The other night, I pinched a nerve in my neck.
My first thought was—well, TECHNICALLY, my first thought involved a string of expletives.
But my SECOND thought was: Well! Good news, we found where I’m storing all my stress and tension! It’s right there IN MY SPINE. And now that I know where the pain is, I can start to take care of it. Also, OW.
That is my hope for all of us right now: that we would notice what hurts about this situation we’re all in.
My hope is that we would listen to ourselves and see what hurts. What does it feel like? Where is it coming from?
Does this feel like fear? Does this feel like anger? Does this feel like grief? Does this feel like distraction or anxiety or confusion?
Maybe our pain is coming from trying to take care of too many things with too few resources.
Maybe our pain is coming from anxiety about what might happen next.
Maybe our pain is coming from not being in control.
Maybe our pain is coming from a loss of comfort and security.
Maybe our pain is pointing us to the fact that we’re all connected.
Maybe our pain is here because we can’t numb it with everyday distractions anymore.
And once we see it, once we know where it’s coming from, we can start to ask questions. Asking questions is the beginning of healing.
We can ask: What does this feel like? What is this feeling telling me? What needs to change? What do I need to move toward? What do I need to move away from? What’s the next right thing for me to do, right now?
I’m seeing so many—SO MANY—suggestions about what we “should” do right now.
The suggestions sound like: Start new habits! Go for walks! Take a class! Bake something! IMPROVE OURSELVES!!!
There is nothing wrong with those things. I like good habits. I love taking classes. I even like baking.
But the truth is, you don’t need to be improved, you just need to give yourself permission to be who you really are.
And I don’t want us to use all that “improvement” to distract from the work of paying attention.
That’s my hope for all of us right now.
My hope is that, when there is fear or grief or sorrow or anger or uncertainty, we would not run from it, but would let it show us where to pay attention.
And if I follow someone else’s Ten Point Plan For What To Do Right Now, I will end up doing things that might be good things, but aren’t MY best things.
Following someone else’s plan actually gets me FARTHER AWAY from knowing what I need.
We say it all the time—we’ll just do our next right thing, one thing at a time—but how do you know what that thing IS?? What do you do if you’re not sure?
Check in with your whole self: body, mind, and spirit.
You are a whole self, with a body, with a mind, with a soul.
When you check in with each part of yourself, what do you hear? What do you find? What do you need next?
Check in with your body.
How does your body feel? Are you warm or cold? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Or are you awake and full of energy?
Is any part of you uncomfortable?
Are you tense anywhere?
Are you breathing deeply? If you do take a breath, do you relax?
Do you need sunshine on your face? Do you need to get your heart pumping? Do you need to look someone in the eye or give someone a hug?
What does your body need in this moment?
Check in with your mind.
What’s going on in your mind? Are your thoughts racing, or calm? Is your brain noisy or quiet?
Does your mind need to be quieted? Do you need to come back to the present?
Or does your mind need to be woken up?
If you have racing thoughts—what are they? Do you need to write them out? Would it help to journal, or to make a brain dump list?
Is there something you need to address so your mind can stop turning it over and over?
What does your mind need right now?
Check in with your spirit.
Checking in with your spirit can take whatever form makes sense to you.
Does your spirit need lifting, or grounding?
Do you need to spend time in prayer or meditation?
Would music lift your spirit? Would nature sounds help?
Do you feel an awareness of something greater than yourself?
Do you need to get out in nature, to remind yourself of your place in this universe?
Do you need to sit under the stars, or to lie on your back and look up at the clouds?
Do you need to feel the earth under your feet, to ground you?
Is there a reading—poetry, scripture, philosophy, lyrics, literature—that would speak to your spirit right now?
What does your spirit need next?
Find Your Next Right Thing
When you’re not sure, try checking in with your whole self. Your body, your mind, and your spirit all have something to tell you, when you’re ready to listen.
Start there and see if you can hear what you need next right now. xo.