Keeping our balance is tricky. Life is complex, to say the least, and, at times, overwhelming. We all know this first hand. We also know that love brings with it its own challenges and problems which can throw us for a loop and threaten our stability. Some problems take us by surprise and escalate before we know what hit us.
At times we may find ourselves flooded by disturbing feelings and thoughts, coming in from all directions, as though someone opened up the gates, without our permission, and invited all the rowdy neighbors over for a hootenanny. They start shaking the walls and rattling the china. “It’s too much!”, they shout. “You can’t do this anymore!”, they yell. “You’ve got to address this right now!”, they demand.
Maybe they are carrying on about your partner, your circumstances, or your feelings. There’s too much anger. Too little affection. Not enough time, money, space, love, hope, or connection. There’s no telling where the intruders will take you, no area of your life, or your relationship, is sacrosanct. You listen to their rant until you decide to do something, but what? Knowing how to cope skillfully with these delicate moments can make a huge difference.
We have a wide range of internal weather conditions that can occur without warning, depending on the conditions, the flarometric pressure, if you will. We survive these uncontrollable weather events — they are temporary — but they can feel, at times, incapacitating. Becoming skillful navigators of our internal weather systems is such a valuable investment of time and energy. Our voices are harrassing us, our feelings are flooding us — what do we do?
If circumstances allow, we can begin to break up the party a bit by moving our bodies, and changing our environment. This step alone can make a noticeable difference in your anxiety level. Get your blood moving so that your physical energy provides some balance and match for your emotional state.
And then get involved in an activity, while engaging your senses as fully as possible. Do something and do it well. Many of us function with a wide range of unresolved issues hovering above us much of the time. But on occasion, depending on countless factors, they get the better of us. By focusing on the task at hand, we can begin to restore our equilibrium, unify our energy and restore our sense of stability. Even a simple task can provide a center around which we can become focused.
That’s not to say that the issues you are contending with should not be addressed. On the contrary, they can be best addressed when you have regained your stability. An essential skill for navigating storms such as this is the ability to direct (and redirect) our attention. Unless we work in a deliberate way with our attention, we will be highly vulnerable to the uninvited visitors that show up all at once. Practice mindfulness during moments such as these. Notice what you are doing and do it well. Be present as you put your cup on the table. Be available to the real life that surrounds you and that you are part of.
Though it may feel that many issues are merging into one, they cannot be addressed at the same time. One at a time is plenty and the present moment may not be an appropriate time for any of them. If you allow your internal sense of urgency to dictate your words and drive your actions, you are unlikely to communicate skillfully or to choose wisely. As you speak to your partner, or your boss, or your daughter, as the case may be, remember to see their eyes, and the color of the world behind them, and the feel of your breath as it nourishes and stabilizes your body, one breath at a time, one moment at a time.
Join Linda for the Renewing your Relationship program, which begins on Feb. 18, 2013.
Linda Anderson Krech, LICSW, is Program Director of the ToDo Institute and has been a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. She is the author of Little Dreams: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Parenting and has been teaching Japanese Psychology for over 20 years.