Your kids are arguing. Your boss calls you into an unexpected meeting after your report didn’t go well. You’re expected to attend the extended family dinner for your sister’s milestone birthday, but you know exactly what kind of drama tends to ensue.
Whatever your next “oh, sh*t” moment might be, there’s a tool for that: mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
It’s not worrying and not ruminating. We’re wired to ruminate and worry because we’re primates, and that’s what has kept us alive all these millennia, but mindfulness is the opposite of that. It’s being in the moment and knowing what you’re doing when you’re doing it.
And, for the record, it’s not the same as meditating, even though you can combine the two and do a mindfulness meditation – which I highly recommend trying!
Mindfulness gives you an opportunity to practice the pause.
Instead of going instantly into fight, flight, or freeze mode and drowning in your own reactivity, practice the pause. When you pause, you’ll be able to make a more skillful response.
So next time you’re headed into a situation that is likely filled with emotional chaos, set an intention to pause. Know in your body in advance what you’re likely to encounter, then in the moment, feel your feelings from the place of an observer.
“Oh, that’s anxiety. Oh, that’s anger. Oh, I feel like I can’t take this another minute.”
Practice the pause and become the observer, and you’ll create space to choose your response rather than autopilot right into reactivity. Practice mindfulness even when you don’t need it, so you have it handy when you do.