Think back to the last high-stress situation you faced.
Maybe it was a conflict at work, a tantruming child, a tough conversation with your significant other, or maybe even a song on the radio triggered an avalanche of painful memories.
Do you remember that almost-spinning, desperate, dazed feeling? The powerful urge to escape, to shut it down, to defend or deflect?
And in that state, you might’ve heard yourself thinking thoughts that didn’t reflect your values. Maybe someone else was present, and you were unkind and careless with your words. Maybe you chose behaviors that you almost instantly regretted.
But in that moment, the overwhelm was so profound and all-consuming that you said and did those things anyway. Why?
One reason this happens is that we have an underdeveloped Presence muscle.
The ability to stay in tough conversations or challenging environments, without losing your emotional center, clarity of mind, and sensitivity to other people, is a skill called Presence.
When we’re deeply present, Life doesn’t become easy-peasy and rose petals at every step. (That’s a big myth.)
Challenges are inevitable for us all, but how we navigate these challenges either makes them opportunities for growth, or creates further struggle and heartache.
Presence is the difference maker.
Presence makes it possible for you to witness someone else in an emotional spiral, without getting swept away in that spiral with them.
Presence makes it possible for you to hear criticism or negative feedback, without losing touch with your unconditional worthiness.
Presence makes it possible for your brain to troubleshoot a difficult situation, by getting a clear picture of the resources and options available to you (aka: you’re great under pressure).
Presence is the foundation that every other self-awareness tool rests on, so if high-stress environments tend to create a lot of UNpresence for you, here’s the great news:
Presence is not like my red hair (something I was born with) – it’s a skill; a psychological muscle that can be strengthened at any age, and any stage of life.
The biggest mistake I see people make in this area is that they’ll notice they have a pattern of responding to stress with a lack of Presence, and that acknowledgement leads to shame and “I guess that’s just how I am” limiting beliefs.
But please hear this:
There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you, if you struggle to remain present in stressful moments.
This is an entirely understandable response (so give yourself some major self-compassion), but it’s certainly not the most functional, so instead of focusing on how many times you’ve “screwed up”, the more valuable questions are:
How will I grow from here?
How will I develop this skill?
How will I show up differently next time?
Your ability to remain present in trying situations is not static – it’s a dynamic muscle that can get stronger.
You are not stuck and destined to repeat the same relationship patterns, over and over again.
You are capable of change, deeper self-awareness, more mindfulness, more truth, more YOU.
— There’s a lot of mystery in this Life, but of *that*, I am totally certain.
PS – After the first dinner I shared with my best friend, she said, “It’s almost spooky how super-duper present you are ALL the time. How do you do that?”
I told her, and I’d like to share those insights with you too. In the Rocky Mountains. With handmade chocolates and an intimate group of soul-seekers just like you. Interested? Check out the details here.