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Do This to Stop Anxiety, Rumination, and Indecision

Personal Perspective: Don’t push the river. Practice softening and find the yes.

Key points

  • Indecision can cause intense anxiety.
  • When caught in a negative feedback loop, try finding the flow of the river and following it.
  • A technique can be used to get out of your head and into your body and intuition.
Source: Jack Anstey/Unsplash
Source: Jack Anstey/Unsplash

There are times I swear my head is going to explode. Like literally. Kaboom. Like when there seem to be infinite choices and I can’t decide. Or when I try to push the river; trying to force things to happen or happen faster but all I do is run into roadblocks.

When caught in this swirling cerebral drain I’ve learned to find the flow of the river and follow it, instead of flailing against it. I practice resistlessness and hone in on my inner wisdom.

For instance, maybe I’ve been trying to fix a document for way too long. And IT. JUST. WON’T. WORK! Or I find myself frozen in indecision about a choice. It could be as basic as whether to go out for dinner or more complex, like whether to take on a new project.

Get Curious

Instead of going in circles or charging the proverbial brick wall, I stop. Take a beat and I get curious.

I pause. Then ask myself the question that I’m wrestling with. I gently search for a tiny place in my body for softness; a little openness that’s accompanied by a spark of gentleness or comfort.

Say, for example, I’m ruminating about whether to take a course. This is my quintessential negative feedback loop: rumination, indecision, confusion, anxiety, and depression. Then it starts all over and on and on it goes. Insert exploding head here.

The following is a strategy I use to get out of my head and into my body and intuition. When I get back into my body and in touch with my intuition, it acts like a compass guiding me to true North. When I’m moving towards that metaphorical true North, my body tells me so and I know I’m in alignment with the flow of the river. This is my process.

Find the Flow of the River

  1. I pause. Maybe close my eyes.
  2. I ask myself the question that I’m wrestling with.
  3. I imagine that I’ve decided "yes." I may physically lean my body or shift my weight to the left or right as I imagine a "yes."
  4. Then I gently scan my body and notice what happens in my body.
  5. Where in my body can I sense a bit of expansion, some lightness, a morsel of joy body or a glimmer of relief? Maybe it feels like a metaphorical click. It might feel like a little openness in the center of my chest or an uplifting feeling at my belly button. There are all sorts of ways our bodies can communicate with us.
  6. Or as I imagine "yes," do I notice a constriction or heaviness instead? A lethargy perhaps?
  7. I hover there a moment with my attention. After a bit, I open my eyes.
  8. Then imagine I’ve said "no." And I repeat steps 4 through 7.
  9. I choose to follow the answer where my body feels more expanded, more calm or carefree, where I feel more flow.

You could say this is connecting with intuition or gut instinct. But what I’m talking about is less vague and far more concrete. There is a life force that supports our evolution even if we can’t see how the choice makes sense. But the choice in our body feels right.

This orientation gives me and my squirmy mind a peacefulness that helps me drop defensiveness and start to flow with the river into a state of resistlessness. This state allows the natural healing and life energy to flow more and grow.

I use this technique anytime I feel stuck, overwhelmed, anxious, or trying too hard. It’s never steered me in the wrong direction. If I doubt the answer, I may use my intellect as a backup to ensure it’s not reckless and harmful to myself.

The Wisdom of the Body

It’s one of the best ways I’ve learned to gently move away from indecision, anxiety, and depression and get in touch with my innate wisdom. Wisdom that for many years, I’ve been disassociated from. My anxiety or depression doesn’t disappear necessarily, though often it does. And it certainly lessens, even if only for a little while.

The soft, calm spots I discover are where the flow of the river lives. Places in my body I can trust. After so many years of being disconnected from my body, not trusting its signals, it’s a welcomed experience. This soothing current supports me and exists for my benefit. All I have to do is tap into it and gently follow it.

The process I summarized helps me reconnect to the unlimited kindness that lies within that river of energy. One that exists for all of us and one that all of us can learn to access. Its kindness slowly transforms into magical moments in my life and into self-compassion that soaks both my mind and body.

The next time you’re in a whirlpool of dread, do some "field research" and try the steps I've outlined. See if it helps. It takes practice to get the hang of it. But once you do, it can be an invaluable tool for well-being.

© Victoria Maxwell.

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