These days, all of us are communicating in various ways, all the time, with many different people. It may be face to face, on the phone, via email or text, or through social media.
When you feel negatively affected by what someone communicates to you, your emotions come to the forefront to protect you. As a side effect, your response may be less skillful and affect the other person negatively. This can lead to an escalation and prolong the negative feelings cycle.
Below is an acronym that can be useful to practice whenever you are communicating with anyone, via any medium. It can help you be more kind, clear, considerate and respectful in your message. It is often helpful to pause, take a breath and check in with yourself prior to your actions.
Before you speak, text, type and/or post, consider:
T. Is what you’re communicating true? Are you stating a fact or more your opinion or feeling about something? Check in with yourself and be clear.
H. Is what you’re communicating helpful? Are you helping the other person, yourself or the situation?
I. Is what you’re communicating important? How important is it and to whom? Is this something that can wait?
N. Is it necessary? Check out whether whatever you want to communicate is better left unsaid, or maybe you could benefit from giving yourself some space before you communicate this thing.
K. Is it kind? Check in about why you’re communicating. What’s your intention and purpose for this communication at this time? Will it be of benefit to you, the other person, the relationship? Is what you’re about to say skillful, respectful and thoughtful?
T.H.I.N.K. is based on a concept originally presented in the 1930s by Herbert J. Taylor
I was recently reminded of a parable that some credit to the Native People. I'm not sure where it comes from, but it always strikes a cord within me. Check it out below:
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says, "There are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, "The one you feed."
Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your internal and/or external environment, try the following coping skill, that has an acronym, S.T.O.P.:
S. Stop. Stop what you’re doing; put your device down; look up from your screen; pause if you’re moving (as long as it’s safe to do so).
T. Take a breath. I mean, really, fully. Fill your abdomen and lungs; breathe in deeply; exhale slowly and steadily.
O. Observe your surroundings. Take a quick inventory of your environment: use your five senses to connect. Now check-in with your internal environment. Do you need to stretch, eat some food, drink some water? How is your emotional state? How busy is your mind?
P. Proceed. Continue with whatever needs your attention next.
This is a quick way to take a break, check-in with yourself and carry on with your day.
Take a moment to breathe in deeply and breathe out fully. Most people don’t pay much attention to this essential component of living. Yet, the breath is perpetually with us, providing information to the brain and the body.
The breath interacts with the autonomic nervous system, which is composed of two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system activates the body; it is sometimes referred to as the “fight, flight, freeze” system. When the brain registers danger, whether real or perceived, it sends messages to the sympathetic nervous system to prepare for action: increase heart rate, breathe shallower, etc. Alternatively, when someone is relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated; sometimes called the “rest and digest” system. When the brain registers absence of danger, it sends messages to the body to slow down the heart rate, deepen breathing, etc.
Since the breath is a function we can regulate, there is a simple technique that can be used to engage the parasympathetic nervous system and help the brain and body calm down. This can be especially useful if you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or stressed. The instructions are written below. You may want to read through the text before trying it out or practice as your read.
I am delighted to share some exciting news with you! As of January 1st, I have begun serving as President of San Francisco's Chapter of California's Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (SF CAMFT). The organization serves about 500 members with offerings that include: access to a listserv, monthly training opportunities, social/networking events, a conference, a mentoring program, support for therapists-in-training, and more. I'm truly humbled and honored to be in this position in my professional community! Learn more about SF CAMFT here.
Many conversations I've had personally and professionally have led to discussing "self-compassion." It often lands heavily in people and a typical response is a lack of knowing how to be compassionate for oneself. Some of the most kind and generous people I know are the toughest on themselves.
Self-compassion may sound like an ominous or unrealistic feat, but perhaps it is possible to shift perspective, even a little. Merriam-Webster defines compassion as, "a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc." Adding the "self," I suggest the following definition: a feeling of wanting to take care of myself when I'm sick, hungry, in trouble, etc. This seems like it may be a slightly less daunting. Perhaps just the intention of wanting to help is enough.
Aspects of compassion may include feelings of generosity, honesty, patience, kindness, and tolerance. I wonder if some ease can be found if "self-compassion" is replaced in the mind by a gentle intention such as, "May I be patient with myself right now," or "May I tolerate myself in this moment." The invitation is for this to be a well-wish for yourself rather than an expectation or demand.
If you're interested in investigating this practice in your life, I suggest starting with something that isn't very difficult or intense.
Often, it is helpful to get support when learning new coping skills such as this one. Contact me for a free consultation or to set up an appointment.
Many of us feel very busy most, if not all of the time. Recently, a comment from a pre-teen jarred me a bit. "I'm sorry I haven't called you. I've been really busy." It was a little amusing and then I found myself thinking about how this young man hears adults in his life say this, and it may be true as well, that he is busy. How can adults model and help cultivate a sense of slowing down for themselves and the young people in their lives?
One idea is to have a moment of awareness at the start and end of each day. When the alarm goes off, check in with what the mind is up to right away. Do you pick up your device and start working or interacting with others immediately? Are you already in meetings and/or rushing through the day? Perhaps take a moment to realize that you're still in your bed. The invitation here is to take an intentional breath or two before you get out of bed and start your day.
When you land back in your bed at the end of the day, perhaps turn off your device and take a few deep, intentional, aware breaths before you close your eyes and rest.
These simple practices may help start and end your day with a moment of connection, with yourself.
Want to learn more and get support around slowing down and developing more balance in your life? Call or text me for a free consultation: 415-533-0405.
I was recently sent a link to the video below. I found it to be a quick and elegant example of the purpose and benefit of mindfulness practice. I also enjoyed the youth perspective.
What are your thoughts about mindfulness? Does the video help clarify what it might look like?
If you feel stressed, anxious, worried, or want to learn ways to be more relaxed and grounded in your life, email me now to set-up an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I feel delighted and honored to be presenting on mindfulness at The Lotus Collaborative in San Francisco on March 10th. This will be a networking opportunity for professionals as well experiential and practical tools!
Please check out the Facebook Event:
or contact me for more information! email@example.com or 415-533-0405
I feel excited and thrilled to announce a new group I've started through meetup.com, Mindfulness Skills Meetup. The focus of the group is to learn about mindfulness, practice some mindfulness skills and meet like-minded individuals. At this time, we will meet once a month. The group will be informal and is not a therapy group, nor does it substitute medical or mental health care.
Please click the link below to learn more:
You're welcome to contact me with any questions or if you'd like more information.