Tips from a chronic pain recovery therapist
Have you ever experienced something like this?
You get a great idea! You realize that you’ve got an amazing book inside your brain just bursting to come out… Or you have an innovative new business that you can’t wait to launch… Or maybe you decide to throw a party or try rollerblading again to recapture the joy of your youth.
You’re excited, inspired and filled with energy…
And just as you get ready to launch into action — BAM! A flare of symptoms knocks the wind right out of you mid-launch.
What the heck?! Why does this happen?
The pathways to passion and pain flares are both fueled by a surge of emotional energy. And how our nervous system relates to that energy can influence the direction things go in.
I’m going to share an analogy with you. Read it, see how it sits with you, and decide if this picture might point you toward the pathway of passion and thriving.
Asurge of emotional energy working its way through our mind-body system is like a fleet of cars starting off slowly and then revving up as they head onto the Energy On-Ramp, which eventually splits off into Thriving Throughway or Bottleneck Beltway.
Thriving Throughway is the road to pursuing passion. This is the road that energy goes down when our nervous system believes that it can handle the energy safely. Thriving Throughway is a wide road with many lanes and enough space for every shade of emotion — race cars, station wagons, sedans — a whole spectrum of energy. As the Throughway stretches on, the scenery changes, weather changes, traffic may slow down and speed up again, roadblocks may pop up now and then, but the Throughway itself stays wide enough for the energetic fleet of cars to navigate around these obstacles and ultimately keep going.
Bottleneck Beltway, on the other hand, is a road that gets progressively narrower and narrower. This is the road that energy goes down when our nervous system perceives energy as a threat. In an attempt to stop the energy, Bottleneck Beltway closes down one lane after another, cutting off one emotion after another, until the entire energetic fleet of cars are jammed together, unable to keep moving along this too-narrow pathway.
Sign-posts alerting you that your energy has taken a turn down Bottleneck Beltway might include:
- Symptoms like pain flares, fatigue, dizziness and myriad other mind-body symptoms
- Feeling like you’re “going in circles”
- Burnout (lack of energy, inspiration, curiosity, motivation or enjoyment)
WHAT TO DO when your energy takes a turn down Bottleneck Beltway…
This is the part that may feel counter-intuitive when you’re in the thick of a traffic jam. You might feel that you urgently need to keep going, fight through the traffic and push forward toward your destination.
But when you zoom out on your GPS to see the entire route, you’ll discover that, not only is Bottleneck Beltway plagued with traffic, it also leads in a circle — a road to nowhere.
Instead of pushing forward, the path to progress requires us not to speed up but to slow down, turn off at the next exit and head for the nearest Rest Station.
Only by first stopping to truly rest and replenish can we gain the perspective and calm that we need in order to re-set our GPS, head back toward the Energy On-Ramp and aim for Thriving Throughway.
No matter how many times we need to stop, rest and re-set, doing so will always be the faster route to progress than continuing to honk our horn at traffic on Bottleneck Beltway.
And every time we stop at a rest station, we get to fuel up and gain strength, wisdom and more resilience for our journey… which sets us up to share our beautiful ideas, projects, loves and passions with the rest of the world!
What’s your favorite way to fuel up at a rest station? Some of mine include:
- Repeating the mantra “Let yourself off the hook. Your job right now is to rest.”
- Taking a walk and looking at things I find beautiful (like flowers.)
- Sitting in a coffee shop with good vibes and reading or writing.
- Taking a trip to the beach with a friend.
- Cuddling with my fur babies.
- Telling my partner that I need to rest and letting him reassure me that it’s okay to take a break.
What works for you when it’s time to rest and refuel?
Sending love, admiration and encouragement to rest and refuel,
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