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How To 'Anchor' Yourself In The Midst Of Chronic Overwhelm?

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

'Anchoring' is a skill that helps you feel grounded, physiologically safe, and psychologically engaged. It helps you embody your purpose in the midst of chronic overwhelm, change, challenge, and opportunity. While a practice mindset, discernment, consistency, and translation are all key components when navigating 'in between' moments, 'anchoring' has the unique purpose of reducing uncertainty to the greatest degree.

Why? Because 'anchoring' experiences, places, and relationships, help you reduce uncertainty by coming back to *what* you value/believe in, *how* you want to move through the world, *who* needs to come along for the ride, and your *Why*. This is as helpful when inspiring your team(s) at work, as it is when you're deciding on where to invest your energy in your personal life. Disclaimer: it's easy to confuse habits, status quo, and familiarity with 'anchoring' practices. That's a mistake.

How come? Your nervous system is not set up to differentiate between 'helpful' discomfort and 'unhelpful' discomfort. It's whole purpose is to scan potential threat and keep you physiologically safe. It can confuse physiological familiarity or 'unhelpful' discomfort for overall well-being. This can get in the way of embodying your purpose. As such, your nervous system needs more information as to how 'helpful' discomfort does *not* threaten your physiological safety.

That being said, this requires practicing mental and emotional patience while your physical body registers enough info over time. 'Anchoring' experiences, places, and relationships help your nervous system understand that embodying your purpose is not physiologically threatening to you or those around you. Here are 3 questions to come back to when 'anchoring' to help reduce your nervous system's uncertainty and increase its adaptability:

1. How might you meet yourself with loving kindness as you self-attune towards experiences, places, and relationships that help you embody your purpose in physiologically safe ways?

Disclaimer: your body's history, childhood experiences, identities, housing situation, connection to community, access to mental health supports, access to healthcare, access to work opportunities, socio-economic background, and other factors impact your nervous system's flexibility. Your adaptability to change or your nervous system flexibility exists in the broader context of your lived experience. Your context influences your body's experience. These are not 'excuses'. And. They're also not the 'end all be all' meant to discourage you from embodying your purpose. These are influential factors to take into account.

Whatever your starting point, your nervous system has had to navigate massive change and challenge at a societal and personal level over the past three years. So, the opportunity here lies in kindly practicing mental and emotional patience while you self-attune towards 'helpful' discomfort.

2. How might you identify the mental/rational and emotional difference between 'helpful' and 'unhelpful' discomfort?

Your nervous system may initially experience both as threatening unfamiliarity. Emotionally speaking, I invite you to notice 'helpful' discomfort as something that adds to your emotional well-being and/or sense of purpose. You'll know that something 'adds' when it increases your capacity to deepen the connection with your Self, your values, *and* your community. Rationally speaking, I invite you to think of 'helpful' discomfort in terms of whether it helps you cultivate a skill that gets you closer to your goals and/or helps you contribute to something greater than yourself. Each person and nervous system is a whole world. So, I invite you to get curious about what *your* physiological safety cues over time.

3. What 'anchoring' experiences, places, and relationships help you embody (more) physiological safety in the midst of chronic overwhelm, change, challenge, and/or opportunity?

Through emotional and mental patience, you give your physical body time to 'anchor' in the midst of 'helpful' discomfort. For example, you may notice signs of physiologically safe experiences based on how deep you can breathe and/or how much you can laugh through them. You may notice that some places are more conducive to your nervous system's physiological safety based on how relaxed your shoulders feel and/or how steady your voice sounds. You may notice that certain relationships help you embody physiological safety based on how your inner dialogue sounds and/or how your stomach feels, for example.

For more on exploring how to embody your purpose in the midst of chronic overwhelm, change, challenge, and/or opportunity, sign up here to receive these articles every Blog Day Thursday!

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