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Physically smiling in the face of stress

I’d heard the process of writing a book was a rollercoaster. I was warned.

And then I wrote a book. There was no rollercoaster. At least, not in the process of writing it.

But now that I’m coming to the pointy end of this almost decade-long project, the sounds of the rollercoaster tracking upward and upward, cog by cog, are building a whole lot of anticipation. The feeling of that jerking climb... strapped in, can’t get out, no return. My nerves are unsettled.

I wasn’t expecting to feel this way. It took me a moment of reflection to consciously acknowledge that this is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. Writing was cathartic, enjoyable and enlightening. But during the whole duration of writing, nobody else read it other than me. Soon though, I will be announcing the release of my memoir. A wholly vulnerable version of myself, released. Out into the wild. No protection. Open to judgement, criticism, misunderstanding, ridicule, love, and hatred.

I realised that I’m scared about being so exposed like I never have been before.

So, yesterday, after a tantrum about my Amazon author account being deactivated without anyone at Amazon able to explain or assist, I took myself into the bathroom, closed the door, and I smiled. It was a big, genuine smile. I let it come from deep within.

As soon as I smiled, I instantaneously felt a rush of excitement that I’m about to publish my book. I did it. I’m doing it. This is real and I’m thrilled to be feeling every part of this wild, wild rush of emotions. This is fricking exciting.

I came out of the bathroom, sat at my computer, thought about Amazon and started swearing again.

Then I smiled, and I felt all the excitement, achievement, gratitude, and grace.

It was a fascinating experience. I made no effort to change my thoughts or attitude in that moment. It was changing my physical state that created a spontaneous shift in my mental state in order to match the corresponding physiology.

When my body smiled, my mind followed suit.

I feel like I bang on about this a lot that no emotion occurs in isolation. Every emotion is on a spectrum and will always be present with its equal and complimentary opposite. As much as I have been absolutely freaking out, feeling all the fear about “what’s next”, the same degree of pure excitement, grace and love for this whole project was there all along in all its glory. And all I needed to do to feel it was to smile.

When you find something that works, share it, right? May you find this helpful when you need it most.

With much love...

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