inner compass.
And you know what happens when we hang out in that default mode? It feels bad!
And the deeper in we get, the more pressure we feel. We become convinced that we need to CHANGE something on the outside, like our schedule or our responsibilities, etc. But guess what? When you’re already feeling pressure and overwhelm, trying to change something on the outside only adds to these feelings!
Around day 7 of my migraine yuck, I was driving to my daughter’s school. It was early in the morning and I could feel the migraine oozing its way back into my head for the day. And suddenly I found myself talking to my brain. Yup, I know. It sounds crazy. But I did.
I started talking to it kindly, which is what made me realize that I’d been in default mode, yelling at it for the whole previous week.
But on this day, I said, “Oh, you’re really feeling pressure, aren’t you? Yeah, I can feel it. There’s too much pressure, huh? I wonder what you need?”
Taking this momentary pause to chat with my brain created space for me to realize how much pressure I was feeling, too! Life pressure, ya know? When life starts moving so fast that it feels like a speeding train, but you can’t seem to find a way to get off.
So I told my brain that it made sense that it was feeling so much pressure because I was, too. I made it right for feeling pressure. I told it that I wasn’t sure how to stop the pressure, but that I knew I wanted to.
And I could feel my brain relax a little. It could feel that I was on its side again.
I was suddenly aware of my inner compass. I’d momentarily forgotten it was there! I told it I didn’t know how to turn down the pressure. And guess what my inner compass immediately said? “You’re already doing it, honey. Right now. This second. You’re turning inward and reconnecting with yourself. That IS how you turn the pressure down.”
How cool is that?!?! In two seconds flat, my inner compass made me feel proud. It made me feel accomplished for taking simple steps to turn down the pressure. And you know what else? After a full week of berating my migraine for being there and getting in my way, it began to recede.
Dipping back into default mode last month was a great reminder for me. It reminded me that it’s harder to hear the wisdom of our inner compass when we’re moving at the speed of light. Yet we don’t need to bring the pace to a fast and complete halt to begin to feel better.
In fact, creating a momentary pause to reconnect with yourself on the inside IS how you begin to turn down the pressure. This pause can entail a chat with the part of your body that’s yelling for your attention, just as I did with my brain and migraine. Or it can be a conversation with your anxiety or whatever other emotional visitor is showing up.
Do these conversations feel completely comfortable in the beginning? Often not! You know when you make a new friend and you aren’t yet sure of each other. And one day one of you takes a risk and is a little bit vulnerable with the other. And it’s kind of awkward, but it also feels good? That’s what it can feel like in the beginning. But with time and practice, the awkwardness fades as the comfort between you grows.
Does this mean that these conversations ALWAYS result in immediate relief from the symptoms? Nah. But at the very least, you WILL often feel something inside you relax, simply because you made time for a visit back home.
So what are you noticing? Are you in default mode, going at the speed of light? Is your anxiety, stress, or even a physical symptom like a migraine feeling like an immense hassle because of all the ways it’s preventing you from keeping up with the pace of life?
What if it turns out your body is calling you back home, even for a momentary pause? What if there’s wisdom tucked inside your symptoms? What if your body understands what you cannot see when you’re in your default mode: that creating a momentary pause to reconnect with yourself begins to change the very experience you’re having?
I invite you to give this a try and see what you find. You might just be surprised!
Or you may try it and feel like you’re doing it wrong. Some folks feel that in the beginning, too. Truth be told, there’s no perfectly right way to do any of this.
I myself didn’t learn how to do this on my own. I had support in those early days, which helped me fine-tune how to reconnect with myself in ways that felt authentic and helpful.
So let me know what you find! See how it feels to love-chat it up with your brain, your anxiety or any other part of you that’s calling your attention.
And if you try it and find yourself wanting support in discovering the easiest ways for you to update these conversations so you can have a different experience with your anxiety or stress, I’d love to help you. Shoot me a DM saying “Help!” or “I don’t know if I can do this!” or “I’m ready! Help me figure this out!” Or whatever else you want to say! I’d love to hear from you and connect. ❤️
P.S. If you’ve been enjoying my weekly blogs and are itching for more daily inspiration, friend me on Facebook (Emily Colwell) or follow me on Instagram (dr.emily_colwell). I post frequently and humor leaks into most of my posts!
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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