This is part 2 in an ongoing series on Self-Care Strategies for Fear.
Thank you to everyone who’s reached out to share your fears and how they’re affecting you. This is deep, scary work, and doing it with others can add a bit of comfort and grounding to the process. Keep reaching out!
Ok, are you ready for part 2? This piece is short, but sets the stage for the work we’re going to do over the next few weeks. Let’s dive in!
Cognitive Behavioral Self-Care Strategies for Fear
Imagine your insides as a garden. I know it’s weird, but humor me. We want to create a visual representation of your inner world, so that you can more easily attend to it.
Your garden lies within the fenced confines of a yard that is your very own. This outdoor space can look however you choose: it may have a beautifully manicured grape arbor, trellised veggies, rows of flowers, pea gravel and statues, or a wide expanse of lawn. This space is yours, and only you decide how it is maintained.
Soil + Seeds: Thoughts
Within your garden, your mind is the soil – the rich, fertile, nourishing medium that cultivates life.
Your thoughts are the seeds carried through on the wind – some tumbling away and out of your garden, some finding a hold in the ground of your mind. Some of these seeds you grab, sow in the ground on purpose, water, and tend to – these are your beliefs.
Buds, Blooms, and Thorns: Emotions
Your emotions spring forth based on how situations and circumstances interact with your thoughts and beliefs. Emotions are a byproduct of our circumstances filtered through our beliefs.
These emotions are like the buds, blooms, and thorns of those seeds you planted in the ground. The emotions themselves are worthy of holding space for and feeling, but they also serve a purpose. They are like flag posts signaling to us that there’s a thought operating below the surface.
When an emotion feels uncomfortable – like sadness, jealousy, fear, and anger often do – we can ask ourselves:
What thought is driving this feeling?
The Fruit: Behavior
The last feature of our garden that we’ll look at today is behavior.
Behavior – what you say and do or have the urge to do – is like the fruit of the plants in your garden. Our thoughts stimulate our emotions, which in turn drive us to act.
The more mindfully aware we are of the thoughts we’re planting and tending, and the emotions and sensations we’re experiencing, the better chance we have for our actions to be aligned with our values and intentions. On the other hand, if we’re not conscious of our thoughts and beliefs and haven’t chosen them intentionally, we may end up acting in ways that we regret.
Resources for supporting yourself as you get to know your garden
- Self-Care Quickie: Brain Integration | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreters
- This is not business as usual | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreting During a Pandemic
- Exploring your inner continent | Kristen Kalp
- Caring for Ourselves in Community | RID VIEWS Self-Care Column
- Step Into the Clearing | Morgan Harper Nichols
This week, spend some time with your journal and explore the features of your own garden.
Prompts to get you started:
Do you tend to be more aware of your thoughts, emotions + physical sensations, or actions? What helps you notice them?
Once you’ve identified your dominant feature, you can go forward or backward around the triangle to learn more about the others:
What thoughts do you have when you’re feeling (example emotions – substitute what’s relevant for you) sad, angry, frustrated, or jealous?
What emotions and physical sensations do you feel when you’re having these thoughts?
How do you act, what do you do, say, or want to do, when you’re thinking these thoughts or feeling these emotions?
In the moment that you’re feeling upset, this three-point check can be useful:
What am I thinking?
What am I feeling?
What am I doing?
An important note:
We are observing, noticing, and increasing awareness here. Remember, a key component of mindful awareness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement.
As you bring your awareness to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, notice any judgement of yourself that comes up. It’s helpful to make a note of this too!
Self-Care Strategies for Fear: Part 3
Next week we’ll talk about what to do in this lovely garden of yours, to enjoy it, get to know it, and work with it. You can read part 3 here.
Be so gentle with yourself this week, dear one, and remember that you have a whole community of precious people here to support you in taking better care of your precious self. Reach out to me privately here, or join in our community in the Burnout Proof Interpreters Collective. I look forward to connecting with you more deeply as we continue to explore self-care strategies for fear.
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