Okay, so recently I had the honor and pleasure of spending time with Gerald Epstein, M.D., one of my many teachers. He is a phenomenal educator, pioneer and leader in the field of mental imagery for healing. His work has been praised worldwide by patients and the medical community alike.
Have you ever experienced a “false emergency”? I have! It’s a phrase Dr. Epstein uses and I wanted to share it with you because it’s something that we, modern people, have adopted as a habit, a lifestyle. And it’s harmful to your health!
A false emergency is when you worry about something that has already happened or doesn’t yet exist. It is a perceived threat that sends you and your body into unnecessary distress. For instance, maybe you’re worried about work, or your family or your significant other and your tummy is tied up in knots. Or perhaps you’ve got your knickers in a twist right at this very moment about something that has already happened or that you want to make happen. Either way, you are extracting yourself from the present moment, stepping right into a false emergency. I’ve definitely been there many times, and I bet you have too.
Let’s just define a true emergency. It sounds simple enough: a true emergency is a life or death situation that takes place in the present. And most of us act as if our false emergencies are true! Rinse and repeat, and you’ve got yourself a habit. To top things off, our subconscious mind doesn’t know fact from fiction, so it informs our body that we are in imminent danger, making the false emergency even more real. Your nervous system shifts into fight or flight, aka high gear, which sends blood and oxygen into your arms and legs so you can either put up your dukes, or run, run, run. Your body then floods itself with a fancy stress cocktail, causing tension and an increase in anxiety and fear, interfering with any higher reasoning that might serve you better given the circumstances. Pretty intense, right?
Here are five things I do regularly to shift the cycle of false emergencies. I hope they help you too!
1. Pay attention to your thoughts!
Notice if you’re shoulding, coulding or woulding on yourself. Those 3 words will keep you in the past or place you in the future, in false emergency mode, rather than in the NOW.
2. Ask yourself if the thought or perceived threat is true or false?
Hint: Choosing true means it’s a threat to your existence, a life or death situation taking place in the present moment.
3. Take deep breaths! Allow your exhalations to be longer than your inhalations.
Exhaling longer activates your safety or relaxation response.
4. Add some visual imagery! Imagery is the language of the subconscious.
This is where Dr. Epstein’s brilliant visual guidance work comes in handy. Continue breathing and when you’re ready, see and sense your entire being becoming like the surface of calm water reflecting the starry sky. When you have fully sensed this, know that your anxiety has gone, and open your eyes. (Do this anytime and as often as needed)
5. Take note of any ideas or action steps that come to mind.
Write them down, and take one small step right away.
At any point during the process, give the false emergency over to your higher power, the Universe, Source Energy, Angels, Faeries, etc.
Like anything, you’ll need to practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature. Other people may wonder what’s wrong with you for not freaking out. Remember, we’ve been taught over time that these modern day issues are true emergencies. This doesn’t mean that we ignore how the emergency feels, it simply means you’re choosing to honor your temple and recognize in the moment that you’re okay. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you kindly. You’ve actively chosen to be FREE from those false emergencies! Should you have a genuine emergency, seek help immediately.
Photo Credit: Check out Free Yourself Image Blog here. Thank you!
To learn more about Dr. Epstein’s work, go to dr.jerryepstein.org
P.S. – We’ll talk more about feelings soon. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what other steps you take in these situations, feel free to leave a comment or question below!
I’m so excited to share my first official MindRealign note. Whether it’s in the form of an actual note, a quote, tip, video or an experience, I look forward to sharing weekly-ish tools and inspiration to help you understand, embrace and harness the power of your magical mind.
By Jennifer 02.03.15 - 5:31 pm
Perfect timing! I was just getting stressed over something that hasn’t happened + something that I have zero evidence will happen.
This is such a great reminder to reconnect with the present.
I’m taking a nice big breath now and choosing in this moment to be FREE!
By karlalightfoot 02.04.15 - 2:12 pm
So great to hear! Like you, I believe we get what we need at exactly the right time. All I know is I’ve been there myself many times… Rinse and repeat being in the present! Thanks for checking out my blog. It was a long first post, but I had fun writing it!
See you soon!
By Nan Einarson 02.03.15 - 6:52 pm
Hi Karla – Congratulations! Great first blog post! Your description of False Emergency vs Real Emergency is very informative. False Emergencies often lead to my area of expertise – procrastination! Perhaps we could trade articles sometime.
By karlalightfoot 02.04.15 - 2:09 pm
Thanks Nan! Sounds like it could be a great exchange. Let’s keep in touch as I continue to dig in. Maybe we can chat in a few months?
By Janece 02.04.15 - 1:13 pm
Wonderful information! We are so used to living in the stream of our negative thoughts and perceptions. Understanding that we CAN reprogram the way we think and respond is a powerful thing. Thank you for sharing tools to make it happen and put us in a stream of Happy.
By karlalightfoot 02.05.15 - 5:44 pm
Thank you so much Janece. I know you know this stuff, it means a lot that you found it valuable too. Hope you’re well!
By Rachel 02.05.15 - 2:05 am
Just listened to your rest audio, and feeling so calm and peaceful, I read your post here. It comes at a much needed time! Anxiety, stress, day to day issues. And they are wrecking havoc on my mind and body. Or rather, I’m letting them. Reading your words about true emergencies made me realize I don’t need to let these stresses overwhelm me. Just be present, in the now. Thank you, Karla.
By karlalightfoot 02.05.15 - 5:42 pm
So glad you found it useful. It’s a practice! Be gentle with yourself. We’ve all been taught to respond in that way.
See you soon!