Updated: Feb 12, 2022
There have been numerous events throughout my rewiring journey that I would consider big. Big, of course, is relative to our perception and current training zone; but I am referring to any foreseen event outside the day-to-day routine. It also may be something so far out of your training zone that you aren’t sure whether or not to commit. In my case those events have included getting engaged, getting married, various large gatherings with friends and family, applying for graduate school and currently studying for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). None of these things were in my training zone when I decided to engage in them, so I found ways to navigate them by asking some helpful questions.
Do I really want to do this?
The events mentioned above I definitely wanted to do. Sometimes it isn’t obvious if I’m saying yes/no to something for limbic reasons. Late last year I was at home getting ready for a monthly recurring social event and was feeling triggered. I thought about the whole evening: the hour long drive in rush hour traffic, arriving and socializing, having dinner and listening to a presentation. It seemed like my limbic system was being fussy over the drive, until I imagined that instead of going to the social event I could go to a nearby mall and shop. Suddenly I didn’t care about the drive and realized it was the actual event I wasn’t finding enjoyable, so I chose to stay home and do something else. When I have discerned that I really want something independent of false limbic messages, it's easier move forward.
How much time do I have to plan?
While training for a wedding seemed over-challenging at one time, I did have 10 months to prepare. If there is a good deal of time, which is also relative to the event and current training zone, then I evaluate what elements to train on that would make the event fun and easy. Having a full day of activity was an area that needing some work, so I focused my rewiring on adding more activity into my day. There were more zoom calls, planned outings and daily tasks I gave myself. By the wedding weekend, I had two and a half days with activities from sunrise to long after sunset and it was fantastic. There have been times where I committed to things out of my training zone that were only days away. In these cases I didn’t think about what elements to train around. That often led to unhelpful thoughts about how I would make it. Instead, I used the time I had to do two or three visualizations a day on what enthused me the most about the event. I also redirected any negative thoughts that would arise with one simple phrase like “oh that’s so silly, this is so much fun and I am ready for it”. I always had (and still have) a self-care plan.
What’s my day of self-care plan?
This is not to be confused with fortune telling/future predicting. It is okay to recognize that we may need to have a little extra help during a big event while rewiring and make a plan. This means that the plan will often have a greater emphasis on rewiring tools rather than things outside of yourself used to manage specific symptom relief, though that can be a small part of it in some cases. Tips for a good self-care plan: 1) Put it in writing and on something easy to carry, like an index card. It's easier to pull out a card than try to recall your plan from memory when triggered. 2) List your top mood elevating ideas that are realistic to the event. I love hot baths, but if I’m making a self-care plan for attending a concert then that wouldn’t work well. Things I would include in this case are “sing along to favorite songs, smile and giggle, close my eyes and imagine I’m at a concert on the beach” (if I were in a stadium). They are relevant to the location and things that could actually be done. The hot bath idea would be funny so I may write it on there just for a laugh. ;0) 3) Have short, positive thoughts that can be repeated like a mantra before, during and after the event to reinforce healthy pathways. These are not just for when negative thoughts come up; they are meant to be proactive and done even if the limbic system is staying at ease.
What are my indicators for staying or choosing to leave?
I always walk into something with the intention of doing it with ease and it doesn’t always turn out that way. It was important for me to know when I needed to cater to my limbic system and when to just use my tools and let whatever was happening be there. There are now two main ways I judge this. When my emotional state can’t be shifted to rise above whatever limbic state I am in, I step back. If I am using my tools and they are getting so tedious that it is becoming more work than fun, then it’s time to go. Earlier in my journey I wanted to start attending my friend’s annual Halloween murder mystery party again. At the time my training zone had me at home most of the day, so attending that party meant I would be around a lot of triggers at once. During the party I noticed that my limbic system was really active so I stepped away to do a short round and some gentle calming touch on my arms to soothe myself. After returning to the party, still pretty triggered, it was becoming difficult to focus on fun so I chose to say goodnight and leave.
It is the day of an event and the limbic system is so active. What do I do?
This seems commonplace in my experience. I would feel like I was really ready for an event I had planned for; then the day of, my limbic system would be such a toot! There was one occurrence where I canceled my plans to attend a meaningful family event the morning of. I learned something very valuable from that day. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you choose to do; it matters that you label your choice as okay. This was probably just as important for me as using mood elevating tools. The thought pattern of "not completing the goal or task equals failure" was putting unnecessary stress on me. Not going was not a failure. I stayed home and put my well-being first. Leaving a friends party early was not a failure. I went and enjoyed what I could. Eventually when the day of an event came and I felt silly stuff arising I did some tools and went about my business. Usually when I got to an event or place I had so much other stuff to focus on I didn’t care about any limbic messages. Sometimes I did need to leave and at that point my primary focus was to watch my internal dialogue to make sure I was labeling everything as an accomplishment.
Laura McCook is using DNRS and other rewiring tools to do what she loves and wanted to do before her perfect storm. After leaving the corporate world to focus on well-being, she’s now an active single and multi-family real estate investor, a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader and Certified Residential Indoor Environmentalist. Throughout her healing process Laura chose to explore her creative energy by learning to play the guitar and piano, which she practices regularly and continues to take weekly piano lessons. She also loves cooking, organic edible and butterfly gardening, volunteering with a local cat rescue organization and is applying for graduate school in the fall. Website: www.lauramccook.com Laughter Yoga YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP_QzxrEBxfwL1hd54oaizg