Imagine, if you will, this scenario. You receive a text or message from someone that expressed that they did not like something that you did or did not do. What they are questioning is nothing major, they are just letting you know that they are not 100% pleased with something.
Ouch, this hurts. Your heart starts pounding, and feelings are starting to arise. A dialogue starts to play out in your mind of what you want to say. You mull over a way to respond that is going to smooth it over without adding more to the situation; but you also are feeling the need to defend yourself. Unfortunately, that could likely make something even worse. You flip back and forth between what you could have done wrong, to what this person is doing wrong in sending you this message. You need to talk to someone, tell someone what the heck is going on here and how you are feeling. That is, if you can even really pin point what those feelings are.
Crazy how this works. A simple comment about a situation now feels so big, and an expression of dislike in you, rather than a remark about a situation you were a part of. Have you ever had something like this happen? Have you ever had a very minor remark throw you into an extreme reaction? You find yourself reacting more than the situation actually calls for. Maybe, you cannot even put words to what you are feeling; but something does not feel right or good. Left unchecked, it can ruin your day or cause you to go into a spiral of feelings that really are over exaggerated or unwarranted by such a minor remark. Yet, you cannot shake it or brush it off. You find yourself needing to tell someone, anyone, what just happened. Why? What is going on? How can such a simple comment or remark send you into this fury?
There is an answer. There is something that you can do to stop these unpleasant reactions to situations you cannot control. It requires that you learn to observe what you are thinking, feeling and doing. When you follow these simple steps, you can get infinite insight that will save you from reacting to situations in this undesirable way.
When you find yourself in a situation like this, you can change how it is making you feel. In fact, you can gain insight that will help you recreate how you think and feel so you no longer react in this way. Here is a glimpse into the self-inquiry, meditative, and mindful exercise I use to help me work through these situations.
Stop, breath, and hold the thoughts within you. Notice where in your body you feel them: your belly, diaphragm, heart, or perhaps your throat, back or knees. Become aware of what is happening as you take these thoughts in your head and feel them inside of you. To help you focus on this with greater awareness, you can use a Gendlin Focusing Technique. In simple terms, you envision the thought by noticing where in the body you feel it, you imagine it to be a shape, color and temperature. Then notice what it feels like physically. The more you are focused and aware of the thought in this way, you can tap into the emotion that is also within. What other thoughts arise? How does this make you feel? Often, a past memory or another situation will pop into your mind. If there are more emotions, allow yourself to feel them.
With each awareness you are becoming mindful of, more thoughts, feelings and questions may arise. This is good! Keep doing this. Keep being aware in this way until you reach the end. The end is the point when you cannot go any further with the feelings or thoughts. When you ask yourself “how does that make you feel”, and the answer just keeps coming back the same. It can take more than one attempt, but with practice, you will find that you get there very quickly. The end is, in fact, the beginning, the place where all of this is rooted. Usually, something in the past. Usually, associated with a whole slew of other times this same pattern repeated.
This inquiry can lead you to the pattern that is creating how you feel today because of this persons remark. The pattern now leads you to the belief. What have you come to believe about all of this? There are an infinite number of possible beliefs; common ones are that you are not safe, not loved, alone, unworthy or a failure. None of these beliefs are ever true.
Once you get to the root in this way, it is now a choice about what you choose to believe. Any of those beliefs above will keep you feeling small and fearful. It is time to create a new belief. Find something, no matter how small, to defend the case for an opposing, better feeling thought.
Find thoughts that can help you to believe you are safe, loved, worthy or successful. It really is a choice. Focus on ways these feelings are already presenting in your life. Perhaps your mind will argue that there is nothing good or that your belief is in fact 100% true. In this case, let yourself have a couple of negative thoughts that are in line with this belief; but also find three positive ways to see this same situation. If you cannot find something positive then consider a lesson you have learned as a result of this. There are always more than one way to see things. There are always both positive and negative sides to every view. Yin/Yang, Black/White, and Glass half empty/Glass half full. The side you view is your choice. You may have to work at finding the more helpful perspective; but you can do it if you choose.
This is empowerment. This is creation. This creative force comes from within. You can change the way you think and feel. When you change the way you think and feel, you can create a new belief. Your beliefs are the creative force that manifest the experiences you have. It was the belief that was triggered by the comment in our scenario. Change that belief and you change how you respond to it. Reframe this belief using affirmations and visualization, for at least 3 weeks, and you can make long term changes in your life.
Keep being mindful in this way and, soon, these new thoughts and feelings will manifest into actions that are tangible and real. Use this process the next time you find yourself experiencing something that is uncomfortable that you do not want to feel. This process outlined above will help you get to the belief that is the root of how you are feeling. Once you can conceive that there is another belief, you can start to believe in this new thought, and then it will manifest as your truth.
This, my friend, is the secret to a stress free & balanced life!