In December we spoke about a tool called Noticing.

This raises a question what do you do after you have noticed that the feelings you are experiencing are ones that are so overwhelming and powerful that they are bursting to be released. Yet if you unleash them at that moment you know that it will have a negative effect for yourself and those around you. Congratulations if you have realised this! So what can you do?

We suggest another tool called Holding.This is a powerful tool and takes a while to put into practice. It links into a number of concepts such as S.O.S, (Stop, Observe, Steer) and Time Out.These concepts will be unpacked at a later stage.

It begins by accepting the fact that you are overwhelmed with emotion and that you need time to gather inner guidance, strength, and support to assist you in dealing with these feelings.

It is about nurturing yourself while honouring your feelings of being overwhelmed, upset and distressed.

You are agreeing to notice what is going on with you (versus ignoring it, the way it was ignored when you were little) and be with yourself through it versus allowing yourself to be totally annihilated by it or lashing out without thinking of the consequences. An example: if you scream at someone you love and they storm out the door because they can’t take it, you have perpetrated an act of self-annihilation. Think about how you are left feeling in that moment.

Holding has many techniques. Here are some basic ones:

  • Start breathing: slow, deep exhalations
  • Say to yourself ‘I need time out’ or to the other person ‘Let me think about it and I will get back to you’
  • Remove yourself and go to a different area where you can feel safe
  • Wrap yourself with your arms, a duvet or anything that is comforting
  • Make yourself comfortable – in a chair, on the bed or the floor
  • Be still and notice what sensations you are experiencing in your body
  • Breathe and visualise your exhalation going into that area as a soothing balm
  • As your sensations become less overwhelming, begin having a conversation with yourself
  • Start off by asking – What am I feeling? Am I sad, mad, scared, nervous, shamed etc
  • Acknowledge the feeling – Yes, I am feeling…
  • Ask the question – Other than ‘blowing my top’, how can I best put across to another how I am feeling within/about myself without blame or shame?

For those of you who are in a 12-Step Programme you might find that the answer you get is, offer this up to your ‘Higher Power’ or to phone your sponsor; but for those of you who aren’t, try developing this skill: just be still, breathe, be in the moment, honour your feelings and know that it is not about who is right and who is wrong and that you can choose to share how you feel in a different way when you are ready. How you share this information is Food for Thought next month.