Many a times life throws us a curve ball. A harsh word from a loved one, an unexpected change at work, a promotion that was passed onto someone else, a commitment that was expected but never received, a job offer that was rescinded, being hit by unexpected medical issues. The list goes on and on…..
Last year I got some very unexpected news. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. I went to bed and woke up the next morning still in shock, went about the day doing what I needed to – running groups, keeping up with my schedule of clients, and staying on top of meetings and paperwork. As the day came to a close, I realized that I was in a daze, and also some kind of mental and emotional haze.
On my way home in a busy subway car, I closed my eyes and for the remainder of my 30 min ride home tried to find my inner voice. Tears were streaming down my face and I was caught off guard by the intensity of my emotions. I asked myself, what is this feeling? What am I feeling? Upset, hateful, angry, bereft, dismayed. What is making me feel this way? Past experiences with people I thought of as self-absorbed, or feeling helpless about things.
A flurry of thoughts– what is happening? How could this happen? What does this mean about my life and those I care about? My mind racing with thoughts, confusing, and contradictory. My feelings– utter disappointment, sadness, and above all grief.
And this process continued intermittently in the days, weeks and months following. And every time I took a little pause to think about where I was emotionally, I came up sometimes breathless and hungry. But connecting consciously to an inner self was immensely helpful in helping me free up my head space to reflect on how I was going to act and react in the coming days, and be present instead of living in the past, longing for less complicated times and conversely far into the future, and what it may bring.
On a regular basis, hitting pause may help you reflect on any additional layers of stress you may be experiencing including sleep issues, anxiety, body pain, including a busy work or family life that may contribute to how you are feeling and doing. For most of us, we are constantly on the go the minute we wake up to the moment we go to bed with little time for introspection or reflection.
This holds true for positive things as well – a date, a vacation, the holidays can be exhilarating, exciting and fun, but may also be associated with stress, apprehension, trepidation and fear. So hit pause, connect with your emotions, and ask yourself – How am I feeling about this? Then you can figure out how you want to proceed. You can read more about knowing the value of your emotions in this prior blog I published.
A rightly timed pause can be used in the presence of others as well. When a cop pulls you over, or your sister puts you down, a colleague makes an insensitive remark, or you child asks you the same question over and over. Think, reflect, and proceed mindfully.
Hope you find this process as helpful as I have. Like using a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.