When you’re under pressure, what tools do you use to ensure you respond effectively? How do you manage yourself when you are up against it? Life is full of challenging conversations, situations and relationships. As well as regularly facing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It is how you choose to act and your conscious control that determines how well you respond. And with experience, reflection and learning, that gets better over time.
How can you self-manage through these inevitable challenges of life? Think of a situation that is challenging for you right now. A personal or professional relationship, a goal you are striving for, a difficult conversation or meeting, a challenge with your children or a health issue? Take a moment to bring it vividly to mind.
Then follow these three steps.
You’ve got to recognise the signs that you are facing a challenging situation. This is the first step in taking conscious control. Not just the intellectual challenge of a problem that requires a solution. You also want to be aware of how your body responds. Is it open, expansive and relaxed? Ready to meet the challenge before you? Or are you tense, contracted and closed, the mark of someone in fight, flight or overwhelm?
If you are in the former camp, jump straight to number three. If in the latter camp, you want to centre before you do anything else.
When your breathing is fast and shallow, jaw, neck and shoulders tense, stomach tight, chest contracted, heart pounding, you want to use methods that bring you to an open and receptive state of being.
Focus on your breath and make a conscious effort to deepen and lengthen each inhale. Feel your feet on the floor or bum on the seat. Relax your gaze and let your focus broaden as wide as you can. Let go the tension in your face, stomach, chest, tongue. Feel your weight drop towards the floor and, as best you can, bring your attention to the present.
Doing this for 10-20 seconds is enough to reverse that contracted state and bring you to a place of relaxation and expansion. Now you are ready to take conscious control and step into action.
Taking Conscious Control
How are you going to act from here? What is the best way to respond? So many options and each one has its benefits. I have found four perspectives, that are incredibly useful for making decisions about what action to take. Each perspective corresponds to an archetype (an intuitive map and set of patterns that can inform human behaviour).
By embodying archetypes, you can get a felt sense of their qualities, and allow that to inform your decision making. The empowering qualities of each archetype bring you to a place of confidence. They open you to awareness that you may not have been conscious of before. Let’s build a picture of each archetype and see what qualities you embody and how that informs you.
How would you stand or sit with dignity? Back straight? Face calm? Chest and heart open? Spine neutral so that head and pelvis are aligned? Attention expanded in all directions, aware of the space around you? The symbols of your office (crown, mantle (cloak) and sceptre) are responsibilities that can crush or enliven you. How can you bear the responsibilities of family, employer or business owner, parenthood, partner or homeowner lightly, joyfully, with honour and humility? What is of greatest service to you and those you share your life with? How can your sovereignty enrich your life and the life of others? Who do you need to reach out to? What support do you need? Where do you feel Sovereign in your life and body?
How do you get the job done and step up when needed? Eyes focused forward on the goal? Chest open and forward with determination? Taking up space to be seen and heard as you declare your intention? Walking forward with commitment, clarity and purpose? Courageously protect what you most value, regardless of how vulnerable it leaves you or challenging the task?
The armour of Warrior (helmet, breastplate and shield) allow you courage to say “yes” to life. Your weapons empower your fierceness so that you can say “no” when your boundaries are threatened. What do you cherish that wants protecting? What are you a commitment to? Where does Warrior live in your body and show up in your life?
Soften now. Relax and receive. Let the spine and chest open to allow life in. Open your arms. Smile, soften the jaw and face. How do you give and receive? What resources bring you to deeper relationship?
What are you open to here? Where are the opportunities and possibilities? New relationships, collaboration, co-operation? What can you say “yes” to? How can you bring more of yourself to this situation? Where might you be giving yourself away and so need to create a strong “no” for your self-care?
How fully do you trust? Where is your resistance to trust? How would life be different with more compassion and empathy? Where does Lover reside in your body?
Let your weight and attention move upward. Feel light. You might want to bring your hands up above your shoulders and head. Cast your eyes up to the sky. Perhaps come up on your tip toes and move as if floating, gliding, jumping.
What fun and opportunities are available here? What can be created? How can new things be formed and put into motion? What alchemy or transformation can happen…… new ideas, learning, vision, collaboration and co-creation?
What do you need to bring into reality? Start that process by becoming grounded. What action is required to bring thoughts, ideas and inspiration into form?
Over to You
What insights did you get? How is this process different to your usual way of finding solutions? I’d love to hear your discoveries. If you found the idea of using archetypes useful and would like to learn more, I will be speaking at The Embodiment Conference (October 14-25th, 2020) and sharing more powerful tools.
Pass it on
Did you find this blog useful? What have been your take-aways? Know someone who would appreciate the same take-aways? If so, please pass on the link and even let them know about The Embodiment Conference.