Do you find it hard to stand up for yourself?
Do you find it hard to say “yes” when you mean “yes” and “no” when you mean “no”?
Do you find it hard to end a relationship or leave a job that is no longer serving you?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these, and are eager to learn how to say what you mean, we’re excited for you.
This is such important work. It’s also—thankfully— achievable.
For the team at Oasis, helping our clients find their voices and express themselves authentically, is work we love to do.
But before we jump into understanding what might be causing you not to stand up for yourself, and before we offer strategies for re-framing your thinking and scripting new behaviors—
research shows it’s vital first to slow down and feel where you actually are right now.
Just think about how a personal trainer works. They don’t instantly create a physical workout regime for you after meeting you, right?
First, they run you through a bunch of tests and exercises to get an accurate understanding of your current level of physical fitness. Even if you think you know how fit you are, they’ll still clock you running on a treadmill. To see where you are. Right now.
Because you can’t improve what you don’t know.
Research shows that to contact what is true, our thoughts are not a great help. This is because our thoughts are designed (and are great at!) making up endless stories with endless permutations about endless situations that have happened to us.
Thoughts are absolutely helpful for rational thinking.
But thoughts can be an obstacle when it comes to our emotional feelings. To really get in touch with what is true in this moment, we need to start with the body.
Your body is your most trustworthy tuning folk. Because your body—not your mind— is what connects you to what is true for you.
And yet so many people have been conditioned not to feel what we feel.
We have so many ideas about what is good and right to feel.
Yet it is precisely by feeling what you’re feeling – of it!— where the aches arise in your body, where tightness collects, and/or where ease and smoothness flow, you experience what is real for you in this moment. Moment-by-moment. As it is, and as it changes.
Okay. Let’s get started. Once you get this down, this is a practice you can return to any time.
8 Short Steps to Fully Feeling Your Feelings:
1. Start by making yourself comfortable. Feel free to sit down or lay down. See if you can “hear” what your body would most prefer to do. Once sitting or laying down, feel your body rest. Let your body feel fully supported by the chair or cushion or bed. Really sink in.
2. Then, feel air moving in and out of your body. You might find your attention drawn to your nostrils or to your navel. Attentively and gently watch and feel the air entering your body. Notice what it feels like in your chest, in your throat, as the air moves through you. As you’re doing this, keep in mind that there is no ideal way for your breathing to be. So there’s nothing to change. You’re just watching. You’re just tracking. You may find it helpful to repeat with each breath: Breathing in, I breathe in. Breathing out, I breathe out.
3. When you feel aware of your breathing, let whatever experiences came to mind above awaken in your body. Perhaps you find yourself feeling what it feels like in your chest not to stand up for yourself, or what it is like in your throat to say “yes” when you mean “no”. Perhaps you feel how it is for in belly or back or knees to keep staying in that job or relationship that is toxic for you, or just no longer right.
4. Let your body really fill up with the sensations of these experiences.
5. Notice when you start to get involved in your thoughts. Remember, as much as possible, you are practicing staying in your body. As thoughts arise (and they will arise— that’s what thoughts do!), see if you can let the people, conversations, events and opinions move through you like a waterfall. Remind yourself that, right now, you are intentionally choosing to let thoughts go as you stay fully with your body’s experience.
6. For a minute or two (or as long as you want), watch the feelings arising in your body. You can simply notice the pain in the lower back, or the stiffness in the shoulders. You can also experiment with labeling what you notice. Saying quietly aloud, “stiffness in shoulder” or “pain in lower back” helps keep our thinking mind engaged. The thinking mind loves to have something to do. By letting your mind occupy itself with repeating your body’s experiences, your body may find it has permission to hang out longer in just feeling what it is feeling.
7. Whenever you find your thoughts taking over, come back to your body with labelling or to your breath by following the air moving in through your nostils, expanding at the chest and the belly.
8. When you are done, returning to tracking your breath. Whether that’s 1 minute or 5 minutes or 20 minutes later— gently move out of feeling the sensations in your body and shift focus to the breath. You may find it helpful to repeat with each breath: Breathing in, I breathe in. Breathing out, I breathe out.
Wonderful. Great work!
You have just allowed yourself to feel what is like right now in your body. You have given your thoughts and worries a rest. You have practiced watching yourself and your feelings.
That is not easy.
It’s much easier to read about ways you can transform yourself, than to actually engage in work that transforms you.
Notice what you are feeling right now: What did you discover? Were you able to watch your thoughts, and stay in your feelings, even if only for a split second? What helped you settle in your body, and just feel what you were feeling?
This will be an important part of next week’s work, as we shift into exploring practical ways to transform the thoughts and behaviors that hold you back from speaking your truth.
Try practicing this for a few minutes each day this week. Track what you discover.
This will all be very helpful as we continue this deep work.
We’re rooting for you.