Updated: Sep 13, 2022
One of my intentions for 2021 is to deepen my trust in the universe and it’s “plan” for me. Put in less spiritual terms, what I mean is to feel more secure in all areas of my life, from relationships to finances and health. More specifically, the type of security I am looking to cultivate is entirely internal.
Most of us are used to looking for security outside of ourselves. We derive security from having a house, a car, a job, investments, family or romantic partners, and all kinds of external things. When those things are taken away from us, by circumstances such as this pandemic, we are often catapulted into panic-mode, maybe even followed by depression or a sense of helplessness. At least, this is what I’ve noticed tends to be the case in American culture.
Living in Argentina, where everything, especially the economy, is continuously unstable, I’ve seen another approach to the topic of security. They call Buenos Aires, “La Ciudad de la Furia” (The City of Fury) and when I first got here, it certainly felt like a storm of chaos. I struggled to understand how it’s citizens didn’t go completely crazy just going about their day. Yet, most Argentines, from what I’ve observed, seem to always carry with them a sense that it will all work out. They don’t seem to rely on the money in their bank account or the systems in place to feel secure. If you spend enough time here, you will understand why that’s the least reliable source of security.
When I first became aware of this astute difference between internal and external security, I knew there was something here for me to learn. So I began to play a sort of game with myself. A simple “mindfulness” game. The premise was to “catch myself in the act.” To simply notice through-out the day all of the external circumstances that threw me off my center and caused me to feel insecure. What came up was everything from a friend or romantic interest not texting or calling me back, to losing a client or student, or public transportation not working and having to miss appointments. All day long, things came up, producing moments of insecurity to various degrees. Now I’m not saying I am a bundle of anxiety about to explode into a panic attack. However, more things came up, the more aware I became of the sensation and feeling of insecurity.
Level two of this little game was to observe how this insecurity, no matter how small it was, affected my body. Where it caused me to tense up. How long it took to relax after, or if it stayed there. And how my digestive system reacted. This last one is pretty big for me because I used to think of myself as someone with a sensitive stomach when really it was the culmination of all of these little daily moments of insecurity adding stress to my nervous system until it piled up and transformed into physical ailments such as heartburn.
The next part of the game was to notice how this insecurity caused me to act, think, and speak. I became aware of what choices I made as a result of it, and how I responded or interacted with people around me. Specifically, I began to notice what I asked or expected from others.
Finally, the last stage of the game, the one I am currently in, is putting into place some practices for deriving security directly from within. For me, this means being able to shift or reprogram my thoughts in the moment that they come in. Not assuming the worst, not jumping to conclusions, not letting myself spiral into negative self-talk, and not blaming anyone or anything for what’s going on. Although it doesn’t always seem that way, we always have a choice as to how we perceive our circumstances, if we can catch ourselves in the act of creating our beliefs and opinions about them.
To take that one level deeper, it can also be effective to go back to beliefs you’ve been holding on to from a young age and begin reframing those too. Usually, you can identify those by observing attachments to certain “I am” statements such as “I am not good at that.” Those internalized statements that usually stem from one moment in your life a long time ago when you decided you weren’t “good at that” have unconsciously created your identity. But they don’t have to define who you are today. Are you willing and ready to let those statements and beliefs go?
For me, there are certain phrases I am choosing to completely remove from my vocabulary such as “I can’t believe he/she did that to me,” or “Why does this always happen to me?” or one that is probably relevant for all of us, “I can’t… because of the pandemic.” This type of language just perpetuates a state where you are a victim of your circumstances. It implies that your behavior, intentions or thoughts play no role in how you perceive your reality, and in that way completely disempowers you. It limits your possibilities and clouds your vision, keeping you in that dark hole of believing that you have no options.
Instead, what I am choosing to do is recognize that my day will be filled with triggers. I don’t have to react to those triggers or feed them in any way. I can simply shift my perspective. Of course, shifting from a negative to a positive state is not always that easy. One of the “embodiment” exercises I personally incorporate into my practice of shifting states is to choose a memory of a time that I felt secure and begin to recall those feelings. I try to invite the emotion of security that this memory gave me, into my body. Feel it in all my body. Notice what releases or relaxes. Notice how the quality of my breath changes. Notice the area between my eyebrows softening and my lips curling up in a gentle smile of relief.
The more you can teach your body to recall this feeling, the easier it becomes to sustain a state of internal security in the face of all of your unwanted, external circumstances. Keep in mind that this is a focused practice and it may not come naturally the first few times you try it. Consistency and deepening your trust in yourself or whatever greater forces you believe in are key.
I invite you to join me in setting an intention for 2021 to cultivate this sense of internal security. As the first few weeks of 2021 have proven, the craziness is not going to go away just because we’re in a new year!
Please feel free to reach out with your thoughts on the topic or leave a comment below!