Learn to STOP in your tracks and let go…
Throughout the course of doing the work of shutting up and sitting—and then sharing it with the world—I have been open about my own story. I’ve shared some of the details of my parents’ staggering levels of dysfunction: Like alcoholism, drug addiction, and domestic violence.
When I was an infant, my dad would leave for days at a time, chasing a party or on a bender, and I often spent those days with my grandparents—honest-to-goodness, falling-down-drunks in their own rights. They owned little more than the mattress that they slept on and the clothes on their backs, and for as long as I knew they drank from sunup to sundown.
In fact, my baby book notes the very first time I drank a beer: At nine-months-old.
It also documents the first time I got drunk: Eleven-months-old.
That’s just how my life began. That is my origin story—one of chaos and raw emotion, alcoholism and drug addiction, survival and lack and despair.
I believe that building the life I have for myself, today, was practically a miracle: A miracle that started with waking up and turning to mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t just something I teach; it’s been my personal journey. A journey of sitting down and shutting up—and discovering through silence all the life-changing magic that comes with it.
But, throughout all those years of drinking and drugging, violence and dysfunction, suffering and despair, I wonder if anyone ever thought to themselves: We should STOP.
I doubt they even knew they could.
If you didn’t catch last week’s post, on the three ways human beings handle emotions be sure to check it out, because it lays the foundation for what the STOP Technique is all about: Stopping in your tracks (or in the middle of a negative thought spiral, as the case may be) and letting go of negative emotions or destructive thought patterns.
This four-step technique is literally the gateway to freedom from negative emotions. (And its step number one of a totally transformational 9-step process I’ll be sharing on the blog next week!)
Here is the thing: The whole point of learning to harness the power that your emotions have is so you can let them go. When you find yourself trapped in a negative emotion or a place of resistance, the STOP Technique will guide you towards allowing the emotion to exist and then to letting it go.
Everybody loves a good acronym. In this case, STOP means:
S: Stand up
T: Take a deep breath
O: Open your mind to another possibility
P: Pause before taking the next step
In other words, whenever you become aware of the fact that you’ve launched yourself into a downward spiral, physically and mentally STOP whatever you are doing, pulling yourself out of unconscious patterns and behaviors, and connect with the present moment—the seat of all freedom. (You can even say it out loud to yourself if you must: “Stop!” If you’re spiraling out of control anyway, who cares what anyone around you thinks?)
Let’s say you’re in the throes of becoming really angry, for example. Notice that. Then, just stop.
Stand up, root your feet into the ground, take a deep breath through your nose.
Open yourself up to the possibility of choosing a different reaction.
Suddenly, you find yourself noticing how cool the air is, or the young family playing happily in the park outside your window. Maybe you start to realize that you are surrounded by beauty, joy, and abundance. Maybe you just take a couple seconds to really tune into your body and realize you don’t totally hate your co-worker (or whoever or whatever sparked your anger) but that actually, you just didn’t have time for breakfast and could use a sandwich.
The point is you choose another feeling. You recognize that anger (or whatever it is you are feeling) does not have to be your reality.
And, just like that, you free yourself.
If you want to learn even more about the STOP Technique, check out Power Vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior by David Hawkins.
Want to learn more? There’s a book for that! Click here to take the first step towards greater awakening, awareness, self-love and personal transformation.
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