Change how you relate to mental chatter

So many people feel great after a good cry—do you? Crying can release  endorphins, which eases pain and stress in the body and emotions.

For a long time, I wasn’t able to cry very easily. I would feel sad for days, but couldn’t flip the grief switch to get the tears out. Mental chatter (why are you crying, it’s not that bad, stop it…) froze melancholy just below my throat.

But on Mothers Day, I changed how I relate to my mental chatter. I heard that my “other” mother died and was flooded by the depth of my appreciation for her.

Arline was the mom of one of my neighborhood friends growing up. Visiting her house, I saw another way to have a family, one with attention and without rage. A decade later, when I was going through a tough time in college, Arline offered unspeakable support, helping me move beyond deep anxiety into young adult life—I’m not sure I’d be here without her. Even in her old age with repetitive Alzheimer’s stories, her joy was a model for being human.

After I heard the news of her death, even with a flood of appreciation and grief, I still had a mental block in my throat. My mind kept telling me how I shouldn’t cry, she wasn’t my real mother, etc. etc. Just stop, it repeated on an endless loop.

So I decided to disconnect.

Most of us know how easy it is to disconnect from the body when the mind is shouting orders. We might try to convince the mind to let the body express itself. Or we hope the mind will finally subside so the body has some breathing room.

There was no space for me with my mind’s proverbial drill sergeant. It wanted none of that wimpy crying.

I knew deep down though, that my body was right. So I let the sorrow arise out of my belly and heart, and kind of pretended to cry.

How to describe this? I was being my body’s support and cheerleader, turning my focus away from the LOUD drill sergeant to release what the body needed to do.

After a few sobs that were both pretend and real (in some weird way), I could feel that awkward panting breath you get when you really cry. My body felt some release. Finally, the Sergeant said something like, well, I guess it’s okay that you cried. My body had room for more natural tears until it was done.

Changing your mind-body battle

Maybe you’re a full-on good crier, and this seems ridiculous for you. Hurray!

But if you ever feel that mind-body battle, let yourself feel foolish. Act as if your mind doesn’t really know what it’s talking about, and listen to your gut for a while. I know, the sergeant sound track can be annoyingly persistent. But it will likely get the message, even for just a moment or two.

You’re practicing how to steer a different neural-pathway track. One where your body’s wisdom, grief, silliness, quietude, creativity, and connection lead you to moments of healing, and real life.

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