-HMH- Fit tip #9
Control Yourself With Grounding Techniques
Have you ever not wanted to eat something but found yourself going to the fridge and eating it anyway? While you were eating it, were you trying to quiet the voice in your head telling you that this is contrary to what’s most important to you?
Have you ever set your mind to go to the gym or go for a run, but found yourself facebooking or tumbling away the time alotted, unable to rouse yourself towards the action that you value?
Have you ever had your ACTIONS in conflict with your VALUES? Maybe you’ve even observed this conflict in real time, knowing it was happening, but still unable to control it and change direction. This is something most people can relate to and is the result of emotions overriding thinking and taking the steering wheel of your life, leaving you to simply observe it all happening and be discouraged by your lack of control over it all.
Often our emotions lead us to do things to cope with them that may provide some ‘positive’ effect but also create an adjacent ‘characterological conflict’, with byproducts of guilt, shame, loss of a sense of personal power, anxiety, depression, etc. Then you have these new, strong emotions to cope with as well, often leading to more of the ‘maladaptive’ behaviour that started them in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle. What to do?
When the first emotion presents itself, it is important to first recognize it is happening. Say something like, “I am feeling sad. I am not this emotion. This emotion will pass.” Observe it non-judgementally. Make a place for it within yourself. Observe how it feels in your body. You first must notice it to then begin what are called grounding techniques.
Grounding techniques are ways that you can get off the ride of emotions and inhabit the peace of the moment rather than the thought-and-behaviour noise the emotion is creating. One such technique is the 5,4,3,2,1 method. I present this because it is easy to remember, portable, and takes only a second to do. It can give an almost instant path back to the peace and control of the moment’s thinking mind, rather than the unrest and lack of control experienced sometimes in the feeling mind. All you need to do is remember 5,4,3,2,1 and the five senses.
It’s like this:
First, be still for a moment. Make sure you’re taking deep breaths and then begin.
5 - see five things - absorb your attention and thoughts in the practice of fully ‘seeing’ five things around you. For example, this moment I can stop and see the water bottle in front of me, its shape, scratches, contents, etc. Then I can turn my attention to the corkboard and all of its random but uniform mashed together cork. I then look at a stack of papers and observe the paper’s colour, how uneven the stack is… WHAT you see isn’t as important as THAT you see it. Conjure up a few observations of each item until you’ve reached five things and then;
4 - hear four things - focus your awareness on your surroundings and listen for distinct sounds. I hear the sound of the TV in the other room, the whirr of the computer fan, the rise and fall of my own breath, and if I wait for the fourth thing…there I swallowed and I’m ready to move on to;
3 - touch three things - now use your sense of touch to really experience the textures around you. I can feel the temperature of the water in the bottle. I can feel the chair pushing against my butt and legs. I can feel my tongue on the roof of my mouth. Next;
2 - smell two things - if you’re around others, this doesn’t have to be too strange. Just consciously smell the air around you. If you want, pick up an object and smell it. I often like to use my shirt just to get that Apple Mango Tango goodness ;) Finally;
1 - taste one thing - if there is something edible around, eat or drink it slowly and fully experience its taste as it washes over your tongue. If not, just swallow your saliva and take note of the taste in your mouth.
There. That’s it. You’re done. Welcome to the present moment. What do you want to do with it? Make a choice instead of watching the emotional auto-pilot crash you into your favourite walls. This, of course, won’t make the feelings go away, but it will give you an intentional pause and a trap-door exit from the emotional gauntlet. It will separate you from the emotional experience driving the behaviour and offer an opportunity to decide and be in control.
Please feel free to message me for any other tips on grounding and meditation, an indispensable lifeskill on the path of personal growth, self control and self fulfillment.