‘After a week the backing away stopped working!’
Yeah, I get that.
I get that now.
This disappointed or somewhat panicked comment came to me a couple of times this week, from both clients and readers, and I’ve realized that I overlooked something critical.
While writing and talking about backing away from your thoughts and (the beginning of) your shitty feelings, I simply didn’t see how straightforward that is for me.
I’ve been doing it since 2012, when I stopped drinking and backed away from endless mental invitations to take some alcohol, hundreds of times a day.
For me it’s a casual thing, a 1-second thing, while that may not be the same for you.
The thing is: backing away is not a magic wand against overwhelm.
It’s not like anxiously crossing your fingers before you, hoping to fend off the devil.
Because it’s not supposed to be a big deal, at all.
Backing away is not a spell to throw at the situation before you run and hide.
It’s more like not being interested.
Imagine someone beaming a video of flames on your house, with a laser projector: would you start frantically packing your stuff?
Would you call 911, or run away screaming in terror?
Of course not.
The flames might look real and the whole thing could be pretty realistic and impressive, but there’s nothing happening, really.
That’s what I mean when I talk about backing away.
Just a simple activity that feels like ‘Yeah, whatever’, and that’s it.
Disengaging in the moment, way before you get lost.
But it doesn’t ‘work’ when you’re overwhelmed.
When that happens, it already seems like you’re too far gone.
You’re already so much and so deeply in it, that the virtual distance that is required to simply back away, is not there.
You’re beyond backing away (not really, but it definitely seems that way).
Yet this is still not the end of the world.
Because, one, it just isn’t.
It’s an experience.
And two: you can actually work with it if you’re inclined to do so, and especially if you’re really fed up with all that cyclical bullshit that never really climaxes, but keeps you on your toes all the time.
It might even create a breakthrough.
You see, what I advised the people who told me about their (pending) overwhelm and the fact that backing away no longer did the trick, is not to back away from it, but to do the exact opposite.
Dive straight into it.
I’m not talking ‘the fear just wants to be held’ stuff, I’m talking dismantling and obliterating that motherfucker by exposing it.
Because there IS no monster.
The Beast is in your mind, not in the world.
The Beast IS actually your mind, whirling and spinning like a maniac in anticipation of what will eventually might step out of the dark.
The thing that makes you so worried, the thing that causes the overwhelm, is not a thing in the first place.
The worrying makes you worried.
The constant ‘keeping an eye out for disaster’ creates the shitty feelings.
It’s the mental activity around a terrifying future event that produces the torture.
You’re simply thinking in circles.
And since you can’t think yourself out of your thinking, you might as well just go for it, sit down, and invite the horror.
And you know what?
Nothing bad will happen.
What you’ve been so afraid of, has always been nothing.
NOTHING was waiting, and nothing can devour you.
At that moment, there’s a really good chance you will be graced with an insight into what’s been going on all the time, and that can change this misunderstanding forever.
Just before doing this, it can look like you have to jump straight into a lava-shit river that will keep burning you forever, but I can almost guarantee it will be one of the most refreshing dives ever.
You’ve been running away from nothing most of your life.
So face it.
Get it over with.
Stop running, stop hiding, simply sit down and say ‘Come and get me, asshole! Give it your best shot!’
NOTHING will happen, because nothing was waiting for you.
This often works wonders and it can be a tremendous relief.
The end result is actually the same as with backing away:
What never comes and goes, what’s always safe and sound, will show itself.
And you’ll have found who you really are.
(Photo by @michael_mouritz, for Unsplash)