I was walking my dog this morning, and I felt a headache coming on. It’s spring pollen season here, so allergies have been kicking up. But something else came to mind too.
I’ve been more and more convinced by the mind-body literature out there that suggests we consider the emotional factors that could be contributing to our body having trouble in some way. So I gave it a try…
As I walked along the sidewalk, I put my attention on my throbbing head and thought “what’s bothering me?” And as so often happens, no feeling came to mind at all. But thoughts about the NPR story I’d just heard on the potential impacts of the Covid-19 situation did.
Still I didn’t feel any feelings about it per se. I noticed my self-talk voice commenting that I was kind of impressed that I am not freaking out more, since I’ll admit to a mild cleanliness obsession that far predates this.
So I slowed down, and used a micro-mindful technique I teach to clients:  
I kept my attention on my headache, and “tried on” the feeling of fear.
These days I think this “trying on a feeling” strategy is more and more necessary as there is so much more competition for our attention from the outside world.
When I tried on the feeling of fear, low and behold, something inside of me softened. The thought “I am afraid … but we’ll figure this out” came up next.
And that felt better. My compassionate AND strong voice engaged and let me acknowledge that yes, I am scared about all of this stuff, as we all are. I am scared.
… and THEN authentic thoughts could come up as to why I ALSO FEEL secure that we will figure this out: 

  • Life is not supposed to be endlessly comfortable (Remembering that problems are a normal part of human history, end runs the potentially additional panic about a problem happening when it’s not “supposed to”) and…
  • We are here on this planet, in this lifetime, to contribute. (And times such as these offer tremendous opportunities to contribute solutions, care and bravery)

So give yourself permission to acknowledge your fear when you have it, AND THEN look for your courageous thoughts. Denial of our fear only closes the door to authentic feelings of bravery.

Jessica Kiesler
Jessica Kiesler

Over the last 20 years, Jessica has helped hundreds of busy adults create more balance within and with others. She received her master’s degree in applied psychology from New York University, and completed mediation training at the Columbia University School of Law. She has held numerous clinical roles, managed clinical operations for a national EAP, and advised executives on employee-relations concerns at Fortune 1000 companies.