Updated: Nov 29, 2020
You freakin' out man? Or keepin' it cool?
Do you ever feel like you're doing absolutely great but then you have in an interaction with someone who is spinning major fear stories or is just spewing a lot of stress and afterword you find yourself knocked off your good vibe or suddenly stressed out? What just happened?
Let's imagine that you are both emanating a certain frequency ranging from zen to Type A personality after way too much coffee - and you're both cranked up to a certain volume. Maybe your chill vibe is at volume 3 and the stress monster you just hung with was about to blow their speakers at volume 10. Rather than each person maintaining their initial frequency, typically what happens is that one frequency overrides and rubs off on the other. The stronger frequency wins.
So if you are feeling good, are you going to pull others into your calm, or are they going to pull you into their freak out? How does it work? Maybe you relate more to the opposite where you were freaking out about something, but then after a bit of time with someone who was really centered, it dramatically shifted your mood for the better.
Today's quickie read is on Emotional Regulation.
A practical way to look at emotional regulation is to see it as our ability to modulate an "appropriate" emotional response to whatever is coming at us from a seemingly external source. The more centered we are, the more easily we will maintain our cool as opposed to freaking out about something that may be minor. We can often tend towards being overly reactive OR if we are centered, we may simply notice something, and choose our response or lack their of.
It doesn't mean that the calm person is "faking it" and pretending something doesn't trigger them. That is something different called bypassing which is a topic for another day. The fact is that if we are rooted, grounded and centered in the present we are less likely to trigger the part of our brain controlled by our limbic system that pushes us into fight or flight mode.
Take the example of being in traffic and someone cuts you off. One person may freak out, take it personally and go into anger, rage and general frustration. Another person responds by pushing their breaks to avoid getting into a possible accident and then thinks nothing of it, going on with their day in the same emotional pattern they were in before they were cut off. Same situation. Two completely different outcomes in the "victim's" emotional state.
A key question to ask yourself?
Am I grounded enough in my calm that the stressors in life won't pull me out of my zone and into a field of drama, excess stress or anxiety?
Here are 5 helpful practices to keep your calm even if the world is on fire:
One of the key points of yoga is that some of the poses are going to be uncomfortable to a certain degree. We get to practice responding in a calm way to that discomfort by rooting into our bodies and breath. Yoga is a great practice to help us find peace and flexibility in discomfort.
We can learn to become the witness to our thoughts, our sensations and our emotions. Learning to witness our experiences but realizing that we are NOT controlled by them is a big deal. Everyday more people around the world are meditating and benefiting from taking a pause out of their day to get centered.
Mindfulness can be practiced throughout the day and might be less daunting than a formal meditation practice. This is all about becoming more aware of your daily experiences. You can be mindful not to brush your teeth too hard or be mindful about your screen time. Mindfulness practice is simply bringing more attention to what you are doing and how you are navigating a given situation.
4) Labeling Emotions
What emotions are you experiencing typically through out the day and when? Labeling emotions is simple. Next time you get angry - just pause for a moment and think to yourself: I notice anger. Next time you feel frustrated think to yourself: I notice frustration. You can label any emotion. Making a practice of labeling emotions as they arise brings more awareness. Awareness will eventually lead to more conscious control of how long we are "stuck" in a particular emotion.
5) Getting enough sleep
Many of us are not getting enough sleep and as a result have a shorter fuse and weaker signal, if you keep with my metiphore from earlier. Enough sleep = greater likelihood to stay centered and feeling calm.