Here’s a tool to help you get unstuck from whatever thoughts and behaviors might be causing you grief.
Noticing and Naming to Create Options
1. Imagine you’re walking down the sidewalk in the neighborhood where you live. You notice a friend walking toward you on the sidewalk on the other side of the somewhat busy street. You call out and wave “hello!” but there’s no response. Notice your own split-second reaction to that “no response” in your own body, a contraction, a drop in energy. Notice whatever thoughts might begin to cascade in response to your body’s reaction. “Hmm, that’s unusual. I’d better try again.” Or “Whew! He has a lot on his mind. I wonder if I should even bother him?” Notice any reactivity to those thoughts. “Gee, he seems a little stuck up today.” Or “Oh, no! What have I done wrong?” Notice if your thoughts follow a pattern that you have noticed before. Feeling badly about yourself or wanting to reach out even more, for example.
2. Now imagine that your friend sees you and, on his own, calls out and waves “hello!” to you. Again, notice your own split-second reaction in your body to him connecting with you now, a smile, an uplift of energy. Bring awareness to any shifts in your body, notice any shifts in your thoughts. “He noticed me!” “I’m glad we weren’t disconnected after all.” As you reflect on your experience, notice if your thoughts follow a pattern that you have also noticed before, perhaps relief or gratitude.
3. Take a moment to name the reactions and the patterns you discovered, with compassion for any reactions that may have been triggered by the noticing. With every moment of practice in noticing and naming, you are strengthening the CEO of resilience. And by pausing to do this, you are conditioning your brain to create choice points, giving yourself the chance to respond with more flexibility and choose a different response the next time.