#SeptemberSeries Part 3/4: Three Cognitive Hacks So You Can Handle (Almost) ANYTHING
An anonymous quote: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Did you know there is a better way to handle stress than how you currently are handling it? Feel free to prove me wrong, but I know for a fact that 100% of us are humans (unless you’re an alien reading this- now I’m a little creeped) and that we make mistakes. We can have the best meditation practice; however, if we are failing to deal with problems in real time efficiently because we have one too many short fuses, then we need to re-evaluate ourselves. If you haven’t joined us yet for the September Series, it’s not too late!! You can join now and still get all the previous September goodies in your inbox and you’ll be totally caught up.
You deal with having to put out 1,000 fires at work and do so as graciously as possible, only to come home and just blow up when your partner asks you what’s for dinner tonight. Can ya feel me? Or maybe there is tension at work and you’re short with your team because you’ve had it. Whatever it may be, patterns can emerge and these behaviors can become part of our “norm.” Sometimes we have to get absolutely real with ourselves, take a step back, and ask “Is this how I want to show up? Am I using the excuse of being stressed to be nasty or dismissive towards others?”
Here are short yet powerful reminders of what it is that you must cultivate in order to stop the emotional hijacking going on by your lovely, good ol’ amygdala and be your most lit up self. These tips don’t mean that you will never have an imperfect reaction again, just like learning all the steps to a choreography doesn’t mean you will perform those steps perfectly at a performance. However, the more practice and awareness, the better and stronger your “mind muscles” become. Salud to that!
1. Let your feelings guide you
“Feelings aren’t good or bad. Feelings aren’t facts.” – Whitney Goodman, LMFT based in Miami and founder of the The Collaborative Counseling Center. They are just that, feelings. Feelings should not be suppressed. Telling anyone that showing feelings is a sign of weakness, telling boys to “man up,” etc. harms our mind and leads us to feel that our feelings are a) irrelevant b) shameful and c) useless information to others. I’m not saying go around town and parade your feelings for all to see. What I’m saying is that let your feelings guide you and play detective. Imagine that feelings are like clouds passing as you lay in grass, watching them pass you by. They come and go, and often times they clue you into the bigger picture.It’s helpful to ask yourself in what way do your feelings help you to survive? How are your feelings guiding you to solve a problem? Understanding the role of your feelings allow you to dig deeper and ask the questions that will help you to understand the role of feelings and accomplish your goals.
2. Pause before responding to situations
Once you’ve felt your feelings (all up in my feels- that’s a song right? #IMOLD) clarify both the physiological answer (e.g., “My shoulders feel tight”) and the emotional answer (e.g., “I feel nervous”). Then, consider why you feel that way. Before responding to a stressful situation (work examples), pausing for just a few seconds can often help you gain control over your emotions before you say or do something you might later regret. Imagine you can hit a huge red pause button every time you catch yourself about to go off on someone or just lose your shit. As you pause, simply take a deep breath. Instead, learn to center yourself by simply taking three belly breaths between patients, during a meeting, or before dictating notes/completing documentation. A big one that I shall put in all caps: SEE THINGS FOR WHAT THEY ARE. Cultivating your curiosity about a situation is one of the best strategies for building empathy for yourself and others. Being curious and pausing before you jump to conclusions and react allows you to gain a clearer understanding of the other person’s perspective.
3. Begin and end your day well with what works with you
I can tell you how awesome meditation is, how you must eat kale on the daily, and how you absolutely have to do yoga. But I’m not. You are a unique, wonderful individual and what works for me may not work for you. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try something new. I give you permission to play with your self-care routine all you like! But if you know running isn’t for you but that’s the type of self-care all your co-workers engage in, don’t do it. By beginning and ending your day with your own individualized well plan, you are honoring your soul. You gotta nourish your soul my friend! Creating moments, especially at the beginning and end of your day, get you in a flow. I do believe that embedding mindfulness in whatever practice you do is a nice and beneficial little bonus that will spill over into other areas of your life for the better.
See you inside the #SeptemberSeries where you can get your freebie on this topic with the one must have tool that has literally saved my butt when I’ve been so deep in anxious moments. Disclaimer: this isn’t a cure for anxiety, just a little tool in my toolkit that has lessened the intensity of my physiological response and brought some peace and clarity during my mild anxiety episodes.