Within 24 hours, 4 of my speaking events were canceled for 2020. This would not only represent about a ¼ of my income for the year but the opportunities that would come from it for 2021.
As the breadwinner for my family with a little one on the way during a global pandemic… this was enough to insight a stress response, even for the “expert”.
But because I am all about maximizing my energy by using Performance-based Mindfulness, instead of freaking out I used another tactic: becoming a mindful observer.
As part of my practice, I became an observer of my feelings... even stress.
People ask what this means, and I use the example of seeing that neighbor who loves to talk – they mean well, but a 2-minute run to the mailbox can turn into a 30-minute conversation.
You don’t want to get caught up in huge conversation with them but you also don’t want to be rude, so you perfect the “head nod smile” to acknowledge them and carry on with your duties without a lengthy conversation.
And so, when I find myself in a stress response- overwhelmed, judging, or ruminating, I acknowledge my feelings just like that neighbor, and observe my feelings instead of getting caught up in a conversation with them.
I observe, “Wow, I feel scared”.
“I feel tense.”
“I feel like a disappointment.”
Instead of getting into a conversation with my feelings, which could look like:
Rumination: “Wow I am scared. That’s because in 5th grade my dad made us move and now I’m just not good with change. And my boss, he’s way too wishy washy. Can’t he be more stable? I’m not good with change and never will be. My boss might be trying to find reasons to fire me. I should update my LinkedIn profile …”
Denying your feelings: “I should feel lucky, I have so much more than other people. I shouldn’t feel this way because I’m not even on the front lines and we have tons of food in our second refrigerator. I just need to put on a happy face”.
Avoiding: Many of us don’t even stop to think or notice how we feel, and we become a workaholic and try to “do” our way out of feeling.
But as I’ve learned from science and my own experience, any of these reactions just means I have to process them later, and that this underlying stressor may cause me to behave in ways that aren’t my best self. IE – we get an email from a coworker and respond right away, which escalates a situation rather than thinking through what might be the best response to this situation.
Our actions, which are informed by our feelings, end up being much healthier, productive, and impactful when we mindfully observe them before going into autopilot reactions.
So, going back to my stressor – the lost business for 2020. I took a minute to observe my feelings and realized there was something I could do. That pause helped me take action and create a webinar that not only created a pipeline for 2021, but more importantly, I impacted over 1,000 professionals, generated over 50 acts of kindness and securing donations for over $20,000.
So I challenge you to become a more mindful observer of your feelings – I promise you, it won’t hurt as bad as you think.