Perhaps you feel kind of sad, but you know you're still fit for work, and while you may have to make some tough calls along the way, it won't be too long before you busy yourself with a new job. The previous two paragraphs were the exact same sequence of events, but through two different lenses; Can you see yourself in a different future? I can't even imagine the end of this week, she replied. Well, try, I urged. Try to see yourself in a different future. One where you aren't scared about making rent. One where you feel like you have some power over your situation. The line went silent for a while, a deep, dead silence. I let it hang there, giving Tara space. It had been a long time since someone had given her the permission and the platform to imagine a future different from the panicked present she found herself in. She sighed. Of course, life isn't lived that way, and the plans go awry or get curtailed, and sometimes we change our minds; The boundaries we create protect our identity and make room for all that's important to us. There's stuff we instinctually know to be true for ourselves that forms the building blocks of our identity and underpins how we relate to the world around us. For example, if we've tried olives, we'll know whether we love or hate them. We might have a favorite color, a favorite smell, a list of favorite and not-so-favorite foods, and there might be a place we've been to where we felt oh so at peace. There will be certain things that make us laugh and certain things that make us cry. We might identify as being an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert. At school, we may have adored PE but abhorred science.

There will be people we're drawn to and those we have an inexplicable not-so-nice reaction to in our gut. There will be social causes that we respond to more than others. Could you feel yourself drowning in the first one? Could you feel the enduring motivation in the second? This is the power of perspective. This is the power of framing. Even the act of seeing layoffs as an improvised vacation is an act of humor that, while not likely to get a laugh from you, at least helps you blunt the edge as you process things. What if you need a little extra help recentering your viewpoint now? If a friend isn't on hand to laugh through things with you, you can alternatively try. Tree Visualization At any point in time, place your feet so that they're a bit more than a pelvis-width apart. If you're physically able to stand, do so, but don't fret if you can't. If I'm honest, I think I want to go back to school. That's where I made my big mistake, where I derailed myself. I know all the reasons why I did it. I panicked. It's the gift of being bipolar: I'm the maestro of panic. I won't bore you with the details. I knew many of the details. So yeah, I want to go back to school.

But I'm so broke now, I could never get back to Ames, and I really don't want to live in Iowa anymore. I'm staying in Virginia. Horror films might scare us witless, and rom-coms might be our bag. The opposite of some of these examples may be true for you. We're the beholders of a wealth of conscious and subconscious information that only we're privy to; Only we will know when a person, situation, or circumstance conjures up an inward groan or butterflies of excitement, a heavy heart or a skip in our step, that awkward feeling or a sense of pure comfort. An indicator that our boundaries need some work is when our belonging needs feel at odds with our esteem needs. It's the holding true to ourselves and honoring of who we are--and who we want to be--that can get a little tricky when you add other people into the mix. As a social species we yearn for a sense of belonging, connection, and intimacy with others--according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, these are our psychological needs. As well as a need for all of that, we also have esteem needs: a need to feel self-respect and be respected by others, to feel a sense of achievement, that we're good at things, and to have recognition and self-esteem. An indicator that our boundaries need some work is when our belonging needs feel at odds with our esteem needs, or when neither are being met. Authenticity has become one of those words that's trotted out in marketing campaigns galore, and along the way it's lost its meaning. Just keep your back as upright as it can be. Close your eyes, and imagine your body as a mighty tree, your chest and stomach forming the trunk, your pelvis and legs forming the roots. Focus on your breath as you would in meditation, then move your focus to the sensations in the core of your body. Move your focus down from your core, lower and lower, down to your feet if you can, feeling the sensations along your lower body as you do. Notice the surface supporting your lower body. Feel the stability and firmness of your form. Normally, when we feel stressed or overwhelmed, our mind tends to scatter. But when you visualize yourself in this way, you are no longer scattered.

You are no longer diffused. You are no longer stretched thin. Again, I won't bore you, she said, starting to spiral again. It's just impossible. It's not impossible, I replied. You did it once before and you can do it again. But how can I afford it if I can't even make the rent? We aren't talking about your present right now, I answered. I understand that your situation is bleak. But go with me for just a few minutes. I won't make this long. You have more control than you think. When we don't assert or honor who we are, we lose our meaning, too. The essence of who we are becomes lost as we bend, mesh, toe the line, and be who we think we need to be for other people. And we feel that lack of truthfulness with every inch of our being--it's tiresome to keep arranging ourselves to be more agreeable for others. We end up not saying what we mean or meaning what we say. We iron out the kinks and quirks to pave the way for a quieter day, to make life easier and OK for every Tom, Dick, and Harry, Brenda, Philippa, and Barry. Whose Choice Are We Making? Every day is rife with choices and decisions; Some of those decisions we'll avoid making, others we'll deliberate over and over.

There'll be those we'll make impulsively, and some where we'll make the decision to people-please and comply with what seems to be the popular option. These ongoing decision-making processes compound one another. You simply are, with nothing else attached except the ground beneath you. The Rule of Fives This one can also be done at any time, and is perfect for pulling your mind away from the tide of abstract stresses to simply sit in the reality of your body. First, take a moment to recall your five senses: taste, hearing, sound, touch, and sight. Next, list five sensations that each one is perceiving; Aim for as much diversity as you can in what you're sensing, as this is what grounds you back in your body. For that, simply take five swigs of water, paying careful attention to the cool sensation on your tongue, and how it shifts with each successive swig; The rule of fives is a great excuse for you to rehydrate yourself as you pull your thoughts back together. Wild Horses (Can't Drag You Away) As each emotion rises up within you, visualize it as a very confused horse. You will build your future. Okay, I'll play along, she agreed. Where do you want to go to school and what do you want to study? Honestly, I don't care where I go, Tara answered. Just being able to go. And I'd like to finish my degree in physical therapy. I do miss that. Great, I continued.