I am afraid of snakes. Very afraid. I’m so afraid of them, I have a hard time looking at pictures of them. I feel anxious just hearing other peoples’ stories about encountering them.
Larry has found about five snake skins in the yard this summer. For a few days after he finds them, I move carefully when I go outside. I examine every stick from afar before I venture into the yard.
When he saw a live snake in the side yard near his truck, I could barely listen to his story. I thought about it later, feeling anxious and worried. I wished for winter.
So why am I including with this post a photo of a snake skin?
I made myself take the picture. Though I felt fear, I made myself walk up to the skin. I held up my phone and took several photos. I made myself look at the photos.
I’m not sure if this “exposure” did much good. When I was flipping through the photos on my phone earlier this week, I shuddered—I did that “jump out of my skin” move—when I unexpectedly saw one of the snake skin photos.
But still, I keep looking at the photo. And I’m sharing it with you.
I’ve been dealing with anxiety over life issues in a similar way. Life has been hard lately, as you know. Bedtime is probably the hardest time because I have less to distract me.
I decided that I would try an experiment. Instead of trying to immediately change my thoughts or cover up the bad emotions with visualizations or calming recitations, I would focus on experiencing the anxiety.
I feel the anxiety the most in my chest. It’s like a weight in the center of my chest. When panic comes, my chest physically hurts.
I have focused on the hate I’ve felt, too. I’m not proud to say that, but that’s what I’ve felt at times. It, too, is a heavy weight.
Anxiety, hate, anger, hopelessness—they all settle in my chest. I feel like it’s going to burst.
I want to get up and move or talk or read or listen to music.
But I try to lie there and be mindful of how I’m feeling, even for just a short while.
My hope is that the more I face my emotions, the less afraid I’ll be of them and the less I will do to avoid facing the issues that are causing the emotions in the first place.
My focus on emotions is not a new idea. There is a lot of good information out there about living mindfully and accepting our emotions. I did an online search and found some good, science-based information HERE and HERE.
One good thing that has come out of my experimentation with this is that I’ve become less afraid of being still and alone with my thoughts and emotions. I hope this leads to more calmness and peace.
And the snake skin photo? I hope from now on the only snake skin I see will be in a picture. That’s about as far as I want to go with that exposure.
How do you deal with uncomfortable emotions?