IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU REACT
Move out of the upset or excitement and become the calm in the eye of the hurricane. Allow for the pause required to figure things out. A single calming breath reduces a storm to a gentle breeze. ~ Living Peace
Losing our sense of calm occurs when things don’t go our way, are out of our control; or when we don’t know or are afraid of what will happen next. The tricky thing is, once we lose our calm demeanor, it’s challenging to return to that state as things can quickly spiral us into the emotional fray.
I work to maintain a sense of calm, or if I lose it, to get it back quickly. I have much better luck with the former. I travel a great deal, and find each adventure a chance to practice (and observe other folks reactions to stressful situations). Recently I was chosen for a random screening (stressful and time-consuming), after picking up my luggage in a hurricane ravaged country. My suitcases were filled with humanitarian aid and were donated, so I was unfamiliar with them – blue fabric – was what I picked up. What good luck my bad luck turned out to be when I discovered that I’d picked up the wrong luggage! Even better luck for the unknowing victim! If I hadn’t been screened I would have taken the luggage and a great deal of stress would have ensued. When things go ‘wrong’; it can be very healing to follow along and watch where they go ‘right’ a bit further down the road.
There are certainly times when upset is warranted, and at these times, you have every right to be unhappy. The key is; how long are you going to let it be painful? When are you going to choose a different reaction? The problem isn’t how you are feeling… it’s how you are reacting to how you are feeling that creates the distress. If you can stop for just a second… and shift or gain perspective you will have the power to create a sense of calm.
IN THE MOMENT Feel it and face it ~ and do something better.
Drama, stress and disruption cause a physiological reaction that occurs in response to an event you perceive as harmful. Your brain secretes hormones (I call it a chemical dump), that tell your nervous system to prepare your body to take flight or prepare to fight. This is a primordial reaction and completely inappropriate in most situations (especially driving), but we are primed for it – so it going to happen to us.
What to do?
- Breathe consciously.
- Bring your attention to your breath and slowly breathe deeply and gently. Not only does this bring more oxygen into your body, also negates the fight-or-flight reaction by calming us down.
- Notice the chemical reaction and get your ‘self’ out of the dump
- Check your physical self for tightness or tenseness, even increased body temperature and heart rate; then breathe consciously into those areas.
- Bring your awareness to the chemical dump that is triggering your body and brain; acknowledge it as just that – a chemical reaction. When you detach from the part that is not ‘you’, you will gain the power to take back your calmness and allow the upset to fade away or pass through you.
- Before you re-engage, take a few deep breaths and affirm your positive choices. Step back into the situation when you have re-framed and feel ready.
Staying calm DAY BY DAY
- Even if you are already calm … Slow down and breathe.
- Driving, eating, emailing. Whatever you are doing that causes you to hurry, rush or panic, do it at a reasonable enjoyable pace. Breathe and relax.
- Look for opportunities to practice staying calm. Let someone into traffic before you. Choose the longest line at the supermarket. Pre-plan a joke or profound statement to have on hand in when a stressful moment arises.
- You are only partly in control at all times. Things will happen around you and to you. How you react is what’s important. A sense of grace ensures a calm demeanor.
- When things go wrong watch the story unfold and become the observer. If appropriate, enjoy the plot.
- Live in joy
- Look for the humour in day to day drama. Cartoonists are famous for this ability. Read the funnies.
- See the bigger picture.
- The next time you find yourself losing your sense of calm, breathe deeply, and ask yourself: Will this matter next week? Next month? next year?
- Probably not… but in tragic moments it will to some degree, but not at the level of agony that is felt in the present moment. Time is truly the ultimate healer.
Keep calm and carry on.
Live in joy,