It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! April’s theme is dealing with negativity. When you decide to go in a new direction you can encounter a lot of it, from yourself and others. In the past few weeks I spoke about that pesky voice inside my head and how I’m learning to understand it. I also discovered who I think I am, anyway. Today I’m discussing rituals that help me deal with negativity.
Talking and reasoning through fear can be really valuable. Sometimes. Once in a while, by using logic I even have a big epiphany that changes the way I view the world. And who doesn’t love an epiphany? But rare epiphanies aside, logic isn’t always effective because fear is not always logical. My fears most often stem from irrational thinking on my part, or that primitive part of my brain that is dead convinced I am going to starve or be eaten by a large predator. It’s awfully hard to reason my way through that.
When I am worried or afraid, I find that rituals can be comforting. They can bring me out of my head and re-ground me in reality. My rituals aren’t always elaborate. They can be as simple as making myself a cup of tea and drinking it, or taking a few deep breaths. Meditation, prayer, walking, kneading bread, knitting or exercising can also be calming rituals. Most of us have at least a few of these that we engage in without even thinking about it.
Once in a while my simple rituals don’t cut the mustard. When I’m really worried about a lot of things, I like to expand my repertoire a little. I was feeling that way at the beginning of April. And so, when we were in Birch Bay I crafted an impromptu ritual in which I cast my worries out to sea.
I walked on the beach and picked up a couple of stones, holding one in each hand. I held out my right hand and said, “This stone is …” and named one of my worries. Then I held up my left hand and said, “This stone is …” and named another worry. I squeezed those stones good and tight, filling them with all my fears. And then I threw them into the ocean. And I repeated the process, again and again, until I couldn’t think of any more worries.
When I was done, I felt much lighter. I didn’t feel worried anymore, at least for a little while. It didn’t change my life forever, but it did help me to regain perspective for the moment, and that’s all it had to do. My ritual got me out of my head just long enough to examine my situation with a better frame of mind. I’ve heard of many other, similar, rituals that other people use. Like writing all your fears on little slips of paper and burning them. Or burying objects that remind you of a bad time in your life.
I think that the physicality of rituals can be very valuable. Fear is a very physical thing. Even if I’m not afraid for my physical self, I have lots of physical symptoms. For me worry is sweaty palms, wobbly legs, a cracking voice, a racing heart. And so literally throwing my fears away carries a certain power. It’s like I’m meeting that part of my mind on its own terrain, and sending it a message it can understand. I’ve slayed the beast, and I don’t need to be afraid that it will eat me anymore.
Now I’d like to hear from you about rituals you use. Do you have big or small actions that you take when your fears overwhelm you? How do they work for you? I’d love to know!
April’s Crafting my Life series is about dealing with negativity. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be the 29th, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on this month’s theme anytime in April, or track down a post you’ve written on the subject sometime in the past, and add yourself to the list. Then read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out the link-ups from January, February and March to get a feel for how it works.