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    Main | Personal Resilience - A Patchwork Quilt of Earning »

    Swimming downhill

    Whenever life gets challenging I remember a phrase that my Mom once used about "swimming downhill." I also remember a story about picking your feet up and going with the river - trusting - rather than nervously trying to control things by putting your feet down and having life beat at you as it follows its natural course.

    Have you had times in your life where you felt like everything was "too hard" or "taking too long" or "not working?" Most of us have moments like that throughout the day. Sometimes we live there for years.

    When we look at the way our deep, unconscious behavior and habit works - fight, flight and freeze - where would you say resistence fits in? Are we actively, angrily trying to "kill" and beat back the circumstances of our lives (fight)? Are we retreating into escapes - excuses, defenses and behaviors that have us trying to get away from our life circumstances (flight)?

    Or are we living apathy? "Nothing ever works for me." "Maybe if I don't move, they won't notice me." I certainly know a few times I've been in that place in my work life! Another face of "freeze" in our lives is when we're constantly thrown into confusion and indecision by our life circumstances.

    All of these are resistance. All of these are shoving our feet deep into the mud at the bottom of the river. All of these are attempts to control, to be safe and to try and figure out how to get love and approval from the people and world around us.

    So, how do we turn it around? How do we begin swimming downhill rather than up? How do we step out of being frozen and trapped by confusion, fighting, fleeing and freaking out?

    Here and Now Process

    1. Close your eyes.

    2. Stop everything - body & mind.

    3. Feel your closed eyes. Feel your frozen muscles.

    If you can feel your body from inside then you're "home" and focused.

    4. Grab and hold your thumb or wrist. Touch your forehead. Bend your knees, Stand on tiptoe, Tighten a muscle and then slowly let them go.

    Are you here now? Are you home? Say it - "Here and now."

    Clear and Decide

    1. Open your eyes and look. Or keep them closed and look at your memory of what happened.

    2. Say what you're feeling.

    I don't know (I'm confused). I'm mad. I'm scared. I need to get that person/situation away from me. I need to know what to do (I'm confused). I want to just forget about it.

    3. Decide to be OK.  Decide, regardless of what's going on that you're OK right now.

    It's a choice - so make it.

    Emotion coming up? Not able to let it be OK?

    Freeze. Feel from inside your body. Are you here and now? Yes. Say "Yes. I'm here now." Decide to let it be OK.

    Say, "I'm OK." (You might feel dumb - but do it anyway - it works!)

    Choose 1 small, natural thing to do next. Keep it simple. Put your body in motion. Do it.

    If you're sitting, stand. If you're standing, sit. If you're in a meeting - pick up your pen and begin to write. If you're in a tense situation - stand or sit up straight - attention focused on what's happening right now.

    Did it work? Yes. Continue on with your day.

    The Game

    The key to this particular way of dealing with the reactive mind is using the physical stimuli to bring you back to the here and now. THEN, look at or deal with the situation. Only when you are back in the present are you able to act and decide.

    I always choose something that I can make into a habit. Mine is touching my forehead in the middle with 2 fingers. If you see me do that - you'll know that I'm getting myself present. If you didn't know my practice - you wouldn't notice. Except that perhaps I'm suddenly a little less crazy :D.

    The secret to stepping out of flight, fight and freeze is not to resist it. It's to learn to catch it as it happens. The instant you begin to recognize what's going on - you're no longer behaving on auto-pilot. You're back to being a person in charge - even if it's just for this moment.

    For this moment - you're choosing. For this moment, you've stopped resisting. For this moment, you're swimming downhill.

    Guess how I got this post written tonight!

    Happy swimming :D.