Most of us meet with overwhelm, fatigue, and not enough hours in a day to pause to take a quiet moment for down time and recovery. Many of us have changes in our lifestyle we wish to make — food, exercise, obsession with the news, more sleep, etc. Change is often seen through the lens of “What to get rid of” or “What needs fixing” which often lead to failed attempts at change.
When I was actively mothering and working full-time to keep up with my financial responsibilities, overwhelm was a familiar companion. I remember times I wished to ‘stop the train’ and get off. What a helpless feeling! I wanted change and found myself looking through the lens of ‘what needs fixing or changing” in my day so that I could have a quiet moment for me.
One day as I rose from my morning meditation, I had an aha moment. Instead of looking at what to get rid of, I realized that another approach would be reframing my experience and creating a new story. I placed my hands in front of my heart creating a container with my hands. As I gazed at my hands I imagined my container filled with whatever I felt was a source of overwhelm — such as lack of time for quiet, children’s schedules, a busy workday, meal preparation, etc. I would then say (either out loud or silently depending on where I was), “Even this is time for me.” or “Even this is my time”. I’d repeat the phrase several times from a heartfelt place while breathing deeply.
When finished, I felt (sometimes, only a bit) lighter and more positively focused. I could take a deep breath and smile. I was less focused on what I should fix. This simple practice was – and continues to be – a lifesaver for me during some of the most intense times of my life. Over the years I’ve continued the practice of ‘Even this…’ completing the sentence in reference to what I was feeling in the moment — ‘Even this hopelessness, helplessness, or overwhelm contributes to my well-being.’
“Even this….”, is a positive way to reframe an experience, especially when I may not be able to change the situation or I feel stuck and unable to make change. I have recommended this practice to friends, family, and clients over the years with successful results and more openness to change. When I do this, I feel a new agency to my life. I find myself enjoying life more in a positive and empowering way. I enjoy more of my day because I take the time to own my life circumstances without judgement, social comparison, or the need to change anything (especially the things I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to change).
I love when I can share this practice with others and it helps. Most recently, I recommended a client use this practice to begin changing his lifestyle away from an unhealthy addictive behavior and toward healthier choices. Instead of focusing on stopping the behavior, “Even this…” practice reframed the behavior and his feelings of judgement. After doing this for several days, he saw his feelings shift from negative resistance to an opening toward positivity and hope. The behavior he struggled with naturally diminished with little effort and he is confident that the behavior is on its way gone.
In my work, I see folks who wish to change addictive behaviors (from quitting smoking, food addictions, to alcohol). I’ve noticed that, for most people, directly going for getting rid of the behavior is met with any number of failed attempts that may or may not end in success. By adding an empowering practice that reframes their experience allows for more successful change with fewer failures.
Try using, “Even this….” by adding your personal ending to this prompt for reframing your story. I look forward to hearing about your experience.