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Externalizing What Is Too Heavy for the Body, Mind or Heart

I am mostly news stream avoidant lately. Still my anxiety is not quelled by the avoidance. 

Like most of us, I am frequently overrun with fears large and small, and sometimes filled with what my daughter will sometimes text me of her sense of “overwhelming doom”. 2020 will go down as the year of “What could go wrong?” – or more wrong – and the list seems ever lengthening.

It is hard to know what to do with all of our emotions and the slippery ways that they undermine our ability to trust our own instincts and decision-making, and the ways that our fears take up residence in the body – whether it be a lacking appetite or insatiable need for comfort foods, a strained neck, or an incessant head or jaw ache.

Our anxiety and discomforts are real, and figuring out how to recognize and externalize them is the best advice I have gotten all year. In a recent interview with therapist Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, she shared the idea of putting everything that is too heavy for the body, mind or heart to carry into a rock.

Here's how to try this exercise:

  • First, go find a nice big rock – for me it might be a small boulder.
  • Next, get a couple of Sharpie pens – multiple colors are good.
  • Then write all of your fears, anxieties, and descriptors of dread and any other negative emotions stored in your body on the rock.
  • Put the rock in a corner of your home or yard and agree with yourself that you can let them live there.

When negative emotions come up again, acknowledge where they are. And then check and see if you have room for other emotions again, if maybe your ability to trust your instincts and what you know to be true has a little more space to breathe.