“The part of your brain that keeps replaying the incident isn’t a bad part. It thinks, in its not so helpful way, that it is protecting you from that happening again.”

Declare independence from emotional baggage

It’s nearly July and we will be celebrating our nation’s independence. Let’s create a reason to celebrate independence from worrisome thoughts. We won’t get rid of all the worry but we can chip away at it. We are going to start small and let that great feeling of letting go snowball.

How to start

Think of something that has been nagging at you. Something that seems to be on repeat in your brain like worrying you embarrassed yourself at the family picnic. Start with something small and relatively recent. 

For this example we will start with the family picnic. Do you keep replaying the incident wishing you hadn’t told Aunt Gladys that you thought her sunglasses looked like something to be found on a scarecrow? Does it turn out any differently each time you replay it? No? Well that’s weird. You would think that for all that time and energy you would have something to show for it. Well I guess you do, you have that sick feeling every time you replay the incident, and the dread you feel about the next time you see Aunt Gladys. 

The part of your brain that keeps replaying the incident isn’t a bad part. It thinks, in its not so helpful way, that it is protecting you from that happening again. But it doesn’t work that way. You don’t need protection from that past incident, it’s over and done. That part of your brain has hammered home that you don’t like how you handled it – you get it. So the point has been made, lesson learned and now time to let it go.

First step, let’s name the part of you that keeps replaying the incident. A few fan favorites are Nervous Nelly or Ned, Anxious Alice or Al, Shameful Shawn/Sean, Embarrassed Esmerelda or Emari, the list goes on and on. You choose what works for you. I’ll wait while you think of a name for that part of you.

Do you have a name? Excellent! Now picture this part of you, Nelly, Ned, Alice or Al. Really get a good visual of them in your head. Now imagine they are in the room with you and they look small and scared. Now gently give them a hug and thank them for their vigilance and their concern for avoiding future faux pas. Tell them you appreciate all their efforts to keep you safe. Keep hugging and reassuring them until you feel a shift inside you. It may be subtle but it will come.

Next take three long deep inhales in through the nose and even longer exhales out through the mouth. 

From here forward if that same scenario starts to play in your head ask that Nelly please save her energy, stop the replay and again thank her for her efforts. 

Then think of something that makes you smile, play your favorite song and dance or pet the cat anything to change the subject.

Congratulations you have started your independence from the Replaying-history part of you. Each time you shut down the production of uncomfortable past events you are getting more and more independent.  You can also use this tool to shut down worry over future events (aka imagined events) because it is the same character bringing that stuff up. Again give them a hug, thank them for trying to protect you and ask that they take a well-deserved break while you dance or sing or pet the cat.  

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