9 Grounding Practices For When You Feel Anxious and Not Enough When You Start Dating Someone You Like.
I remember when I was 15 years old I fell in love with a boy named Tony. Tony was 18 and didn't go to my high school, or any school for that matter. He always wore a black leather motorcycle jacket over a white ‘wife beater’ (why the f*ck were they named that?) and blue jeans. He played guitar.
I met him at this legend of a pizza place on the Upper West Side of Manhattan called “Mama’s Pizza” during my lunch break. I was in the 9th grade. He walked up to my table, smiled at me, and placed a small scrap of paper next to my oily piece of pizza. Then he walked away. I picked it up and read: “Tony” (then his number).
Pretty good game for an 18 year old.
Naturally I called that number and the following week he picked me up at my school so we could hang out. I’ll never forget when he walked up to me while surrounded by what felt like the entire high school. He wore: leather jacket, wife beater, jeans, boots. He certainly did not look like any of the boys in my high school, and everyone noticed it. As he approached me, he flashed a huge smile, and gave me a big hug. I could feel the pierce of every teenage girl’s envy stab me in the back as I embraced him.
On Planet Teenager, an older guy wearing a leather motorcycle jacket over a white wife beater with blue jeans and boots who comes to pick up your inexperienced 9th grade ass after school is a REALLY BIG DEAL.
What ensued was typical. Young love. Underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, amygdala dependent, irrational, horny, lusty, grandiose, stupid young love. The moment T dropped the scrap of paper next to my oily pizza was the moment I lost my marbles. Constant daydreaming, wondering what he was thinking, feeling and doing all the time. Giddy. Excited and excitable. Intense. Distracted. Stressed. Ungrounded. I pretty much had an elevated heart rate for our entire 6 month relationship. My poor mom - of course she didn't know the full scope of how much we were hanging out, but she did her best to keep both my feet on the ground - reminding me daily that “he craps just like everyone else”, and that I “won’t even remember his name come next year”.
Thank God this was the time before cell phones and social media.
The T romance ended that summer.
Tony was my first love, and at 15, none of us know who we are, what we are, or why we are. At 15, we all lose our marbles at the mere thought of love. But If I’m honest, versions of my teenage self were triggered back into existence every time I fell for some guy over the many, many years that followed. Even with a fully developed prefrontal cortex. And to this day, I witness many women lose their shit a little when they meet someone they like.
Some symptoms of this are:
Feelings of not being enough
Overly excited/feelings of out of body euphoria
Obsessive phone checking
inability to concentrate
lack of sleep
loss of appetite
Over analyzing yours and the others behavior
reading into everything
Generally, it feels like this person who you barely know has hijacked your nervous system.
The paradox is that there is something quite sweet about being able to still get butterflies like a little 15 year old as a full grown, mature adult. Especially if you’re excited about someone new for the first time, in a long time. The flutter in our bellies is a rather pleasant reminder that we still have a beating pulse - that we are very much alive: raw, vulnerable, and thirsty for passion. Enjoy that feeling. Lean into it, align your breath with it’s rhythm.
But keep it in check.
And you’ll know when it’s gone too far - you won’t feel right. You’ll feel the lowered self worth that both precipitates and results in giving too much power to a person you don't know and who could also be very wrong for you.
Cloud 9 is fun until it robs you of your sanity.
And there may be work for you to do. In fact, there probably is. The kind of emotional labor that forces you to look at your childhood, your parents, and your environment. You may have to heal traumas, dismantle old beliefs, and change the way you date and approach relationship.
Here are 9 powerful grounding practices for when you feel anxious, in the clouds, or not enough after a great date:
Breathe. Sounds trite but it’s ESSENTIAL. Anxiety is fight or flight which charges your nervous system which then leads to more anxious thoughts. It’s a vicious cycle. Breathe, and focus on lengthening your exhale.
Journal. Get out pen and paper and write down all your projections. All the childlike fantasies you have that you are placing on to this individual. This individual who you barely know. It helps to see it all on paper because it’ll give you perspective.
Hang out with your friends. When you spend time with your besties, you’re reinforcing the fact that you have your own, worthy life to your subconscious.
Ask your closest friends to hold you accountable: Your dearest friends want what is best for you, and they see the absolute beauty in you that you may be failing to see in yourself. Ask them to help you keep it real.
Redirect your focus on what's important to you: Be it your work, a project, or whatever - stay close to what matters to you. The more you feel connected to what lights you up, the better. This reminds you again that you have a worthy, exciting and important life that someone has to be invited IN TO.
Move your body: The fastest way to get out of your head is to do something with your body that makes it impossible to think about anything else other than the task at hand. You decide what that is based on your physical capability.
Remind yourself, often, that you do NOT know this person, so it is actually impossible to know if he or she is the right person for you yet: We are very complex beings, and it takes time to decipher if someone is truly a match.
Put a limit on how much you check your phone. Give yourself a rule.
Put a cap on the daydreaming. Interrupt it by shifting your focus onto the present. Notice your surroundings in a whole new light. We miss so much every single moment of every single day. Practicing this level of presence is incredibly grounding.
To be clear, I do not suggest that you numb yourself out with a bunch of self controlled stoicism that closes your heart. Allow yourself to truly feel. Experience the wonder and the exhilarating rushes of dopamine coarse through your nerves. Notice, without judgement, the complexity of your trepidation mixed in with your excitement by the possibility of loving again. Let yourself feel like the 15 year old that remains in many ways immortal within your soul.
Just don't let it suck the life out of you. You deserve way more than that.
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