We’re more than our minds—Handling our feelings (gasp!)

When’s the last time you felt (out of the ordinary) nervous or anxious?

I had that experience just last week.

I was meeting with my lawyer to prepare for giving a deposition. (Long story short, I have a lawsuit against two companies.) I’ve never given a deposition before. As I learned throughout the process, though I might have guessed it from watching a bit of television, it’s not exactly like having a conversation. It’s not a comfortable back and forth, it’s more about being short and to the point, just answering the question that is being asked. Those of you that know me, know that I am a bit of a chatty person. While I am task-oriented, I do love to share details that make the conversation more full and interesting. In this instance, my focus needed to be laser-like (did I understand the question, was I using the correct language to convey my thoughts), and my answers had to be brief.

Before even thinking about the struggle to get into that rhythm, I needed to manage my nerves. Even hearing myself talking about being nervous was new and different for me. That’s not to say don’t get nervous, I absolutely do, and can feel it in my body, but I just don’t talk about it much.

What about you? When’s the last time you were feeling anxious or nervous?

In 2015, I studied breathwork with Drs. Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg. It was another resource in my repertoire for working with my coaching clients. I became certified in their technique, using it not only with my coaching clients but also as part of the self-care program that I brought to Tasmania in partnership with my colleague Julia Curtis.

In learning the breathwork methodology, I started doing “body scans” of myself. In my practice, and in centers across Tasmania, I taught others the same skill. My training (and ongoing practice over the years) served me well last week when I needed to discover more about how I was feeling, locating tension in my body, and then working to calm my nerves through breath work and tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

What’s your process for discovering how you’re feeling?

Perhaps my question sounds unusual though in my work I have found that many people do not know how they feel. They know how they think, up in their minds, yet they don’t easily locate their feelings in their bodies—joy, happiness, contentment, worry, frustration, anger, surprise. (There’s great information available to learn more about these areas. Let me know if you’re interested in the resources.)

Once you’ve discovered your answers about how you’re feeling, how do you support and care for yourself?

I found, that in this nerve-jangling experience,

  • maintaining my awareness of my internal state and working with it,
  • getting congratulatory and constructive feedback from my lawyer as we practiced my testimony, and
  • seeing myself on Zoom—regulating my appearance and demeanor

left me tired and yet generally pleased with my performance.

I also credit my extensive work in Nonviolent Communication with being able to discern my emotional state, to put labels, and assign meaning to my feelings so that I choose how to work with them as opposed to them “running” me.

If you’re curious about breathwork (and the science behind it), I’d suggest Drs. Brown & Gerbarg’s book, Breath, Body, Mind. It’s an easy-to-learn process and always available for our use.

If you’re interested in gaining some of these skills, breathwork, and EFT or perhaps shifting to an appreciative perspective on your life and the world, I hope you’ll be in touch. I coach individuals in all of these areas and use all of them myself.

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