A curious beginning: An unexpected yet very interesting part of the session was how it started with a teaching. I received a process of how to work through difficult issues. It’s helpful for problems that tend to become fixated, like when you’re trying so hard but nothing is moving forward, or when you get bogged down with overthinking then this will probably get you back to a more balanced headspace. It fit very well with the attendees, who all were very active at self-development, but were needing to get help with some rather sticky issues that were lingering in their lives.
This is a process that works more for problems that don’t readily have a solution or when the pursuit of an answer hasn’t yielded much results.
A ‘sounding board’ could be anything that helps you organize your thoughts. It could be getting a person to speak with and provide feedback, journaling, or even drawing on an actual board. This step is to flesh out the components of the problem, provide clarity, and illuminate all aspects of what’s on your mind.
It is helpful to put thoughts in a physical space. I find that thoughts are sometimes not completed or can have logical inconsistencies if left in the mind. Often we can find ourselves saying, "That sounded better in my head" or "It makes sense more now that I get it out on paper." Getting thoughts out there often gets some distance from the problem and can help illuminate the entire picture.
Step 2. Make Space
Making space is a passive process. It is allowing the things that have been uncovered – be they emotions or worries – space in which to exist without expectation in order to transform.
Normally, it’s automatic for people to, once the problem has been identified, go and try to solve it. However, there are often problems where that is not in fact the solution. When we allow, we are letting go of control and trusting that the issue doesn’t need our intervention to resolve. I find a lot of situations that this is the case. A good example can be negative emotions: many times emotions do not need to be “fixed”, they need to be experienced and then moved past. It’s much more efficient to let an emotion happen without judgment or expectation, rather than force or suppress a specific outcome. If I allow myself to be angry and give that emotion space, I tend to take about an hour or so to calm down and go back to neutral. However, if I suppress that anger, I have seen myself be upset for weeks until I finally blow up!
You know you have “given space” to the issue long enough when there is a shift in the problem somehow....things are suddenly lighter, the way you feel is more calm or content, pain is gone or changed.
I like to visualize the part of me that needs space as a little kid playing in the yard while I watch from the porch. The kid has her process and she knows how she wants to play, and I’m just there to watch. I’m there so the kid feels safe, but I’m not otherwise going to get down and show the kid how she has to play.
Another way that is more direct is to imagine “space” in front of the heart. That space is for the feelings or thoughts to exist in total acceptance without the need to analyze it further.
You know you have “given space” to the issue long enough when there is a shift in the problem somehow. It sometimes feels like things are suddenly lighter, the way you feel is more calm or content, pain is gone or changed or another sign that is relieving the emotion or symptom.
Step 3. Rest
Once the shift has occurred, it is important to nourish our body and mind and regenerate. Often overlooked, rest is a vital component of a well-rounded healing experience. It’s like the crouch before the next leap. Without rest, every subsequent healing will be less and less effective. Rest can be all kinds of things – sleep, a good book, bike-riding, eating a good meal – as long as you feel nourished and replenished afterward. I like to do something for myself that is not usually in my day-to-day, like a creative hobby, or go and visit with friends.
I feel I will be using this strategy a lot from now on (especially the “rest” step). It’s very easy to get driven in our society to “fix” and “control” the difficulties in our lives. This process highlights that the solution is usually already in place, and it’s just a matter of standing by and allowing it to unfold.