How do you remain calm when you’re drowning? How do you overcome the counterproductive thoughts of your possible death? The fact is, when you’re drowning in actual water, you can either build up the strength to save yourself or hope that someone will help.
On the flip side, when you’re drowning in your own insidious thoughts, you’re not actually going to die. So you don’t have to worry about saving yourself from imminent death. But, you do have to resurface at some point. Because if you stay under long enough, the strength to rise up again becomes harder.
Of course, unlike drowning in real water, resurfacing from stress is not as simple as swimming up for air. Your mind is always going to be conjuring up negativity. But you can overcome that by simply staying above the surface.
And here’s how to do it
First, you have to accept that you are, in fact, drowning in your negative thoughts. It sounds stupid, but I’ve gone through stressful periods before where it took me a bit of a mental mind slap to bring me back. I didn’t actually know that I was drowning. I just worried myself into a state of terror, where my thoughts consumed my entire being and I was grasping for help. For anyone to show me the way.
But when it comes to your own mind, the only person who can help you is you. And this includes acknowledging the fact that your thoughts are getting the better of you.
The truth is, your mind won’t always tell you the truth. It’s only telling you what you’re subconsciously thinking. And if the same thought continues to permeate, it will eventually be accepted as truth. Just like a lie.
So you have to remind yourself that you don’t actually know everything. And that’s more than just okay; it’s practically human nature.
Swimming back to the surface
Once you’ve accepted your state of drowning, you have to swim back to the surface. And that means letting go of all the things weighing you down.
You are drowning, not because you can’t swim, but because you’re holding onto too much weight. And that weight comes in the form of negativity. Too much of it, and you will go under.
Of course, when I say letting go, it’s not as simple as casting it off. Negativity lingers. It will always linger. And that’s based on human nature. We don’t harness negativity to hate ourselves, but to protect ourselves. If we’re negative, all external forces that remind us of that negativity won’t hurt us. At least, that’s what we think.
The idea is not to let go literally, but to simply release the grip you have on it. Your negativity is a product of your past, and you hold onto it still as if it is a cherished thing. But if you’re ever going to resurface, you need to release the grip you’ve put on it. Don’t water it, don’t give it the time of day, don’t hug it tightly like a teddy bear. Just let it be. Place it out by the letterbox and eventually, it will go walkabout. Where it only exists in your memory.
It’s just a thought, and that’s all it is.
Don’t focus on resurfacing, focus on living
Once you’ve let the bad thoughts go, it’s time to live. Life is there for the taking. And I’m not talking about making a career or striving for something exceptional, but just being. Find what absolutely makes you happy and simply allow it to loosen you up.
Perhaps it’s dinner with a friend or going out for a luscious walk. Maybe you need an hour or two of gaming or a day of binging on Netflix. Or is it simply sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine and an immersive book? Whatever piques your fancy, lap it up and let it bloom.
For they create the feeling of flying. And when you’re underwater, flying is exactly what you need.
Find the shallow end again
Of course, resurfacing is not the final step. You’ve made it to the breaking point where reality and unreality are separated. But you can’t keep kicking those legs and hoping for the best. You’ve got to find the shallow end so you can properly get back to life.
All this, of course, will take time. You cannot expect to find the shallow end in a matter of seconds like you would in a pool. You’ve gotta allow some time for it to build. It’s your mental refurbishment.
To find the shallow end, you’ve simply gotta stay afloat long enough to get back into the groove of life. To allow yourself to wade towards an area where you can stand upright. Where you don’t have to strain to stay up.
Because as long as you’re lightening your load and letting go of the negativity, you will stay afloat long enough to feel whatever sense of normal you seek.
Feature Image: Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash
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