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"I'm really freaking out!"

When we are freaking out, feeling really triggered about something, it is hard to remember our tools. There is a tendency to tell ourselves that the worst possible scenario is about to go down, that inevitably the other shoe will drop. We forget our tools and struggle so hard to carry on with this horrible story playing round and round in the mind.

I am no stranger to this as a cancer survivor. It is as if my body and mind and spirit want to shore up the defenses, maybe lessen the blow if I already expect the very worse to happen. The end result though is not very pretty. What happens is that you prolong your misery, carrying a tight, tense body, holding your breath, stress hormones coursing through your body.

Just the other day, I was talking with someone and she was convinced that the absolute worst possible scenario had happened when her boyfriend failed to answer his phone. She had worked herself up into a tearful, panicked state. Having lost someone close to her in a car accident years ago, she experienced this immense fear as post-traumatic stress and it was affecting so many aspects of her life, from physical well being to how she expressed her emotions and her willingness to try new and risky things. She felt like she were locked up in this tight box of stress.

In our coaching together, I used this as an opportunity to talk about Storytelling. In this moment as we waited for her boyfriend to notice the call on his cell phone, we first named and described the story she was currently telling herself –that he had a terrible car accident. Next, I asked her what else could be possible, what other stories could she tell herself as to why he hadn’t answered the phone? He could have gone to have some lunch, he could be caught up talking with a friend, perhaps his cell phone battery had died, or he had turned the ringer off. We went on a little bit exploring these different possibilities, right up until the moment that her phone pinged and he texted her that he was fine, that he was sorry to have missed her call.

This is perhaps a more extreme example. The PTSD that my client experiences is very real, and with the help of EFT tapping and other coaching tools like storytelling, we are beginning to create new pathways of beliefs and strategies for coping.

What story are you telling yourself today? Where does that story live in your body? Feel into and notice what your holding pattern is. Is there another story you can be telling yourself? It starts with noticing, and then deliberately choosing to draw your attention to another possibility. We can’t control every outcome, but we can affect how we feel in this moment. Our ability to cope and our natural resourceful resiliency is buffered when we can find our OK’ness and our center in this present moment.

Melissa Eppard lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley, NY area with her young son and talented musician husband. After overcoming breast cancer in her mid-30's, she knows that nothing is guaranteed in life. As a Personal Life Coach she has made it her mission to ignite the spark of purposeful living and creative fire in everyone she meets.

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