I had a theatre teacher who, with a giant smile, would say, "perfect!" at the end of just about everything, even when it appeared obvious to me, that it wasn't.
And he became this voice in my head.
It was perfect, or more importantly, it was perfect even if it wasn't "perfect."
This is how my body understood it based on who this phenomenal teacher was and the visceral FEELING of being in the studio with him. "All is good and right and safe regardless of what you may do or not do, Lisa. You are fundamentally okay, even though you might be struggling with an exercise or bombing on stage or stupid frozen scared. It's okay if it's not okay. There are no tigers and you belong in this class."
My sister and I were taking a trip together and were about to travel from point A to B. This is a moment that brings up scary feelings based on past experiences. In this moment this old voice returned "maybe things are perfect, Lisa."
And while this voice...
1. didn't guarantee that nothing bad would happen to me.
2. it did calm my body down by acknowledging the fear and addressing the present time moment so I didn't have to walk through the entire day with a knife already at my back. This, ultimately, let me think clearer and interact more intelligently with those around me.
It's hard to go through relationships thinking they'll end, even though they might.
It's hard to live our lives with a fear of not getting work next month, even though we might not.
It's hard to go through life believing that we're fundamentally alone, even if we might be single or without plans for the evening.
All these fears could possibly become true, however, it's hard to survive if we live there permanently.
Our body doesn't know the difference between real and imagined.
These learned beliefs based on past events are so terrifying for our bodies. These beliefs wear us out and keep us from clear thinking and connection to others. They keep us from seeing what's actually happening right now. It's as thought our bodies are permanently running away from tigers, or fighting off wolves, or alone in the middle of the forest, or back in our childhood, or last week or in our first relationship.
So, an alternative, for our bodies sake, even though yes, all these things could become true or have been true in the past, is to let it know that,
"hey, I see you, I'm sorry it's been so scary for you. It's okay that you don't feel okay."
And then, after taking a moment with what is, maybe you continue to whisper "Hey, it's ok. You are loved and I've got your back, sweetie."
Maybe, right now, in this moment, it is perfect.
Say this slow to yourself, even whisper it in your ear, like you're talking to a child, because in a way, you are. Say it less like a pep talk in the bathroom mirror (those some of those youtube videos are pretty darn cute). Say this while feeling the feelings.
Pema Chodron says it this way, "“Affirmations are like screaming that you’re okay in order to overcome this whisper that you’re not. That’s a big contrast to actually uncovering the whisper, realizing that it’s a passing memory, and moving closer to all those fears and all those edgy feelings that maybe you’re not okay. Well, no big deal. None of us is okay and all of us are fine. It’s not just one way. We are walking, talking paradoxes.”
This doesn't mean we should stop learning or quit fighting evil powers or stop creating, just that maybe, for the time being, it's all good, ya know? Meaning, maybe, right now, while travelling from a to b, my body can possibly rest. Of course it can be aware and conscious, but it will do this better if it's not on high alert.
And yes this is simplified, and yes we could and should and will amplify this to include a conversation on trauma and privilege, and so for a start, maybe, if anything, this conversation can spark empathy for those that may be walking through their entire lives with the belief that things are terrifying, because that's what their body believes because that's what it was taught by the culture, country, family, or beliefs that it was born into.
Maybe for now we could begin to recognize when we or others are running from tigers and be a bit more gentle.