The other day I was in a meeting and started to feel nervous and worried whether I was able to do what they were asking me. At the time, I noticed that my stomach had tightened, and my lungs felt like shrivelled walnuts leaving little space to fill with air. I was also aware that my legs were tightly crossed, and my upper body was hunched, creating a tightness across my chest and shoulders. I instantly knew I had to reposition my body so that I could breathe, relax and regain my confidence.
When we find ourselves in these situations, we often listen to the negative voices in our head, but rarely to our body and the messages it’s giving us. Yet our posture, body gestures and sensations have as much influence on our moods as the thoughts in our head. Consequently, what we need to do is learn to connect the two so that we are able to adjust in the moment and switch from our negative trigger state to our best self.
A way to start to be able to make these changes and to pay attention to both is to start practicing. To do this you’ll need to start to pay close attention to the messages your body is sending you when you are having these trigger moments.
Do you notice yourself looking down or up?
Do you feel queasy inside or tense?
Where in your body do you feel it most?
How would you describe the sensation? (eg I feel fluttering in my chest)
What are the emotions you're feeling?
What are your thoughts and assumptions now?
You might want to set yourself a reminder to make sure that you check in with these feelings and if you can, make a note of them.
When you feel that like you have a good grasp of what the trigger state feels like, I then want you to think about when you are at your best and ask yourself the same questions as before.
The aim is for you to start to notice the clear difference between the two states, both in your body and your mind.
What does it feel like in your trigger state and best self and all the associated sensations and movements that go with it?
How do they both feel different? Again, focus on the movements and sensations.
Now try and find a point of control in your body, that brings everything together. Are you hunched over slightly in your trigger position, but stand tall and proud when you are your best self?
Stop three times a day and spend a few minutes a day moving from your triggered self to your best self. Remind yourself what you are building and working towards and why it is important to you.
Do this for a month or so and hopefully you will start to see a difference on how you can easily switch yourself out of the trigger feeling into your best self.
Charlotte Worth is a Careering into Motherhood partner coach.