2019 is here and we have the greatest opportunity to create a full, restful and rewarding year. Whether circumstances bring pain, whether we find ourselves in challenges, we all have this beautiful choice in how we will respond. This 3-part blog series contains neuro-science truths and tools to live in rest, walk in pain and build relationships and experiences of pleasure. Today we will discuss rest, which at its core is safety before moving on to pain and pleasure.
Our biggest threat to safety is other people. It is humans that can do the most damage to you, whether by their words or actions our brains are influenced by one another. We are social beings. Someone laughing creates a response in our brains and depending on our memories, we can react to this current laugh from our previous experiences. It is painful to be the object of someone’s laughter and so we join him or her in laughing at ourselves or we judge. Every time we make a judgement, it removes either them or us from the situation.
Finding a place of rest is finding safety and we cannot be truly safe by ourselves. Nothing we do to self-protect will bring us into relationships that bring life or safety. My challenge to you this year is look at the walls you have built to self-protect and slowly take these down. Allow yourself to be seen. The truth is self-protection is not true safety. It means we are giving more time to building walls, fixing holes in our walls and keeping people on the other side. The only pleasure we experience in this place is from addictive behaviour, control and a relief of distress (we survived).
Cortisol is the stress hormone that will be present in our bodies when we are trying to protect and hide. It keeps us living on guard, waiting for the big disaster and it has our whole bodies ready to respond to this. It stores fat for energy, changes our breathing and sleeping, speeds up our heart rate, and changes our digestion. We live like a possum in the headlights of a car, poised for disaster. Disasters are avoided and cortisol remains high when we live in control (everything happening exactly as you need) and engage in addictive behaviours (food, drugs, alcohol etc).
Feeling safe has two foundational beliefs: I am worthy and I am enough. When we adopt these for ourselves, we can walk through any challenge or pain from rest. You know by the story that plays in your head how much you are aligned by this. What is the story when you are sick and have a massive to-do list? What is the story when your finances are tight? Or a relationship ends? If it is disaster then it is likely something is wrong in what you are believing.
As threat is outworked in our body, so is rest. Under threat our muscles tense, breathing is shallow and heart and thoughts race. Establishing rest happens when we work on deep breathing, feeding our body nutritious food, drinking water, stretching, walking or running and practicing mindfulness.
Rest in relationship is connection, where we are seen and known. The space where we can truly share our hearts with one another. In the cortex, we experience rest when we create and collaborate (free from pressure and expectation).
This year let’s become people who prioritise a life in rest, take down our walls with one another (and sometimes ourselves), establish restful rhythms in our day, connect with one another and begin creating.