A Different Approach

Do you want to gain a new perspective that helps you think and respond more clearly and reduce stress at the same time?  Well then, read on.

Do you find yourself looking at labels?  They adorn clothing and provide details about where the item was produced, the materials used, and a size.  This information helps us respond, to buy or not to buy, that is the question.  How about your curiosity in reading the labels on food products that describe the ingredients and those serving sizes that seem so small to make the calories contained within so inconsequential!  There are labels on most everything and we pay attention to all the data they offer because they guide our response.  We buy or we pass based on them.  We would not think about stopping this behavior  - its invaluable.  So how about using labels to help us “see” ourselves and become more mindful of the triggers within which guide our responses, both positive and negative.

For simplicity sake, lets take a typical morning commute.  Drivers are weaving in and out, seeking to gain a car length lead.  Cutting you off, making you spill your latte on your favorite suit, and having the last parking spot taken as you come around the corner. Then there are the “dirty” looks and “creative” hand gestures that are shot directly at you with pinpoint accuracy.  Is your blood pressure elevated and breathing racing like a jaguar on the final seconds of a hunt? Are your palms sweaty and strangling the steering wheel?  You likely respond in an autopilot-like fashion that is not flattering.   And you are likely suffering the needless drain of energy, lost forever.

How about another approach?  Try this next time you commute or find yourself in a like situation: turn you attention to your larger surroundings, pay attention to the greater offerings of sights and sounds, be curious (why would someone risk their life by cutting in front of me), recognize and acknowledge what you are feeling and put a label on those feelings.  I’m frustrated, angry, tired, irritated, disappointed, etc.  Yes, just becoming more aware, being more mindful of the totality of the experience, and labeling your feelings helps you regain control, resume responses that are more productive, counter stress, and puts you in a better emotional state.  At the end of the day, the goal is to make the above process a lasting trait. 

Gaining the ability to become more aware takes practice, and even some assistance; maybe a coach, maybe one of several apps for the phone, maybe just relentless practice if you are disciplined and have a high degree of self-imposed accountability.  Don’t take my word.  Try it.

All Rights Reserved 2014.  Ed Higgins