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Emotional Integration Methods, Part 2

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Part 1 of this article, we looked at how natural emotional reactions can be triggered by primitive reflexes, among other things…

In addition to neutralizing in real time the charge of the emotion, we can then release it for greater freedom and peace.

The method is as simple as the previous techniques and equally profound in effect.  Many people have come up with variations on releasing these emotional “stores” in our bodies.  You can use techniques from Brain Gym, The Sedona Method, Heartmath or others.

It is helpful to be led through the process with a coach or practitioner the first time, but not necessary.

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The Heartmath website has a free survey for you to take that relates to this topic. Just click on the link below.

Welcome to the Stress & Well-Being Survey™

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The main component in all these methods is in noticing what is going on in your body, being with it and STAYING with it until it dissipates.  Usually, when we get uncomfortable with these negative feelings we want to escape them as soon as possible.  But, instead we need to remain in the presence of these emotions.  This is counter-intuitive to how we live, but it works.

The Sedona Method

I’ve used The Sedona Method while on the pre-core machine at the gym with great success.  I had a client that was really stressing me out with her habit of negativity and over-reaction.  I liked this client but was feeling avoidance at the thought of her name.  I had just picked up a book on The Sedona Method and was eager to try this cerebral approach.  I visualized this person in my mind, felt the aversion, pedaled harder and began the internal questioning process:

1.      Name it.  What are you feeling now? (aversion)

2.      Could you welcome this feeling? (No!)

3.      Could your release this feeling? (Yes!)

4.      Will you release it? (Yes, please!)

5.      When? (Now?)

I went through the cycle about three or four times, naming each different feeling as it arose.  And finally, when I felt complete I could picture this client and I actually smiled.  The Sedona Method doesn’t instruct that you need to be moving physically, but with my training with educational kinesiology I knew it could only be beneficial–and it was.

You’ll notice by my answers in the parentheses that it doesn’t matter if you answer “no” to any question.  Just keep breathing and going through the questions until you feel the emotion has released.  There is much great work that can be done with this simple method. (For more info go to www.sedonapress.com).

These methods can be combined with body centered tools that engage the heart/mind and body simultaneously.  This is probably why doing repetitive cardio helped my Sedona process.  All these techniques are useful for use on your own, although some take a bit of instruction or facilitation.

Brain Gym

Brain Gym is one brain/body integration method that listens to your body to unblock whatever is internally holding you back.  Again, this is a simple method involving 26 physical movements to achieve profound change in learning ability and overall emotional health.  This system of integrating activities is taught in person either one on one or in a group by a licensed professional.

Brain Gym

Brain Gym (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many schools are using the techniques with their students to enhance learning ability and readiness.  Once you have worked in person with an instructor you can use all you have learned on your own at home.  Some changes are instantaneous and others unfold over time. (For more info go to www.braingym.org). A benefit of this program is that it is appropriate for even the smallest child (you don’t need to be able to talk, unlike other methods that are more cerebral), whereas other methods profiled in this article are more fitted to school-aged children that have passed a certain developmental stage and adults.

Running on Empty?

Did you ever have a teacher in High School make the class do the exercise “if so and so were and animal, flower or car what would they be?”

I remember my classmates and I doing this once in 10th grade psychology class. My friend decided that I was a Mercedes convertible (I forgot which one exactly) classy, sporty and fun. It fit me. I loved convertibles, especially in sunny southern California.

Of course, my convertible was a sporty FIAT spider,  which eventually broke down beyond repair.

This was in part, because it was a FIAT (fix it again Tony) and in part, because I wasn’t the greatest with routine maintenance. Not horrible, mind you; my dad taught me the basics and I cajoled my male friends into changing my oil and other basic tasks. But, I definitely pushed the limits, arriving to work on empty and such things.

This is a common phenomenon among high school and college students. They call me to say they are running a “little late” for our appointment, because they “just realized” they need to get gas. I smile every time remembering my own adventures running on fumes, putting the car in neutral down the winding hills, so I would make it to the station! Sometimes I think that angels must have pushed me along because I always “just” made it.

It’s not just teenagers that push the limits and run on fumes.

Often we carry these adrenaline driven habits into adulthood just transferring the specific details. We might not ever run out of gas again in the car, but how many times do we run out of patience? Or energy? Kindness? Respect?

When our reserves are low – our levels of back up emergency “funds” – it is very easy to lose out in living our ideal self, living out the person God made us to be.

Maybe your basic physical needs are met. You have plenty of food, clothing and shelter, but your emotional account is empty from constant giving out and never refilling. I know that when I want to give someone “the bird” for cutting me off in traffic, that my emotional reserves are low! (Someone with “road rage” or anger management issues wouldn’t benefit from the above example.)

How do you keep your tanks full enough so that you can choose to respond to a situation, instead of simply reacting out of habit or desperation? What do we need in our lives so that we are free to choose?

One important element is making sure our needs are met and that our reserve tanks are full. One reason I hardly ever ran out of gas in the car I bought when I was 19 was because I knew I had a 2.2 gallon reserve tank. I drove and drove until the light flashed on. When that light flashed on I knew I had entered the “I better watch it” zone. Many times I used up my reserve tank within that .2 of the gallon, but I was intent on really pushing the limits counting on the accuracy of my readings of the mileage.

Not only do you need that reserve, you need an awareness of it, where you are within it, and the perspective to read it accurately. If you are used to reading the odometer in kilometers, but are driving a car with mileage reading only, you will misjudge the distance. How many times have you said “I thought I had more      “  (time, money, patience, whatever). We misjudge the reality of a situation when our perspective is out of whack.

What can throw our perspective out?

  • Fatigue
  • Hunger (low blood sugar)
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Illness
  • What we are ingesting mentally (movies, TV, books, radio and newspapers)
  • Relationships
  • Stress

The list continues. The important fact is to know what your triggers are, so that you prepare a “perspective intervention” for yourself! This isn’t as radical as it sounds. Actually a shift in perspective can happen in a moment.

Some things to experiment with:

  •  Call your “pick me up” person. This could be anyone that can talk you out of your craziness; your friend, mentor, coach.
  • Ask your friends how they shift their perspective and borrow or brainstorm techniques.
  • Go outside and walk around in nature; take time to notice the colors and sounds around you; get out of your head!
  • Off to the gym with you. Stop whining and get moving!
  • Do some Brain Gym (www.braingym.org)

What works for you? I want to hear about it!

Emotional Integration Methods, part 1

Note: I originally wrote this in 2004/5. But, since we all have the tendency to forget what we have learned, I’m re-posting today. I need to read my older articles to remember what really works for me!

English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings

English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reframing your thinking in a positive light is not just for the affirmation spouting “feel good” types.  Research is finally catching up with what many have suspected all along: positive emotions can change your life.  Specifically, they can “broaden people’s habitual modes of thinking and build their physical, intellectual and social resources” according to BL Fredrickson.

When you engage positive thoughts and emotions, not only are you leaving no room for negative emotions, you are also creating new neural pathways in your brain.  This means your brain changes, and thus, you change! 

You can become a healthier person on all levels, especially in relation to your emotional consistency and resilience—something all people  need to be successful.

Doc Childre reminds us in his work (Heartmath) that “attitude directs how you manage your energy.”  How we manage our energy really is how we run our lives and businesses, don’t you think? 

If your energy is scattered or fragmented, you may feel like you are working an awful lot while not achieving the results you want.

IF your energy is being directed by fear or anxiety—emotions often felt when taking huge leaps of faith—your intuition could become stifled along with your creativity resulting in stagnant performance.

Learning how to focus one’s emotions, neutralizing the negative ones, can directly affect productivity, profit and performance.  We know from current research on the brain and heart that these changes are not only psychological in nature; your physiology changes along with your emotions.  It’s not all in your head! We’ve all experienced clammy hands when we are nervous, for example.

Obviously, we can’t control primitive reflexreactions  

Figure 15 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

—like when we are startled—but we can learn to minimize the body reactions by neutralizing our negative thoughts and emotions.

Next: In part 2, we look at some techniques that work to regulate emotions

How to Avoid Meltdown

It’s one of those days: You’re sleep deprived, recovering from a cold, over-worked, having to deal with the most hated parts of your profession (What is it for you?), and you’re PMS-y (sorry men).

Sounds like melt-down,

shut down material to me.

How can you pull yourself out of the pit before

all out emotional catastrophe hits?

1. Be AWARE – Without this there is no hope. You know you are in trouble when your co-workers ask “Why are you so irritable today?” Or “What’s wrong with you?” and you are SURPRISED by the question!

  • Take a few minutes and let yourself quiet before entering your work environment.
  • Notice any feelings or sensations that are nipping at the edges of your consciousness.
  • Take your noticing a step further and ask yourself questions, “Hmm, I’m feeling cranky, what’s up?” or “I’m not wanting to deal with ______ now. What is that telling me?”
  • Look for information, not judgment. Now’s not the time to whack yourself in the head.

2. Take a time-out — you need to stop what you are doing, get off the merry-go-round, and re-assess your options.

  • What activities can be put-off, rescheduled or deleted all together?
  • Tone down to only the absolutely ESSENTIAL tasks while you are not at your optimal levels

For example, one Monday I had something scheduled every hour for 10 hours straight. Then PMS hit hard. I dropped ¾ of the activities and only kept the most necessary, unavoidable ones. I took time out for a “rest” in the afternoon between appointments so I could focus on the next step.

3. Use your “self-talk” arsenal. I’m an auditory learner so I take this advice very literally –-I talk to myself out loud. If you don’t already use anti-catastrophizing tactics start now. These are borrowed from cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) and work wonder for changing your perspective and attitude.

a. Say the thought/feeling (i.e. “I can’t handle this! I hate this.”)

b. Question it (“Is this true?”)

c. Come up with proof for the doubt. (Well, I’ve handled this before and I can do it again.)

d. Turn the language around (I can handle this even if I do hate it!)

e. Find support to give yourself –- find a lifeboat. Ask “who or what can help me feel more capable (in control, aware, competent, etc.) in this situation?”( ex: oh, so and so is an expert at this, I’ll call her and pick her brain before the meeting so I feel confident.)

f. Identify the feeling behind the thought/lie (i.e. I’m scared of looking like a fool and this has me wanting to run and hide…)

g. Congratulate and reward yourself for being PRO-Active and not giving in to the mood gremlins that thrive on your stress.

                                                                                  

  Some healthy ways to reward yourself:

Cancel a meeting and go for a 20 minute walk on the beach with your shoes off. Feel the sand shifting…along with your stress.

Call a friend you miss and have a 15 minute catch-up girl chat. Laugh a lot.

Exchange funny tweets! (but be careful…)

Go get a spa treatment

Walk to your favorite “juice” spot and have a yummy smoothie, while standing in the sun for a few minutes.

Run home and play with your cat or your dog on your lunch break.

You’ve got the idea. Recover your smile and realize you successfully avoided over-reaction melt-down mode.

To increase your arsenal of tools to draw upon next time try incorporating some of the following into your life on a regular basis:

• Reflective journaling • Work with a life coach • Exercise regularly • Take up yoga or meditation • Prayer • Surround yourself with funny friends • Start a nurturing hobby like gardening, knitting, marathon racing, or bird-house building! • Express joy and gratitude daily • Join a supportive group situation where you can be vulnerable and safe.*

(*This could be an actual support group, an affiliation group, a church small group. Explore your options. Living intentionally in community, although challenging, is well worth the rewards.)

What do you choose as your escape pressure valve? How many ideas have you tried? Tell me what has worked for you in the comments.

Courage v. Confidence

The Path to Personal Courage

What do you think about cultivating courage in your personal actions? How necessary is a high level of confidence to the task?

An element that is extremely useful for understanding concepts that are life-transforming comes from Thomas Leonard’s idea of coaching distinctions. Here we are looking at a post by Tom Morris using the famous analogy of Plato’s Cave to explore the difference between confidence and courage.

The only way out of the cave was well known to Plato, and was highly regarded by his student, Aristotle. It is the path of personal courage. Aristotle understood courage as a primary virtue, or strength, in human life. He saw it as a midway point between the extremes and vices of timidity and temerity – or the overly cautious capitulation to fear, on the one hand, and the irrational disregard of danger, on the other. Courage recognizes challenge, understands risk, and while fully cognizant of danger, moves forward with the insight that the best path to the future demands positive action now.

We’ve heard a lot of talk recently about the absence of confidence to be found throughout America, and our pressing need for much more. Confidence is an attitude expectant of success and is a universal facilitator of achievement in situations of uncertainty, as many of the great philosophers have understood. We do indeed need more of this quality than we’re demonstrating right now across the culture. But the virtue of courage can be even more important in a situation of dark threats and daunting anxieties. Deep within the cave, our first need is to be brave.

A courageous person does what’s right rather than what’s easy. He does what’s needed rather than what’s expected. He’s willing to take a chance to make a positive difference. He’s not rash in his actions, or careless in his commitments. And yet he’s not so cautious as to remain trapped in chains of fear. A confident person believes that his actions will succeed. A courageous person may start out only hoping that they will. He does what he thinks he should do, regardless of his degree of confidence. And then, quite often and wonderfully, the actions arising from that courage help to build up and justify the confidence that then works to support him as he goes on.

I love the distinction regarding how a courageous person may not have the confidence to act, yet still does; that courage compels one to move forward in the face of anxiety and fear; that the same courage then can increase our confidence when one is on the other side of the fear by stepping through inertia and moving forward.

What is one way that you acted courageously recently?

How do you instill this courage in your children?

Please share your comments below.

Have a courageous day!

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