Taking Care of Your Fear

I recently had a follow-up ultrasound to monitor a small area in my breast. Fortunately, nothing had changed and it was confirmed, once again, to be benign.

As I was having the procedure done, I noticed my mental chatter ramping up as my mind tried to manage my fear by attempting to control the situation.

“Hmm, she’s putting no pressure on the wand so even if it’s bad news it must be near the surface which I think is good.”

“Oh wait, now she’s pressing down a bit. That can’t be good.”

“If she lightens up in the next 10 seconds then I’m fine.”

I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths and shifted my thinking.

“It’s ok, kiddo. I got you. No matter the outcome, you’re in good hands with me.”

I immediately felt my body calm down.

The technician left the room to show the doctor the pictures.

There I was, laying on the table, waiting for her (and possibly the doctor) to come back with the results.

Five minutes go by.

Ten minutes.

And there goes my mind.

“If she comes back in alone, all is well. If the doctor is with her, that’s bad news.”

“What’s taking so long?”

“This can’t be good.”

I take some more deep breaths.

“It’s ok, kiddo. I got you. It’s all good.”

I calm down again. So much so I practically fall asleep.

Fifteen minutes goes by and in walks the technician.

Alone.

But I would have been ok even if she wasn’t.

Laying there, I was so thankful for how long I’ve been practicing this kind of self-love. Little Kerri has years of evidence of me not only comforting her, but also doing the “adulting” in our lives, whether that’s going for a job interview or handling a scary medical appointment.

It’s when you expect your younger self to handle grown-up stuff that your fear sits firmly planted in the driver’s seat of your life. Her scared thoughts needn’t make the rules. In fact, they don’t want to. Instead, they simply want to be acknowledged.

Coincidentally (or is it?), when I got home, I noticed this affirmation on my Louise Hay daily calendar:

Ain’t that the truth?

So, *|FNAME|*, what thoughts are you thinking right now that aren’t doing you any good? How can you take care of your Little One to help him or her feel safe?

I’d love to hear your take on this. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

18 replies
  1. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Wow! This (once again) filled my eyes with tears.

    First, I’m so glad that everything’s ok!!! That is a big scare, and it sounds as though you handled it beautifully. And very sweetly.

    Second, sadly, so many of us can relate.

    I’m just coming out of a two year ordeal (for lack of a better word!) of my mother battling breast cancer. (She’s ok now!! The ordeal is done). I went with her to get the results of her biopsy 2 years ago, which was bad news. It was that moment that we see in movies, but never imagine will happen for real, where you hear the oncologist say “I’m so sorry. You have cancer”. Everything freezes, momentarily. I drove her to her surgery a few months later. Then went with her for her 3 weeks of daily radiation treatment. I had to be the adult through all of it, so that she could be the freightened child. Those inner-child voices definitely surface when something as big as cancer, or the threat of cancer, comes along to scare (terrify!) us.

    A few months ago, I was sent to see an oncologist, just preventatively, to be followed, regarding a complex cyst in my ovary that I’ve had (and which has been monitored and scanned) for the past 4 years. The oncologist felt that it was to just keep monitoring that cyst, without biopsying or removing it, but she was concerned about a specific blood test which has been abnormal for the past many years (CA 125) and steadily rising. So she sent me for a CT scan of chest, pelvis and abdomen, wanting specifically to see if anything was going on with my lungs. My lungs??? I went to see her about my ovary (which I hadn’t been concerned about at all), but suddenly I was being sent to have my lungs looked at? For cancer?? (side note: my grandmother died of lung cancer). I could have panicked, but didn’t let myself. Thankfully the scan was mere days later, which didn’t give me much time for worst-case scenarios. And the follow-up appointment to get results was 2 days after the scan.

    Thankfully all is fine!!!

    I think when I’m faced with something really big, adult-me kicks in immediately. She doesn’t, in daily life. I wish she would!! But in a crisis, adult-me shoves little-me aside and says “I’ll handle this, You don’t have to. This is far too big for you”.

    Afterwards though, when I found out that everything was ok, oh boy did little-me (and adult-me) need a massive self-hug!! And a very good cry!! 🙂 I tend to fall apart after the fact, rather than during. I force myself not to ‘go there’ but once I know that all is ok, I can’t help but think of how bad it could have been. It’s as though I go through after-panic, whereas the earthquake itself, I don’t let get to me Consciously 🙂

    So ya, the dreaded C-word. Can certainly relate to that!! (I just made a note earlier today to have a mammogram scheduled for July, as I’ve been advised to do them yearly now, since breast cancer is officially ‘in the family’).

    So so many women I know are going through this. Thankfully we all have each other for support. A very good friend had a breast lump scare a few months, and she wasn’t able to calm her thoughts. She was in such a state, and panic, and nothing was working to calm her down. It’s so common and so normal!!! Thank you for writing about it.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Lisa. I’m so glad all turned out well for you, too and that your mom is ok, too.

      You’re right, so so many women are facing this battle and we are so fortunate to all have each other. And the better we can get about asking for exactly what we need in terms of support, the better off we’ll be. For instance, a friend of mine is awaiting some test results and she has specifically told me not to ask her about it. That she’ll tell me as soon as she knows. That was so helpful because now I can just be a loving container for her and not a pest!

      What a loving thing to do for yourself to allow the breakdown after. To give your little one the space she needs to cry where she had to be strong during it all. I cried with relief as well. It’s cathartic, for sure!

      Thanks again for sharing your story. <3

      Reply
  2. Lisa Johnson
    Lisa Johnson says:

    Oh I have been down that road far too many times. I’m glad all is ok. And yes I will start practicing that mantra.

    Reply
  3. Kay Wise-Denty
    Kay Wise-Denty says:

    Funny this was yesterday because a similar situation happened. We’ve had tremendous rain and flooding here in Western North Carolina this week, and I’ve been a little fearful. We live up the mountain a bit, and the rivers & streams overflowing did flood some areas in the valleys. But with the oversaturated earth sometimes trees’ roots don’t hold and they topple over. And landslides happen. And the fear tried to overwhelm me and the thought came to me “you got this, just change your mind about it.” Fearfulness isn’t going to help. Chaos and confusion in my mind doesn’t help me to think clearly. If something happens, I’ll need all my coping skills to handle it. So I did calm my mind, breathed deeply, relaxed a bit and let life take its course. We had some basement leakage, but no other issues. I think I need to pay attention and change my mind more often.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      I can imagine how easy it would have been to be scared in that situation, Kay. I’m so glad all turned out well, and a big win for you in how you practiced lovingly managing your mind. <3

      Reply
  4. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Kerri – Glad your test was benign!! Last week I had a doctor tell me he could fix my back. I was so happy and excited to think I was going to get my life back to normal again. The Doctor asked me to get X-rays done at a special imaging place and I did. Returned to the doctor office yesterday and upon viewing the set of. X-rays he said he could NOT fix my back But… would be able to help keep my back from getting worse. The mental chatter took over and I became upset and depressed. Today when I woke up – my inner voice kicked in and told me – I am going be okay – no matter what. Going to have limitations – which can be worked around. Continue doing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual work and stay positive. I have a lot to be Thankful for and truly count my Blessings. So that is what I am going to do!!

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Great perspective, Sharon! Keep your heart and mind open to possibilities and you might just find your back feeling great in no time — whether with this doctor’s help or another. You’re in charge!

      Reply
  5. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    Oh man! This hit home for me. I’m in the midst and the fear is very heavy right now! Thank you Kerri, I’m going to calm myself by speaking to the lil’ girl inside. This work is so important in my life right now!! I’m so grateful I signed up for Clear Your Clutter!! I will share more details as this unfolds. Very grateful! 🙏🏻

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Sending you lots of love, Shelly. Give your little one lots of love and attention right now. Maybe even think of some things you can do to pamper her. What would she love? To do some coloring? Get a pedicure? Dance to fun music? You can comfort her with love and fun. Know that our whole course group is holding a loving space for you. We’re with you!

      Reply
  6. Anne
    Anne says:

    I’ve been feeling left out of my best friend’s life. We’ve been so close and now she has a new partner in her life. Earlier today, I realized that it was my little kid self that was feeling hurt. Thankfully, I’ve realized that so many challenges are just opportunities to grow. ( I should be a giant by now but I still come up a little short sometimes!) For me, it’s thought and feelings that can be acknowledged and accepted but like your quote says they can be changed. Thanks Kerri for sharing your personal stories. You tell us with your self love that you have the same struggles that the rest of us have, and that makes it so much easier to really understand. Glad that you are OK. Anne

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      I laughed out loud when I read this: “I should be a giant by now but I still come up a little short sometimes!” because I can so relate! I try to remember that life is a never-ending classroom. It’d be boring if it wasn’t!

      After you’ve reassured your little one a bit, maybe you’ll feel ready to have a chat with your best friend. Let her know you miss her and that maybe you could have a bi-weekly catch-up date or something. I bet she’d like it, too!

      Reply
  7. Kit
    Kit says:

    Well I just had a visit with my cardiologist today. More tests. But I came very close to being dead in an accident almost 14 years ago, and since then, as I like to tell people, any day that I wake up above the grass and not under it is off to a good start and tomorrow has a chance to be even better! Plenty of things happen that I grumble about, don’t get me wrong, but usually I can truly say that in spite of the things that I am grumbling about, it is still a pretty good day overall. Cancer is frightening. Accidents and severe weather are frightening. Life can frequently be difficult or painful or confusing, but it can also be so beautiful that it takes your breath away! People can be petty, mean, cruel. People can also be caring, generous, helpful, loyal, creative, resourceful, brave, dedicated, and determined. Strangers come to the aid of complete strangers surprisingly often. Paying attention to what is right with the world more than I pay attention to what is wrong with the world is not always something that I can manage, but I have gotten a lot better at doing this over the last fourteen years. And I try to tell people about this realization as often as I can because I don’t ever want to forget.

    Somebody said that the easy way to tell if God has plans for your life is to check to see if you are still breathing. If you are still breathing, then you have not yet finished doing what God has planned for you. A secular humanist might say that you have not yet lived up to your potential, or not yet finished your life work.

    Very few of us get out of the world alive, and dying is often extremely difficult, frightening, and painful, but it is usually a very small part of a relatively long life. So it should be possible to choose to focus more on living fully and well most of the time.

    Maybe a good question to ask about “stuff” is, “Will my life be fuller, richer, or more meaningful if I keep this or if I do something else?” “Too much stuff” does make life harder and less vibrant, regardless of whether the stuff is potentially useful, attractive, or personally meaningful. So does too little stuff, or the wrong stuff. Beyond the first level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is probably pretty difficult to anticipate what will enrich the life of anybody except your closest friends. Even with basics like food and shelter, both tastes and needs vary. One person eats meat, another is vegan. One person has food allergies, another can eat anything. One person is incredibly active and hardworking and stays lean on over 6000 calories a day, another requires and is happy on less than 2000 calories a day.

    But each of us can learn most of the answers about what works best for ourselves. Many of us can learn a lot about what works best for those closest to us in some key areas but sharing resources and living space requires a lot of diplomacy and compromise and is hard even when everybody is willing to work at it, and yet most books on clutter deal with it as if each household had only one decision-maker. Have you considered writing a book about negotiating about clutter?

    Reply
    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      Such a wonderful and positive and uplifting comment, Kit! And such a fantastic attitude.

      I love that you added the bit about a secular outlook, because I often think that people who have a firm belief in God are so lucky in many ways, as they can put their faith in God. I like the idea of my purpose on this planet not yet being complete. Far from it!

      Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Kit. You raise a lot of great points and powerful perspectives. Tastes and needs sure do vary from person to person, you’re right. I often get asked by people how to handle the clutter that’s in their way of living the life they want when the clutter isn’t theirs to begin with. It’s certainly blog-post worthy to start. I shall add it to my idea list!

      Reply

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