Just Breathe

Thursday, March 20, 2014

As you can probably tell (and have hopefully noticed) C3 has a newly updated and rebranded website.  I am really excited about the new look and expansion of our services.  Completing the rebranding and new website took a bit longer than I anticipated and also longer than I was originally told it would take.  I’m a stickler for deadlines so when my own deadlines are impacted because others can’t keep theirs, it creates a lot of negative chatter in my head and a lot of unnecessary stress.   Most of those negative feelings come from the chatter in my head… (The racing, analyzing ruminating, and catastrophizing, as it’s described in my life-coach training school).

I find this also happens to many of my clients who are in the midst of making both big and small life changes and having new experiences.  Change can be scary and it’s often the chatter in our head that stops us from making necessary and desired changes. I’ve had several clients describe having a “negative brain freeze”; they get overly anxious in certain situations where they feel they’re being assessed or judged by others. I’m sure you can relate to that experience – I know I can. It’s as if the thoughts in your head get frozen and you can’t get them out of your mouth.  The brain freeze comes from the racing and analyzing thoughts that take over your mind.

Perhaps it starts with negative self-talk and self-criticism. Then you begin making assumptions about what others are thinking and, the more this racing and analyzing continues, the more the pathway between your brain and your mouth freezes.

What can you do in these types of situations?  What has worked for my clients, and also for me is first, to recognize this endless rant in your head.  Next, and the key to defusing the situation is to just breathe.   It is amazing how taking a few deep breaths and shifting your focus to the inhale and exhale of your breath can instantaneously stop the chatter, the rant, and the catastrophizing of your brain. I’m always amazed at how far down a path our minds can take us if we let them!   I learned this practice of focused breathing many years ago. I never believed it to be true but it is – you cannot focus on both your breath and the chatter in your head at the same time.  It’s impossible.  Once you shift your attention to your breath, you’ve stopped hearing the chatter in your head.  And then, it slows down.  The longer you can keep the focus on your breath, the more distant the chatter becomes.

For my clients, it often only takes a few deep breaths to unfreeze the brain to mouth pathway that quickly gets blocked by anxious and negative self-talk.  For me, it only took a few deep breaths to allow the analyzing and ranting about the delayed website to stop, which then allowed me to refocus my thoughts elsewhere.  I might have had to do this repeatedly over the past couple of weeks but the bottom line is, it worked every time.  When you find yourself in a negative tailspin of a racing, overanalyzing, or ranting mind, just breathe.  I promise you the rant will stop for as long as you allow yourself to focus on your breath.

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