It’s just a little, little thing, a tick, but, oh, how it focuses the mind.
I found a tick on my forearm this past weekend, while I was down in West Virginia. (Or, West By God Virginia, as it’s more rightly called.)
The first thing I did, without even thinking, was to start breathing deeply. I felt my belly and my feet. I probably said, “Oh, S#it” a few times, too. Just some things to get over the initial stress reaction.
Because you see, I have chronic Lyme disease in my central nervous system, which they didn’t discover until after I’d had it for at least 2 years. So there are still a few spirochetes hiding here and there that we haven’t gotten rid of yet.
And now another tick.
But this isn’t about Lyme disease or even ticks, this is about how I, or you, react when something goes wrong, or a challenge pops up.
This is about becoming more Resilient.
Because whether it’s your computer crashing, a traffic jam, losing your job, getting dumped, bouncing a check, or getting sick, you and I have a choice of how we react, and we have ways to help ourselves respond with inner strength and outer grace.
Here’s what that might look like…
I’m a “swing into action” kind of gal, so I did what I needed to do about the tick, the doctor, and the antibiotics.
But how I reacted to it all is what’s important here.
I knew I needed to do three things:
1. Use my cognitive tools to talk myself down from stressing and self-blame.
I reasoned with myself that there are some things, like little tiny ticks, that are not in my control and that I wasn’t going to shut myself up in the house and not live my life. I stopped my stress talk in its tracks, saying, NO, it’s not my fault, and blame has no place now that it’s done. I’ll learn the lessons I can, but not through shame.
2. Affirm my ability to handle it and take care of myself.
I started saying out loud, “I’ve got this. I can handle this. I know what to do.” over and over. It really helped! I’m still saying it.
3. Tell someone and process externally.
I’m an introvert that really benefits from external processing. I knew I’d be ruminating over it and it would ruin my day (I was at a dance festival) if I didn’t just share it with someone and talk through what happened, how scary it is, and say my strategy for handling it out loud. So I told a friend at breakfast. And I said my affirmations out loud to them, too. They affirmed that I could handle it as well. And they checked in me with about it today, which was an added bonus.
What’s Going On Here?
Ticks happen. Stressing, panic, and catastrophizing are optional. Resilient people accept that not everything is in their control (actually not much is when you think about it) and that HOW you respond is the only control you’ve got. So if you need to learn tools to respond differently, then learn them. Read a book, talk to me.
The things my mind says always seem real, but they are NOT always true. I can decide what to think and what to tell myself. The more I tell myself “I’ve got this,” the more I believe it and then the more I actually AM that person.
Telling your story in an empowered way is an essential part of being resilient. Not “poor me” or “I’m a victim” or “It’s his fault” telling, although crying and feeling feelings, whatever they are is vital. Empowered storytelling is when you ALSO ask/say what you learned and how you’ll respond, and you take charge of your story.
I’m taking charge of the tick story. And my body and health. You can take charge of your story, too.
There’s more to being resilient than these three ideas, which I’ll talk about next time, but for now, think about how you speak to yourself, what you’re affirming, and what stories you tell about what’s going on. Bring some awareness to these three things in your life and see if you can take back some of your power and respond in new ways.
You’ve got this.
All My Best,
P.S. If you still think this post was about me getting a tick bite and you’re upset by that, 1. thank you for caring and 2. go back and read it again and try a different response. I don’t mind if you practice on me. Leave a comment and tell me what happened.