So how do we regulate if we don’t already know how?
If we take a pause between an issue and the feeling that occurs in response, then another pause between that feeling and an action, we can slow down enough to choose what to do about it.
The pause means that we can check into a feeling and determine if it’s true, if it’s permanent, and if it means that we need to do anything about it.
The next pause means we can take that decision – do we need to act or not? – and turn it into an awareness about whether we can do something different than we have in the past.
And each time we pause, we are more regulated, more present to the issue at hand rather than overwhelmed by the emotions that always arise in response to the challenge, more like the tree that holds its own in the storm.
There is power in the pause. It roots us, slows us down enough to provide us information.
Let’s walk through this circle to get a clearer idea of what I’m talking about.
An issue arises. Pause as your reaction to it comes up and see what it’s trying to tell you.
(You can pause by taking a few deep breaths, or counting backwards from 10-1, taking a drink of water, or squeezing your hands into a fist.)
Maybe you feel like punching a wall in anger. Or you get a stomach ache every time you think about making that phone call. Maybe you just start screaming or crying or curling up in a ball to avoid it all.
Whatever you’re feeling, it can show up as we expect it to (tears) or it can show up in our body (stomachache).
Look at that feeling during the pause and see what it’s telling you. Our emotions exist to give us information. The pause will allow you to assess what that information actually is.
So, the new coping skill? Name it to tame it.
Use the pause to really figure out what you’re feeling, and why. It’s not just that you’re pissed, you’re pissed because …?
Then NAME IT in terms of your needs. “I feel angry because my coworker calling in sick means I don’t have enough time to make dinner like I planned, which means I won’t get to stay on my health program. I need to feel in control of my schedule so I can feel in control of my lifestyle.”
Last, TAME IT in the next part of the circle – that pause between feeling and behavior. “How can I meet that need even though I’m angry and that’s valid? I can’t make dinner, but I can order something healthy to pick up on the way home – or even have delivered here for my break.”
What do you think? Does taking the time to name the emotion and the need behind it sound like something that would help you cope with it?
Where could you use that in your life? How would it change things?
Give it a try and reach out with questions or thoughts below. Thanks for being here.