Alphabet Series - B is for Beginning
I have gotten a lot (well, some) positive comments about the Alphabet Series so I am going to carry on. I am going to see if I can make it through the alphabet once and then I can either start back up or branch off.The other morning I woke up way too early and had trouble going back to sleep, so I worked my way through the alphabet. I had thoughts about beginnings, curiosity, devotion, empathy, fatigue and gratitude before I started to drift off, but figured there were enough words there to jump start my posts. So I am going to think of a word for each letter of the alphabet and write something about it.
As I lay in bed thinking about possible B’s to write I about I thought about an anxiety-reducing activity that I have shared with many a client. Often when people get anxious they start to obsess over something. It is almost as if a thought has invaded your head and you can’t get it out. You try to distract yourself, maybe get up and move to a different spot or do some deep breathing exercise, but the thoughts keep pounding away.
What I suggest to clients is to sit down and look around your space at the various objects that you see. Let’s say there is a sofa, a table, lamp, books, TV or any number of objects. Each of those things has its own storied connection to you. The time you spilled your food on the sofa, the water stain on the table, the store where you bought the lamp, the book you read and that show you watched on the TV that was a complete waste of time. You may have forgotten some of the stories and others don't have much of a tale to tell. Or so it may seem. I tell my clients to look at each object individually and think of a story related to it. It might be something directly out of their experience or maybe something they saw in a movie or on the street or maybe the object has no clear relationship to you. You can skip over it or just allow yourself to free associate the thoughts and images that come to you when you look at the object. I suggest they go around the room and take time to connect with those things in their immediate surroundings. Usually that helps reduce their anxiety and gets them into the moment. Plus, it helps connect them to their life in a way they might not quite do without the prompting.
I do a similar exercise with my students. I mostly teach high school seniors who are about to leave their friends and family and head off for new beginnings. Most of them have not had to make new friends from scratch for some time, so I conduct this exercise with them. I break them up in twos and tell them I am going to say a word and then I want each of them to tell their partner a story about themselves and the word. I usually start with Pizza as that seems to be something we all have had cross our path. I go on to parental advice, best day of their life, worst date and dream vacation. What I want them to learn is whether something is or isn't directly in your life, there is usually a story you can associate with most things. When making new friends it helps to be able to connect on areas of mutual interest. Having a story of one kind or another is usually an effective way of creating connections.
I mention these exercises to let you know that when I go through the alphabet and share my own stories, I imagine you have your own as well. A may have been for Annoy for me and maybe you have your own story about being annoying or annoyed, but you also might have your own stories about anchovies, adversaries or alcohol. B might be for beginnings but it could also be about bullies, baseball, bargains and the host of other B words. As I write my way through the alphabet so too might you want to spend some time reflecting on words that have meaning for you. I think you may find, as I am finding, that you have quite a rich relationship with the alphabet. And we are just at the beginning.