FEATURED IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A yellow road sign as the focal point saying ‘difficult decisions ahead. with cloudy skies in the background.
BY: ELIZABETH MacGREGOR
When I have to decide something that is difficult, something that stirs my anxiety into a tornado of emotion, I try to stop and ask myself, ‘how am I right now?’ I search for that place inside me that calm retreats to when I am worried or upset. It is sometimes so hard to locate, hiding under layers of catastrophic thinking and waves of great fear about a future event. But, seriously, how am I right now? At this very moment, all is fine, right?
After my brain injury, I became inundated with tumultuous feelings and poor insight as to why I felt this way. My energy would be twisted this way and that as I struggled with negativity and worry. I could not conceive of how to get hold of the reins of this runaway horse, and mostly felt trampled by its hooves of sadness and anger.
Yoga and meditation helped, mindfulness helped, exercise was crucial, but something else helped. The arms of a loved one, stretched around me, no matter how hateful my words, or negative my thoughts led me to find myself once more.
The neural pathways that descended into this place of confusion and angst became inactive, bit by bit. The pathways of patience with myself, discipline to look for the positive, and kindness towards myself and others, redeveloped and strengthened. I recognized me once more.
Dealing with the COVID Pandemic brought us a constant level of anxiety, fear of others, and unpredictable social interactions. It is difficult to decide who to trust, hug, or hang out with. Catastrophic thinking, the common companion of those of us with brain injury, is never far away these days.
We, however, are still the same lovely beings inside, and so are our friends and loved ones. Comfort can still be spread by kind words and good intentions. A call to a friend, an unexpected altruistic effort, can change our thinking, make us braver and feed our happiness. Funny how doing something kind for someone else makes us feel so much better.
So, how am I right now?
Elizabeth MacGregor is a retired teacher/guidance counsellor who enjoys being on a lifelong learning journey.