Morning Pages as Therapy

As I enter my fourth week in following The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, writing for 30 minutes every day (morning pages) has helped me grow tremendously. I have been inspired to try new things, revived dormant interests, and explored what I am thinking, doing, feeling, and why. The wonderful thing about morning pages is that lessons you learn elsewhere get further explored and/or stimulated in the morning pages.

Recently, I borrowed Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, PhD., from my local library. I read the first chapter, and wanted to immediately reread it again. Last night, I put the book by my bedside and reread chapter 1. Its essential message is that all our fears boil down to the fear that we can’t handle it. The solution is to use the tools in the book to help us retrain our thoughts into realizing that, yes, we can handle it, whatever it may be.

I noted several times yesterday that I seemed to be having a concentrated feeling of anxiety in my chest. The feelings were not as strong as a panic attack, but there they were. Whereas I used to have chronic anxiety, I have been feeling relatively confident and peaceful since I began following the The Artist’s Way and building a new routine around building my writing career.

During my morning meditation, my thoughts kept going towards thoughts and movie scenes that produced anxiety and anger in me. In the movie The Blindside, the adoptive mother goes to look for Michael in his old, gang-ridden neighborhood. In a confrontation with gang members, she tells the gang that she carries a Saturday Night Special and that it works every other day of the week, too.

That scene evokes an I’m-ready-to-fight and Go get ’em! feelings in my chest and stomach. I kept releasing the thoughts, but realized that the thoughts invading my meditation needed to be explored. Since Susan Jeffers book was on my mind, I decided to explore how the basis of my fears might be related to the I can’t handle it lesson that Jeffers says we all learned.

By asking Where have I felt this anxiety before?, I realized that the anxiety is one I have had all my life: that I won’t be good enough (at something) fast enough. Even when I worked harder, the anxiety kept me pushing me forward saying, That’s still not good enough. I remembered how the child Me used to look up to adults, especially my mother and father, to handle things. When they couldn’t or didn’t, I felt helpless. When I faced my own challenges, I was terrified and felt like I couldn’t handle it. Subconsciously, I think that I kept expecting adults to show me how. This is just the nature of being a child who is dependent upon others.

I woke up to the fact that I have been keeping to this pattern ever since. Whatever I observed that my family didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t do, I didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t, and shouldn’t do, either. I asked myself, “What other areas in my life have I modeled on my family instead of doing what I honestly should have been doing all along?” Relationships? Sex? Money? I will have to examine each area of my life to recover my own sense of what it is that I want and need to get done.

Every time I ask myself what I should be doing, I get the same answer: Look and listen for the answers inside myself. As Jeffers points out, the truth is that I can handle it. I can only accept what happens to me and what I choose to do because it is the way I want to live. Life is lovely because it is all I will ever really have as I experience my life in this body until my end. So many wonderful things are here, and I am ready to experience them all.

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