If you’re American, you probably remember the school presentations where a local firefighter would come and teach you what to do if you ever found yourself on fire – STOP, DROP and ROLL.
The likelihood that most of us will find ourselves literally on fire, is probably quite slim. The metaphorical fires of our lives, however, burn bright and strong. What do we do about those?
I’d like to propose a new, grown-up set of words: STOP, LISTEN, and CHOOSE.
Every one of us has encountered the moment inside when we sense something’s up. That split second when we know that something doesn’t feel right or when the moment feels totally meant-to-be. It’s a sense in the pit of our belly. The first step in addressing our personal emotional fires is therefore – simply to stop. A simple pause, a brief reflection on the moment, three deep breaths is all it takes. Pause. Wait. Be still.
Your body likes to tell you things. Butterflies in your stomach. Tension in your neck. A smile creeping across your face. Tears, just on the brim. In that pause, allow yourself to listen to what your body is telling you. What emotions are represented in the way your body is speaking? Are your tears those of gratitude, sadness or frustration? Did that smile touch off a memory? Do these sensations trigger a string of related thoughts or cause you to lose track of your thoughts all together?
And now what do you do? Here’s where you can make a choice about how best to incorporate what you’ve observed from stopping and listening. Is there something you need to say? How do you say it? What actions, if any, should you take in this moment? Do you need more time to be still? Perhaps a deeper listen? The choice is yours.
Life doesn’t have to be a series of fires you’re scrambling to out put.
Stop. Listen. Choose.