The saying goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but it’s time we threw that out with the trash and a whole lot of other limiting beliefs holding us back. It is true that the older we get and the more conditioned we are to react to life in our negative way, the harder it will be to learn a new way to move through life, but it can be done. With patience, compassion, time and perseverance, it can be done.
So you’ve been walking through life reacting to triggers in an unhealthy way, and you know you want to live differently, but you’re not sure where to start. Start by picking a reminder.
What has a tendency to cause you anxiety or make you upset?
I am easily overwhelmed, and when I worked three freelance marketing jobs while being a single mom, the amount of phone calls and emails asking me to complete another project or when would I have a current one complete or telling me my son was sick or that he hit another child at daycare or this bill was due or past due, were all potential panic attacks. When I was first learning about mindfulness, a tip I picked up was to choose mindful minutes throughout my day. Since the phone was particularly triggering for anxiety, I chose when the phone rang to pause and take three deep breaths before I answered.
Breathing into our bellies stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system and triggers the relaxation mode of our bodies. Taking these three deep breaths before answering helped ground me and create a calmer transition from whatever I was in the middle of doing to answering the phone.
Other options are before you eat, slow down and take three breaths. As you back down your driveway before you pull out onto the road, pause and take three breaths. Before you open your computer and get started on work for the day. Before you walk in the door when you get home in the evening.
Find any time of your day that can be a consistent reminder to pause and take those three breaths. It’s a regular practice of pausing and grounding yourself in your body throughout your day. Practicing this daily and when calm will help you to pause in times of emotional stress and remember to breathe before reacting. This is the first step to learning to respond over react. And this helps rewire our brains to a new conditioning of moving throughout life in a new, healthier way.