Do you ever find yourself feeling and acting overly-cautious about many things? “What am I going to do if the furnace goes out?” “What if I’m late for a deadline?” “What if a hailstorm destroys all my plants?” “What will happen if that car keeps following me too closely?” And then all these thoughts along with many more, generate lists of things to do and tasks to be completed as quickly as possible. Then you get stuck in an endless cycle of worry and doing, never giving yourself a break including the middle of the night panic.
Welcome to my world. Many of you are shaking your head while you are glancing at your to-do list. A whole bunch of you are like “WTF, get over it already”. And a whole lot of in-betweeners are just reading this to see what I’m writing about.
No, this really isn’t the way I like living my life. I’d like to be all Zen and not worry; just handle things if and when they occur. Being hyper-vigilant is not fun and it is exhausting. It is a difficult behavior pattern to break, and yes, it is a behavior pattern.
I recently read an article by Bethany Webster about being hyper-vigilant, over-achieving and anticipating problems. It all comes back to a lack of feeling safe. Bethany teaches about the Mother Wound; how it affects us and ways to heal it. Her website is http://www.motherwound.com. The Mother Wound is real, deeply rooted and particularly worse for women. Even if you had a wonderful mother, there are generational and gender wounds that are passed on. If you had a mother who was emotionally unavailable to you, then you were likely imprinted with the belief of never feeling safe.
Beneath the fear of never feeling safe, lies the core wound of trust. You learn quickly to be self-sufficient, never relying on anyone for support. If you couldn’t trust your mother, why could you trust anyone else? Your child brain can only envision danger ahead so you become highly sensitive and sensitized to your environment, reading others’ emotions with more skill than an NFL quarterback scanning the defense. You create your own “No Fly Zone” by carefully managing your surroundings so you can feel safe, secure and at peace. And raise holy h*ll if anyone moves anything out of place. Because you lack trust, you become an over-achiever and over-responsible because you expect others to fail you. You can do anything and everything and can make the Energizer Bunny give up. But do you ever take time to rest and relax?
Only when everything is done to your satisfaction, at least for the moment, or you are safe in your little nest. But even then “what if the electricity goes out?”
It takes a lot of work to change this behavior pattern. First, you have to face and feel the emotions that create the pattern and most people don’t want to go through this. Trust me, it is worth the pain. You need to feel this in order to accept that your mother wasn’t capable of being a mother. Seek professional help, even if you don’t trust them. That’s the point, right? Secondly, you must learn how to mother yourself. Rest when you are tired. Eat when you are hungry. And for God’s sakes, go pee when you have to go!
Force yourself to stay focused in the moment. Whatever is in the future will happen or not. If you focus on disaster, you might actually create it into being so why not focus on doing something happy and fun. Practice trusting others. Give them a small task to do and stay out of their way. If you are nutty about something, show them what you would like. Say “please, would you do this for me?” Only a total sh*thead would ignore you, and then maybe you need to clear them out of your environment. Talk about anticipating problems.
These days, with technology delivering things at lightning speed, the pressure is on to do everything all at once. Our inner wounds are easily triggered in this intense environment. When you are feeling especially anxious, stop and breathe. Give yourself a moment to assess whether something has to be done, if your anticipated worry will manifest or if you really are just tired and need to go sit in your safe zone.
Like I’m doing. Even if it’s writing this post.
3 thoughts on “The Safe Zone”
I did this for years. What if, what if this happened, what if that happened. I finally learned to play that game to the end with the very worst thing that could happen at the end. Only then did I realize that when things happen you have to deal with them. Not before and not until. Shit happens everyday. I still worry about something happening to the house. Yikes. haven’t I learned anything. A house is a house, as long as my fur babies or loved ones are not in it. I am there with you. I understand.
This is a damn hard habit to break! I like your “play that game to the end”, because shit does happen and when you think about the worst. . . well, then it all seems kind of ridiculous. I heard a saying long ago, “worry is like a rocking chair, it doesn’t get you anywhere, but it gives you something to do”. I might need a porch rocker. Thank you for your kind words & understanding. 🙂
Thanks Lorrie! I am slowly working on change!