We had a rough first day back to school. My kiddos were bugging each other, Brian and I got frustrated, buttons were pushed and old habits of reacting kicked in – all before 8:30 a.m. What do you do on mornings like this?
The kiddos kept at it in the car on the way to school. I started to feel the familiar weight of feeling responsible for it all, “Ughhh! Why aren’t they getting along? I must be doing something wrong.” Before 9 a.m. I had a laundry list of ways I felt like I was inadequate and failing. What do you do in moments like this?
The “shame and blame” game doesn’t work.
The “yell and threaten” approach doesn’t work.
The “buck up” and “get on with it” harsh self-talk approach doesn’t work.
Begin again with compassion.
In the evening, I got triggered again hearing about something at school that wasn’t right. I jumped on Brian for not instantly emotionally mirroring us as “he should.” Guess what? That didn’t feel good either.
Blaming, harsh self-talk, lashing out, pulling away, “should-ing” when we are triggered and old patterns of reacting come flooding our bodies with stress hormones don’t make us feel better.
When we are stressed and triggered, we contract. We disengage. We get tunnel vision (and often sucked down that tunnel!). We dig our heels in the mud and believe the thoughts running through our heads. We react to the cascade of emotions swirling within us.
What can we do?
“How in the heck do you do that when the forces within me of old beliefs are so strong?!” Folks ask me in emails, at the grocery store, on the playground, at church, and in session.
FIND A MINDFUL WAY AND PRACTICE IT AGAIN AND AGAIN so it becomes second nature to tap into when you go to your default reaction mode.
“What do you do?” I often get asked.
Folks, this is what I do – some times a bagillion times a day:
I feel my feet on the floor.
I imagine the earth beneath me.
I relax my legs and sit up to allow space for my body to breathe fully.
I relax my shoulder, jaw and face.
I feel the crown of my head rising up to the sky.
And I breathe – first focusing on exhaling fully, fully, fully.
I allow whatever is rising up (that cascade of emotions, thoughts, and sensations – that desire to pull away, the blame, shame, shoulds, hurt, anger, fear, sadness) to BE THERE.
(Reader/client/student: “Wait, you mean you ALLOW IT?”
Me: “YES. Mindfully. Keep reading.”)
I allow it all to be there as I hold it all with compassion and spaciousness. AND I BREATHE.
I repeat to myself, “Soften.”
I keep feeling my feet on the earth, noticing my posture, opening and allowing, exhaling fully, I keep giving myself compassion.
I keep connecting. Even when I want to pull away. Even when I don’t want to see “THAT” part of me. Even when I don’t want to acknowledge that I did something I am ashamed of. I keep connecting – to my body, to my heart, to that spaciousness created by COMPASSION.
As I SOFTEN, ALLOW, HAVE COMPASSION, and keep CONNECTING…
I open. I calm down. I move out of fight-or-flight mode. I have access to higher reasoning and creative problem-solving. I am able to choose more wisely how to RESPOND instead of react.
THAT is the foundation of my practice and for creating change, shifting the pull of those old patterns have on us, reconnecting, and beginning again.
I beg you, do it if you have 10 seconds.
~ Do it if you have two minutes.
~ Do it in the car.
~ Do it while making dinner and you have hungry and cranky kiddos and you are at wit’s end.
~ Do it when you are arguing with your partner.
~ Do it when you start to “should” yourself and others.
~ Do it when you feel that familiar surge of shame.
~ Do it when you AREN’T stressed so you build up the habit – 20 times a day!
~ Do it when the LAST things you want to do is have compassion for yourself or your dear ones.
Then we are able to: look at ourselves and others with regard
Then we are able to: remember we are the ocean, not the waves
Then we are able to: let go of assumptions
Then we are able to: remember to reconnect with our children and say, “I see you” and “You matter” and tell them what you appreciate about them, “I love watching you…..”
Then we are able to: choose to not hold back
Then we are able to: choose to drop the perfect and find the miraculous right here
I could go on! With your heavy hearts, worried minds, and exhausted bodies people write to me, call me, stop me when I am out and about. Just yesterday, I saw someone out running errands and they asked me “What do I do?!” I want to resource you all, friends! We all love so much and so deeply. We often make it so complicated (me, too!) – we want to know “why” and we want a quick fix and never to feel this way again. We’ll feel ashamed again. We’ll feel the rise of anger again. We’ll feel like we are failing again. BUT – we’ll be able to catch ourselves quicker. We’ll be able to RESOURCE ourselves more deeply. We’ll be able respond with compassion and choose wiser action.
Begin again and again and again, folks!
Lisa A. McCrohan
Share what mindful practice works for you. Share your heart stirrings. Share what gets your grounded. Share what triggers you. Share what softens you and reminds you to have compassion. Share in the comments below so we can all benefit from each other and build community. I AM ALL ABOUT COMMUNITY!
Here’s another post on A Compassionate Approach to What Divides Us
Here’s another post on taking a N.A.P. when we are stressed (Name, Allow, Presence)
Here’s a post on Cultivating and Practicing Joy
Here’s a post about Noticing the Good (especially in our partners)
Here’s a post on Loving Kindness Meditation
Here’s a post on working with ANGER
Here’s a post on what “courage” really is
Here’s a post on three ways to practice self compassion
** Friends, thank you for all your lovely comments — here, on Facebook, and in emails. It’s a delight to know that something here resonates with you and inspires you. I write from a movement within me, a calling, to inspire this world to live with more delight, compassion, and connection in our everyday lives – however that may look for each of us. Visit the Barefoot Barn for more information or contact me about mindful coaching, psychotherapy, workshops and retreats.