I'm willing to bet you've learned. I'm willing to bet that you've put your time into learning in various forms:
devouring Instagram posts
exchanging information in Facebook groups
reading books on mental health
buying video courses
And surely more I'm not thinking of right now (comment and let me know what I missed). I'm willing to bet you're put the time in.
YOU'VE LEARNED TOO MUCH
And I may even be willing to bet that you've put in more than enough time.
Of course I don't know the right amount of time, especially for you and your wonderful nervous system. No idea. But you might be able to tell when you've learned enough to act on and when you've gone too far. It's easy to miss. Especially because you're probably learning a lot through social media and their algorithms have a tendency to keep you scrolling mindlessly.
And I think that's the key, as always, is the mindfulness part of it. When you're learning, are you mindful and conscious of what you're taking in and when it's time to practice it? Are you asking yourself if something will be helpful for you or not?
You might be taking in information and then judging yourself. Seeing how some technique or whatever is so beneficial to someone and then doubting it will be on yourself. That you can't obtain what that other person is doing. That somehow you can't be successful.
You may not be noticing what's happening within you while you're learning. Like what was the last piece of information that you learned about that you felt legitimately excited about? That you felt some hope in? If you pay attention, you might feel a pull toward some piece of wellness information that your body feels hopeful about.
ACT ON YOUR HOPE
When you feel that positivity and excitement and interest, did you take an action to use what you learned? I call those things that our nervous system lights up about and sees an avenue for change in "hope."
It's like our gut and our chest say "yes" to some things and dismisses others. We want to listen to the things that light us up and move on from the other things. Of course the other things may be helpful at some point, but maybe not right here and right now. Listening to my podcast might feel like a "yes" and fill in some knowledge gaps that you have, so you keep listening. But my course might feel like a "no" for you right now for whatever reason. But it might become relevant for you later on and you might feel some curiosity about it.
I think of it as taking one step forward or maybe peeling back one layer of an onion. We all have multiple layers of change to us. The first layer we peel away might be brought on by something very different than the 18th layer. Deep breathing could be your first step and dance might be your 18th. I don't know. But your body does and you need to mindfully listen.
It will feel like hope. Or curiosity. Or excitement.
JUST F**KING DO
We have to take that step forward though. Learning and learning and learning may not be helpful. Although it might feel helpful to learn something new or make a new connection or gain a new insight. But the clarity gained from learning may not translate to the blossoming that is felt from actually climbing your polyvagal ladder (too many metaphors?).
I just don't know how else to say this. Change doesn't happen from continuous learning. If it did, I don't think you'd be stuck where you're stuck. You've learned enough by now, right? And if not and you're just starting to learn, welcome to my blog. Thanks for starting here. :)
LEARN FROM DOING
Doing or attempting to do is an opportunity to learn. When you do something, when you act on what you're learning, you're allowing yourself the opportunity to gain new information. You will learn what you do or do notA like. You will learn what is a clear yes and a clear no and maybe even a maybe later.
After you attempt something new, like meditating or a new deep breathing technique or some sort of artistic expression - evaluate the effectiveness of what you experienced. First, you have to actually experience what you're doing. If you're meditating for the first time, really look inward and see if you feel some hope there or not. Something you're willing to come back to.
You can rate your comfort level with what you're doing. You can rate your level of hope in what you're doing. You can keep a short running list of things that "work" for you. I'd recommend asking yourself what you think will bring you to the present moment (what I call a Safety Anchor) and what actually does bring you to the present moment.
After you've learned and discovered some techniques that you would like to return to, practice them daily. I don't think this needs to be anything intensive, but it should be a deliberate effort to build a new routine involving grounding yourself in the present moment.
Use that breathing technique that felt right to you. Pick a time that works for your schedule. Allow yourself to feel some of that ventral vagal safety every day. The more you do, the easier it will be to access.
Do what you can tolerate and then build. I believe some things will be good for micro doses of safety and other things will be better for a heavier access to your safety system. Micro doses are great and can be built upon, but keep an eye out for other things as you build your capacity to tolerate them.
LEARN ABOUT SOMETHING NEW
Okay, you've discovered something you felt hope in. You tried it out and you want to do more. Then you did some daily practice. The next step is to ask yourself if it's time for something different or to alter what you're already doing. It might be time to get to that second layer of change. I've only described the first layer! As your vagal brake increases its strength to tolerate what you're already doing, you'll need to exercise it further.
And that means more learning and repeating this process! Start from scratch, assume you know nothing and begin the search for what might help your nervous system to continue to blossom. Notice what or who you feel some hope and curiosity in.
This is actually how I designed my Building Safety Anchors course. It's 30 days of structured learning and practicing! Small doses each day to not overwhelm participants.