by Aby Aaliyah
On Tuesday morning, I felt a gripping discomfort in my chest during my morning team meeting. Almost immediately my mind recognized it as a familiar foe from the past – anxiety. A feeling of irritation mixed with panic set in as anxiety tenaciously slithered into my presentation, affecting my tone and delivery style. In the instance, I remember my colleagues’ confused yet curious and non-judgmental faces staring back in kind wonderment. Thankfully, I was able to tame it sufficiently to complete my talk. And after the meeting ended, I too became compassionately curious about the nature of my anxious feelings and their source.
Like most workdays, my morning meetings are usually followed by visits with clients in the community. It is during the commute that I often spend time to check emails, respond to messages, browse the net, make phone calls, or grab a caffeine kick. But this morning was different. No messages were checked nor calls made. Internet browsing and surfing of social media was put on hold. As for the coffee, I figured the last thing I needed was a stimulant for anxious feelings.
By distancing myself from all external stimuli, I made the conscious decision to take care of me – my inner child. With kind intention, I chose to bring myself to him. And in the depth of this moment, this being alone with myself, that I realized how barren and uncared for he was.
It’s essential to take time out for you to reflect on your inner state
As I began meditating myself inwards, I was horrified by the amount of pain and suffering I had internalized from the world. I closed my eyes and watched oppression, extremism, racism, and xenophobia. I saw plane crashes. I witnessed assassinations. I looked at kids and their parents, under the rubble and lying on streets. I watched leadership trumped by arrogance and privilege. And I cried at powerful humility – the Abdul Sattar Eidhis and Junaid Jamsheds – passing away.
In this vast moment, the trauma the external world had imprinted on me became evident. And with this newfound awareness, I started to console my inner child. I sought forgiveness for scarring it. For exposing it to trauma that it did not need to see or hear. I apologized for leaving it out of focus for such a long time, busy with what was out there. Most importantly, I promised it that I would come back again and again to visit to make sure it was safe and cared for.
At this juncture, I reflected on the importance of looking inwards. I remembered that often our external world hooks and reel us into itself deeply. Our relationships, careers, family, friends, news, internet and others have conditioned our attention to keep the focus outside of us; that is, on them. At these times, moments of pain or discomfort are essential to reorient us – to bring us back to ourselves (click to tweet). Acting as blessings in disguise, they force us to momentarily disconnect from the external in order to care for ourselves and internal.
Check yourself first (Photo credit: Wiki Commons)
I often like using the in-flight oxygen mask analogy. During an airplane’s in-flight safety tutorial, we are reminded that if the cabin pressure drops, we should put oxygen masks on ourselves before assisting others. Over the past months, I had done the opposite. In doing so, my inner child was suffocating. No wonder I felt anxious.
Some days remind you to introspect and to care for your inner world. Tuesday was one these blessed days for me.
With all that’s going on in the world now, how is your inner child responding to everything?