Forget the cardinal directions. When something provokes you, all you need to remember is “down” or “back.” Sounds weird, but it works. Here’s how…
It’s Saturday morning. You were in survival mode during the work week, which has pushed all the chores and errands to today. Plus you’re hosting two couples for dinner. And your daughter just reminded you that her lemonade stand is happening after lunch—don’t you remember agreeing to it?
So you enter “productive” mode and dive into chores in a high stress state (the coffee intensifying what’s occurring naturally). Stuff’s getting done, but your mind is two errands ahead and you’re already mentally scratching off optional things like painting your nails.
What to Do:
On the next out-breath, let your body settle. As your lungs contract and your shoulders drop, focus on your core. Feel its weight, like a sandbag anchoring you to the earth.
Why It Works:
Down forces you into your body, into the present, and out of that crazy mind. When I use Down, it reminds me that I’m in charge, not my mind. And I can physically feel that I’m here on this planet, which reminds me of this perspective-boosting quote by Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul:
“You are sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Though you can only see a few thousand stars, there are hundreds of billions of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy alone….You’re just standing on one little ball of dirt and spinning around one of the stars.”
Makes that empty flower vase on the counter not seem like such a big deal, huh?
It’s 5:30pm. The kids are fighting over one square of a five-square sectional and now that it’s escalated into hitting (allegedly), they’ve run to you to state their separate cases. As you turn attention away from dinner prep, you feel your anger bubbling to the top and open your mouth to yell…but is there a better way?
What to Do:
Instead of yelling, mentally pull back from the situation. Think of it like pressing pause and then stepping out of the scene, so you’re no longer the actor but instead the director. To me this feels like setting up camp in the back of my body.
Why It Works:
Back saves you from reacting so instead you can respond. It’s like stepping back from the Christmas tree to see where the next ornament needs to go; you can then step forward and confidently take the action.
This doesn’t mean the emotions evaporate; they’re still in your personal space, completely visible. It’s just that they aren’t pressuring you into poor actions, because you’re coming from a deeper place.
So someday soon, when your story begins to resemble “The Story,” reach for these two tools and calmly direct the crazy back to its cage.
Which new tool are you excited to try? Leave a comment below!