That Urgent Feeling Means ‘Slow Down’ …Not ‘Hurry The F**k Up’

That Urgent Feeling Means ‘Slow Down’ …Not ‘Hurry The F**k Up’

Have you noticed that when we feel anxious, overwhelmed, confused, worried, doubtful and all those feelings that come as part of the package of being alive, that there’s an urgency to our thinking? ⠀

Our minds feel full of speedy, swirly, spiky thoughts and it’s hard to see clearly. Our circumstances look difficult, solid, permanent and very real. 

We’re desperate to figure out whatever it is we think we need to figure out to feel ok again. ⠀

⁣⁠We just want the thing we *think* is causing our upset to be gone, solved, done. ⁣⁠

What do I do next?⠀

What are they thinking?⠀

What if…?

What’s going to happen?⠀

What about this?⠀

What about that?⠀

But then…?

When we’re in this state, we can feel the speed of our thoughts accelerating and just like a car going too fast, it’s easy to lose control and crash. 

The crash can look like an irrational decision, damaging a relationship, a hasty choice, a retreat into a bottle of rum, deciding to cut out a whole food group or two forever, or crawling into bed at 1.15 pm and turning your phone off. ⠀

We have all made choices from this state that we come to regret when we feel calmer. ⁣⁠

A WEIRD PARADOX

It’s one of those weird paradoxes of the human condition. When it looks like we need to take action RIGHT NOW is also the time when we are least equipped to do so. ⁣⁠

When animals in nature are lost, they stop and take stock. They pause to find their bearings. Figuratively speaking, of course, although I did google “mountain goat finding its bearings” – any excuse to search for mountain goats. ⠀

I bet you know what I mean. Animals most certainly do not speed up when they have lost their way, which is what us humans do with our thinking. ⠀

In this frenetic state, it is much harder to see our next step clearly. We believe the urgency of our thinking means we HAVE to go quickly…think think think think do do do do solve solve solve solve ⠀

It’s the opposite. The faster we’re thinking, the more important it is to slow down. This goes against what we think we should do – which is why it is so darn hard at first – but it’s infinitely more helpful.⠀⠀

THE FEELING IS OUR CLUE

Feelings are always and only giving feedback on the quality of our thinking. A shit feeling – urgency, panic, overwhelm – is telling us our thinking can’t be trusted right now. Our thinking is unreliable. We aren’t seeing clearly. ⁣⁠

This is the best thing! We don’t need to ‘get our shit together’ or ‘figure out what to do’ or ‘examine what the feeling means’ or any of that. ⁣⁠

⁣⁠That ‘speedy’, urgent, panicky, overwhelmed feeling is saying:⁣⁠

⁣⁠“Hey, human. Stop. Hang out until you settle down. You will. Then you’ll know what to do, if there’s something to be done.”⁣⁠

⁣⁠This is pretty awesome. ⁣⁠But also hard to do at first, because it goes against what we have learnt. 

LEARNING TO TRUST THIS

When I was coming across the way feelings really work – that they are providing feedback about my thinking, not about my life – I found it hard to trust that it was that simple. ⁣⁠

⁣⁠“No, but this is issue is REALLY serious and I need to do something about it RIGHT NOW”⁣⁠

I bet you can relate to that. 

⁣⁠I came to see that the worse I felt and the more urgent the thing looked, the more I needed to stop and wait. ⁣⁠

⁣⁠“But what about a real emergency,” people say. “I can’t wait for my mind to settle if the house is on fire!”⁣⁠

Well guess what? If it’s a true emergency like saving kittens from a burning kitchen, we aren’t even thinking about it: we’re just doing it. ⁣⁠

When a ‘real thing’ happens that needs to be dealt with, we’re covered. Instinctive know-how just propels us into action effortlessly without us even thinking about it. 

⁣⁠You can trust this. ⁣⁠

⁣⁠The urgency means slow down. I invite you to try this. 

The next time you are feeling urgent thought, and finding a solution HAS TO HAPPEN RIGHT AWAY OR ELSE THERE WILL BE CERTAIN DOOM, take a break. ⠀

YOUR MIND IS DESIGNED TO SETTLE ON IT’S OWN

Have a shower, check the mailbox (the one outside, not on your Gmail app), make a cup of tea, tweeze your eyebrows, arrange the content of your spice rack in order of expiry date, play a random song on Spotify, search ‘2 years ago’ in your photo app to see what you were up to –  anything you want.

Let your mind settle. Which it will IF YOU LET IT. Please, let it. 

When the speed of your thoughts slows, you can navigate with ease.

Once you see for yourself that this can be trusted, it makes life a lot fucking nicer, I promise. ⁣⁠

Need help? Confused? Don’t get what I’m on about? Upset about the kittens-in-the-burning-kitchen thing? ⁣⁠Let me know here