At her first appointment, Kyung1 describes unrelenting anxiety that interferes with eating, sleeping, working, and enjoying life. “I’m done! I’ve tried Rescue Remedy, meditation, therapy, and meds. I need it to stop now!”
While I might be tempted to explain that most change is slow and gradual, the energy of “Done!” can herald big shifts. Together we pay attention to the details of what is happening in her body.
Allow space for everything
One powerful tool for change is to allow space for everything that is present. Be with the need for change, sense into its urgency and complexity, and validate being done with “reasonable” and “moderate”. Be with the symptoms you want to change as well. They both make sense in their own contexts.
Kyung says hello to her anxiety as she feels it in this moment, and also says hello to the urgent need for the anxiety to stop. She feels anxiety off to her left, and “all done” to her right, with room for both of them to be there at the same time. We let them both know they can be exactly the way they are for as long as that’s so. She sighs with relief as some of the pressure eases.
Drop what isn’t yours
When we try everything to solve a problem, and nothing works, we tend to believe we are not trying hard enough. We work harder, faster, longer until we exhaust our resources. The “All done!” of exhaustion breaks that cycle, allowing us to consider that the problem might not be ours at all.
We have no leverage on energy that isn’t ours. When we try to change ourselves to fix a problem we did not cause, we only dig the hole deeper, until we finally realize we were okay all along and put down the shovel.
As Kyung sits with both her anxiety and the need for it to stop, she thinks of her grandmother, who lived with them when she was small. With adult perspective, she recognizes her grandmother’s anxious mannerisms, and her own loving wish to soothe the tension. As she considers whether some of her anxiety might belong to her grandmother, she feels a heavy burden lift away and laughs, astonished.
Dropping what isn’t ours brings change simply and quickly. The catch is that we have to accept the feelings first. As long as we resist, we cannot let go. After we surrender to the truth of our experience, wondering “Maybe this isn’t mine,” can bring lightness and space.
Trust in recycling
When we feel overwhelmed, chaotic, and trapped, we might have recently picked up others’ energy. Clearing it away puts us back in contact with inner calm. We can gently sweep away energy that no longer serves us, brushing along the body.
Sometimes we hold on to what isn’t ours because we want to protect the people around us from harmful energy. We might also worry about how to push the energy back to its rightful owner. I visualize an energy shower from the ceiling, flowing toward a drain in the floor. Any released energy gets carried back to the earth for recycling. Where it goes after that is not our problem nor our business.
Listen for “Let it go!”
Sometimes we advise ourselves, “Let it go!” Say hello to that voice, and listen for what it does not want. It might not want a fight, or internal distress, or to appear obsessive or attached. Beneath that, listen for what it does want: peace, or calm, or balance.
Also listen for what is being admonished to let go. Somewhere, something is holding on, or feeling a disallowed emotion like anger, or shame. Consider making room for both parts to be just the way they are for as long as that’s so.
Feeling done with life
Sometimes “All done!” with an intolerably painful situation can manifest as suicidal thoughts, or feeling done with life. Intense shame can also lead to suicidal thoughts.
The first priority is to stay safe. If you have a suicidal plan, please read this. When feeling done with life, create a lot of space for what is true right now, including wanting to die, wanting to live, and the reactions to all of that. Allow anything that isn’t yours to fall away. In particular, shame that belongs to abusers seems to stick to their victims instead. Send that shame back to the earth!
Decisions and risks
“All done!” might apply to a job, career, housing situation, or relationship with ups and downs, where the latest boundary violation has tipped the balance from “workable” to “no more”. The shift might be a surprise, or it might be the culmination of a long struggle for resolution. A solid sense of being done opens doors to risks and decisions that were previously unpalatable.
“All done!” might also mark withdrawal from a level of risk or uncertainty that is now unacceptable after yet another red flag. A self-protective instinct from deep inside demands change from existing patterns. Asking for help might become a new possibility for one person, while another person might go it alone for the first time.
How would it feel if the issue changed right now? Is there something inside that is already there? Does anything object to the new feeling? Hidden resistance might come forward in response to imagined success. Listen for its truth.
Alternatively, imagining success might show a clear path to reach it. Ask inside, “What if this problem is already solved?” Open to words, images, and emotions that carry a new solution. Perhaps a switch can shut off the emergency alarm triggered long ago, and anxiety can just stop.
Emerge into new terrain
Like Kyung, we may have struggled with a recurring issue for years, full of frustration and despair, until the clarity or surprise of “All done!” brings a shift. When we allow all our conflicting feelings to be present, drop what isn’t ours, and imagine the problem is already solved, we can emerge into new terrain.
1. Kyung is fictional. Her story represents a common pattern I see in sessions.↩
How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Cheri Huber contains stories and advice about being with your experience, no matter how hard it is.