One of the most tough to swallow pieces of life in the time of Covid is that we don’t know what’ going to happen. We can’t control the outcome. Heck, we can’t even make plans. This is so hard, especially for those of us who like to drive the bus. Really, we NEVER knew what was going to happen, we VERY rarely can control an outcome—this crisis only underscored what was already true but we had kind of forgotten. The opportunity it presents is that we are getting a fabulous opportunity to learn how to roll with it. To keep our wits about us when things are constantly changing. To be OK even when things feel very not OK. This, of course, is something that will serve us well for the rest of our lives. So let’s embrace it.
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The Truth is, We are All on A Bit of A Nantucket Sleigh Ride Right About Now
Even though I’m a history buff and a native New Englander, I’d never even heard that term until a great therapist I had the good luck to work with introduced me to it. It refers to those periods of time in your life when you’re getting taken on a wild ride and all you can do is hold on until it slows down.
In the 1800s Nantucket was a capitol of the whaling industry. All these big boats would head out to sea, loaded with men armed with spears and de-blubbering knives charged with turning whales into whale oil, which is what we burned for light back in those days. But you don’t kill a whale from a nice big boat. You get into a small wooden dinghy and row right up next to the whale and plunge a spear that’s tied to the dinghy with a long rope into its back. After you spear the whale, it takes off swimming as fast as it can to try and get away from you (and who can blame it?), and all you can do is hold on to the sides of the dinghy for dear life until the whale finally dies and you come to a stop.
And that high-speed, death-gripped, exhilarating ride across the ocean is called a Nantucket sleigh ride. (As soon as the therapist explained what it was, I thought, “Why yes, I’ve been on a few of those in my lifetime.” Haven’t we all?) We are on one right now.
There Are A Few Keys To Surviving
…And not being traumatized—a nantucket sleigh ride. You’ve got to hold on, yes, You’ve got to remind yourself that it won’t last forever. And you’ve got to stay loose and roll with it. It’s like if you’re in a car accident or falling off a horse, the looser limbed you can be the less likely you’ll be seriously injured. It’s the staying loose part I want you to think about today.
Since our nantucket sleigh ride is happening in our mind, and not in a boat in the ocean, the place you’re going to have to stay loose is in your mind. And that means you’re going ot have to interrupt your rigid thinking when it crops up — and it will, by thinking things like, this 100% sucks, or things will always be this way, or I’ll never do this or that. So the first step, as per usual, is noticing that it’s happened. And then you want to ask yourself something that opens up possibilities and gets you think a little more objectively, and a little less black-and-white-y.
Roll With It- Ask yourself something like:
What else is possible here?
What really matters right now?
Could I learn something in this moment?
What does my gut say?
What is a more constructive approach?
If you don’t ask, it’s way less likely to dawn on your that there’s another way to think about things.
Being able to roll with things, and whaling, for that matter, both require you to trust in life itself–to at least entertain the idea that life is happening for you, and not to you. It’s not something that generally happens quickly, it’s a relationship that builds over time. But guess what–intense times are great at making relationships closer. So, why not roll with it, and actively try to accept what life is handing you instead of trying to control it or reject it?
Daily Tiny Assignment
The fact is, sometimes you’re NOT going to want to roll with it. You’re going to want to have yourself a proper tantrum. Here is something to do in those times. It’s an exercise I call Let It Out. If you’ve been to yoga class, you’ll also recognize it as lion pose. I’ve taught yoga to preschoolers the past several summers at my kids’ old preschool, and let me tell you, this one is a BIG hit with three and four year olds. But you know what? It’s just as powerful for grown-up.
You’re gonna want some privacy for this one. So when you’re sitting in an empty room (or even your car), sit up tall. Clench your fists, squeeze your eyes shut, and tighten all the muscles in your face. Then open your eyes and mouth wide, splay your fingers, and stick out your tongue and exhale with a loud whisper sound—like a lion with laryngitis.
This move drains tension out of the body, expels anger, and gives your frustration a voice, all without lashing out at someone and potentially making the upset worse.
If you do it, come drop a lion gif on my feed on Twitter or Facebook, or post a video of you doing to your Instagram story and tag me. I’m telling you, getting stuff off your chest and clearing out your throat really helps!!!
Calm The Eff Down
If you missed it, for the three weeks before this I ran a 21-day Calm the Eff Down challenge, to help us all deal with the pandemic without losing our minds. You can go back to episode 170 and listen to it. AND. OR. You can download the mini e-book that i put together that maps out all 21 days.