I mentioned recently how helpful self-compassion can be when we experience uncomfortable feelings. It occurred to me that this is somewhat akin to having a tired, cranky child in the back seat when we’re taking a long road trip.
Let’s say that you’re feeling fearful about an important project at work. You find yourself mulling over various aspects of the job at all hours — at three in the morning, during your commute home, while eating dinner with your family. Instead of being emotionally present, your mind chatters away, “Maybe I should go over that budget one more time”, “Did I get that order right?”, etc. It can feel maddening, and yet the harder you try to quiet the thoughts, the louder they become.
So, to use the child in the car analogy, how about accepting that such thoughts are along for the ride, that given your dedication to your job they’re understandable, and that in time you’ll get to your destination and that then they can take a “nap”? After all, yelling at a worn-out child isn’t likely to quiet them down or make anyone feel better. Demonstrating that you understand how they feel but also that you’re going to continue the journey and go the distance is much more likely to calm them (and you) down.