Grief is a universal human emotion. At some point, we all experience it – whether we lose someone dear to us, suffer a trauma or tragedy, or simply live long enough to feel the ache of loss that accrues naturally over a lifetime. And although grief affects us all, it’s rarely easy to deal with. Our ancestors marked death with lavish feasts, loud and sustained lamenting and the wearing of mourning clothing for at least two full years – yet grieving today has mostly become a solo endeavor, and one we’d better hurry up and get through.
Why does change often feel exhausting and unmanageable for so many of us? In a culture where advertising constantly promises us overnight results, we’ve been indoctrinated to think that if something doesn’t change fast, it’s not going to change at all. Simple, incremental changes are not very sexy, but if you look back on your life, the changes you made incrementally were far more likely to result in a tangible shift than those high-velocity leaps that lasted for a few days but didn’t stick for the long term.
Have you made a mistake today? If so, welcome to being human. Mistakes are an inevitable part of life. But what is the secret to learning from them and moving on quickly? In our rather punitive culture, we often head straight for self-recrimination. We berate ourselves, magnify the meaning of the mistake, or get stuck in replaying it in our minds. Researchers at Duke and Wake Forest Universities suggest, however, that the opposite approach – self-compassion – may be much more effective.
Learning to respond, not react, starts with noticing your body’s tension when you’re in a stressful situation. This is your cue to calm down before reacting or engaging in a manner likely to make things worse. In this post, I’ll step you through an exercise for reprocessing past situations so that you can then approach future stress with the calm and clarity essential for a constructive response.
If you’re like most people, muscular tension is your body’s first signal that you’re experiencing a stressful situation. Can interrupt the stress cycle through simple awareness. In this post, I’ll explain how this works. I’ll also share a Harvard study that explains why it works.