How do YOU know if you’re stressed?
Are you feeling a bit tense right now?
Or maybe you’re feeling peaceful right at this moment…
Maybe you could pause and check!
I can usually tell how stressed I am by the state of my stomach, the tension or lack of it there.
Even if you’re feeling peaceful right now, you know that stressful things can happen out of the blue. The unexpected can occur, and you might be called on to move quickly or make important decisions, with no warning.
Is there any way to prepare for emergencies?
In this episode, you’ll hear how my student, Jim, used his daily practice of Focusing to calmly navigate an exceptionally stressful moment.
My student Jim discovered he’d been preparing for an emergency without even knowing it!
Jim’s wife had a heart attack in the middle of the night.
When he realized what was happening, Jim called 911 and accompanied his wife in the ambulance to the emergency room, holding her hand. She was terrified, and Jim was a strong, supportive presence for her.
Once they got there, Jim advocated for his wife, describing her symptoms clearly and emphatically, so she got seen by a doctor right away.
As the heart attack was diagnosed, and decisions were being made about treatment, Jim kept a clear head, asking questions until he understood exactly what was being proposed, and he helped his wife understand it too.
And it all turned out well. She had two stents put in and went home in a few days.
When Jim told this story to me and the group he was part of, he said:“I forgot all about Focusing. I just went ahead on instinct.”
And I said, “Really? Oh, I know it’s true that you forgot about Focusing. You needed your full attention for your wife and the doctors and the emergency. Of course! You did a great job being present and supportive for her, AND asking the right questions of the doctors.”“Is that how you would have been, before you learned Focusing?” Jim said, “Actually, no! Before I learned how to be Self-in-Presence, I would have been nearly paralyzed by my own fear. I would have hung back and let the doctors make all the decisions. My wife would have seen how scared I was, and that would have been scarier for her. No, you’re right.” “Somehow, because of Focusing, the whole thing was a better experience for both of us.”
She realized she could BE WITH the feelings of “needy, lonely, and sad” so the feelings would have some company. That part of her didn’t have to feel so alone.
That’s what’s so great about having a regular practice of being a calm presence for your own emotional states.
In an emergency, when you really need to be calm and clear-headed, being calm and clear-headed has become automatic. You don’t even have to think about it.
So what was Jim’s daily practice?
ONE: He learned to notice when he was tense or upset. It’s so important to notice. If we don’t, we tend to act from our stressful feeling states instead of from our wisdom. And that often gets us into trouble.
TWO: When he noticed, he paused and named what he was feeling with the phrase, “I am sensing something in me feels…” tense, or upset, or scared…
THREE: He said to the feeling inside: “I am here with you now.”
I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s truly magical what a big difference these simple steps can make.
And here’s the thing: When you do this three-step process, and you get calmer. This is a long-lasting change. It doesn’t just feel good temporarily.
You get bigger. You become the one who can step back from your stressful feelings with compassion, and say to the feelings, “I am here with you now.”
As Jim discovered, this builds a muscle of being able to be calm even when the stuff hits the fan!
So give this a try. If you start now with the regular practice of: Notice, Acknowledge, Be Present with It — I predict you will find you are so much more calm when you really need to be.
And, of course, these small steps are just an example of what’s possible when you learn the whole Focusing process. They are just a small piece of Focusing – enough to make a big difference – but imagine what more can change if you learn the whole Focusing process
To find out more about how you can cultivate this kind of calm presence in your life, click here.So here’s to you… having a more peaceful life.