REFLECTION: Perhaps, someone made a thoughtless comment that harpooned your heart. Or, maybe you’re stuck on a business problem and frustrated that there seems to be no good way through. Or, you learn that your financial situation has taken a sharp turn for the worse.
It’s just these kinds of experiences that can amp up the stress in your life – even triggering a self-catered pity party of colossal proportions.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to find a simple way to respond to the angst and find a way to see clearly once more? Of course, practices like meditation, visualization, and the ever-reliable ‘take it for a walk’ approach can bring long term results.
However, what could you do in the heat of the moment to keep from getting burned? In his research on the management of stress, Don Joseph Goewey discovered that hanging on to fear and frustration make it difficult – if not impossible – to recognize more peaceful, positive strategies for handling the challenging situations of the moment. Goewey offers a Clear Button strategy that just might help.
ACTION: Here’s how the Clear Button works. In the face of your stressed out reaction, hold up your left hand in front of your face. Picture a button in the centre of your palm and imagine that this button has the power to put the amygdala (the stress and fear center of your brain) on pause.
With your right hand, press the imaginary button and hold it, counting slowly to three while breathing deeply. On the count of one, see the number as red. On the count of two, see it as blue. On the count of three, see it turn green. On your last exhale, let go of the button, and along with your feelings of stress and alarm.
Goewey notes that each of these steps short circuits the panic inducing messages from the stress alert portion of the brain – clearing the way for a more calm and peaceful response to the situation at hand. It takes advantage of the fact that the primitive part of your brain which excites stress reactions (and which, by the way, has all the emotional intelligence of a tantrum-prone two year old) is easily distracted.
The next time you are bitten by your internal stress alert, give it a try. What have you got to lose? Just 3 seconds. What could you gain? Greater peace of mind, a touch of equilibrium, and a more thoughtful response – one that comes from a place of calm instead of panic.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The mind makes up emergencies that the brain believes are real.” – Don Joseph Goewey
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Read, in Goewey’s own words, The Clear Button – Extinguishing Worry.
READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s message, “Are You Borrowing Trouble?”, Pause reader MS writes: I, too, find people constantly saying, ‘We’ll pay for the weather later!’ I find that very pessimistic and frustrating. I just say, ‘Well, we can’t control the weather so we may as well enjoy and appreciate this lovely weather now.” I’m not sure why people feel the need to say that but it is sad. I try to appreciate the good things in life every single day.