Part 2 of Tolerating Calm
How does one tolerate calm, when the state of calm can actually trigger anxiety?
Well, psychotherapy has been on about this for a long time. It’s a big part of what I do every day.
It Takes a Village
I’m not alone and psychotherapy itself is not alone in helping people with this difficult task. There are many other sources of help for people pursuing this thing called calm. Medication is probably main alternative (not just the prescription kind, mind you). There are also shelves — entire libraries, really — full of self-help and wellness books. Podcasts and YouTube videos abound. There are workshops, seminars and weekend retreats to match all budgets. For the very wealthy, I recently read of an increasingly popular option: the tropical wellness vacation. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a kinder, gentler modern version of electro-convulsive therapy. Vitamins, nutrition and exercise are widely recommended. Reiki, biofeedback, acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy… and something called tapping, which I keep hearing about. The list goes on and on.
Not all of these interventions are fully and directly about tolerating calm. In fact, I’d be surprised if any of them use that term. It’s a bit weird. Psychotherapy might focus on this tolerating calm business more directly than the others. However, I think it’s safe to say that everything mentioned above — to at least some small extent; directly or indirectly — seeks to help people stock the shelves in the calmness department.
I myself am about to start using an alternative-to-psychotherapy intervention. It involves listening to certain frequencies of sound, which are designed to soothe and re-condition the nervous system. In other words, it’s calming. (As you might guess, there will be a blog post or two about this in the not-too-distant future.)
Personally, I’m good with this wide range of interventions. As much as I dig psychotherapy, I know not everyone is into it. If people can find help through other means, that’s cool.
Because Tolerating Calm is Hard
Tolerating calm is super, incredibly, exceedingly, very hard.
The “calm” part is not actually the problem. The “tolerating” part is. Consider the fact that the phrase is not achieving calm; but tolerating it.
Want to become calm? Find a quiet spot, sit down and remain still for awhile. Or go for a walk somewhere reasonably free of traffic and people; preferably with trees, as research suggests trees help us to relax.
Achieving calm is not particularly hard.
However, many people I work with actually start to feel panic, just thinking about sitting quietly by themselves; especially alone. Others might not panic, but calmness seems to be a wide-open doorway for what we in the biz call “rumination.” Rumination destroys calm with great efficiency.
See the pattern? Getting calm = easy. Staying calm = hard.
Oh dear. I’m already well over that silly 500 word limit which the capricious internet gods have decreed as law. Tsk. I’ve only scratched the surface of this tolerating calm thing.
Oh well. At least I don’t have to think very hard about next week’s topic. Tune in for Tolerating Calm, Part 3!