Art Heals: Express Yourself and Reduce Stress with Art

Art Heals: Express Yourself and Reduce Stress with Art

by Debbie Lyn Toomey


Ever have a terrifying nightmare from childhood that sneaks up on you?

Similar to the usual “falling” dream that some people have, I have one that I call the “Tidal Wave” dream and it happened last weekend. Thanks to art, I was able to rise above the lingering feelings of dread. By drawing and coloring, I literally “drew” out the feelings of uncertainty that stayed with me all morning long.

Nightmare

I hadn’t had this type of nightmare in a long time. I was confused as to why it occurred again. Frankly, I thought I was over that type of dream a long time ago! The last time I had the “Tidal Wave” dream I woke up happy! I was so proud of myself because, instead of being swallowed up by the Statue of Liberty size wave, I was riding the wave with a big smile on my face boldly going where ever it took me.

Transformed

I woke up feeling transformed. That was about 5 years ago when I started to feel more confident and clear about my life’s work (the big “W” work/life purpose one). That was around the time when I started my company Ultimate Healing Journey, LLC, a company focused on motivating and coaching today’s busy people with happiness and mindfulness skills to fuel their success. It was an exciting time!

Wave

Why did the wave dream came back? That dream first occurred when I was much younger; when I didn’t feel strong or sure of myself. Back then, this tsunami size wave would come out of nowhere and swallow me up causing me to gasp for air and fight for my life. I hated that sinking feeling of fright that always stayed with me for days. Although, the Tidal Wave in my recent dream disappeared way before it got to me (thank God!), it still shook me up.

Morning

I thought I was done with this dream! I wondered what could have brought it on. At breakfast, I told me family about it. I always encouraged my family to share their nightmares because I feel it was a good way to chase the nightmares away. In other words, the dark always disappears in the light.

River

After breakfast, my family and I took advantage of an unusually dry and cool August morning and went for a walk down along the Neponset River. The nice day and the cool breeze made it a great day for boaters and fishermen to be out on the relaxing waters. It was such a beautiful scene to watch. I really enjoyed that walk.

Tsunami

Later that day, I found myself sitting at my desk with a blank white piece of paper and a pencil. I decided to draw. The image I started with was the Tidal Wave. It took up 95% of my paper! At the bottom of the page was a tiny stick figure of me as if looking up at the gigantic body of water. I was taken aback when I saw it right in front of me. As I colored this all-consuming wave with my light blue colored marker my breathing soon became fast and shallow. It brought up feelings of frustration and powerlessness and of being overwhelmed! It was strange (and interesting) how my kindergarten looking drawing reflected how I’ve been feeling for the last few weeks.

Stress

The last few weeks have been tiring and tough for me. I did my best to stay afloat of what was going on. I had self-imposed stress such as creating the coloring book companion for my book and trying to get my mindfulness study approved. I also had other stressors that were beyond my control which included dealing with a strange water leak that happened on my birthday and having to go without my car for 2 weeks, helping my 79-year-old mother after having total knee replacement surgery, coping with the fact that my oldest son was ready to move out of our house, and helping my nervous 12-year-old son get excited for his week-long boy scout camping.

Depressed

Thank goodness it wasn’t a typically month for me. Despite my self-care routine of yoga, mindfulness meditation, and gratitude practice, I still felt down and depressed. I hadn’t felt like this in a long time. This became clear as I looked at my finished drawing.

Peace

I decided to draw the image that I saw during my morning walk. On a separate piece of white paper, I drew the river and the boats that were on the water. I found peace in that piece. I outlined the bench that my husband and I sat on and added the shrubs and flowers that were at the river’s edge. As I colored, a deep and soothing breath filled my lungs. It made me smile. Although, my art work was far from being a Renoir filled with pastels and pretty color, it was a relaxing work of art! I noticed my breathing change. It was slower and deeper. There was nothing stressful about my drawing. Then, I took another step.

Feelings

I compared both pictures. I noticed how different they were and how they made me feel. Then, I wrote down on one side of the Tidal Wave picture how the image made me feel. I wrote down my stressors and what caused me sadness. As I listed them, I was surprised at how many I had. The more I wrote, the more my head nodded with agreement.

Balance

I did the same thing with my other drawing. In that one, I wrote down how it made me feel. I wrote that I wanted to have balance, fun, and time to relax and be with my family. Then, I wrote down I how I would like to feel. A couple of ideas came to mind. One was to simplify and slow down my calendar. I created a schedule that included activities and projects that I needed and wanted to do. I made sure I allowed for extra time to rest and have fun. Another idea was to invite my parents over for a homemade pizza dinner so we can see each other and catch up.

Tides

These two drawings were such an eye opener for me. While they were opposites, they gave me an important insight into my internal and downward turbulence. This visual expressive exercise healed me! It freed up so much of what I was feeling in such an innocent and tangible way. I highly recommend this exercise to anyone who is feeling stressed. While a nightmare was the motivator behind my experience, you can start doing this now to determine how you are feeling.

Express

Allow art to heal you from your pain and reduce your stress. All you have to do is express yourself. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art is a form of therapy that helps people “explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.” Don’t let the simplicity of this practice fool you. Art heals and you don’t have to have any artistic talent for it to help you. Any expressive medium can help you such as clay, paint, wood, music, dance, photography, etc.

Benefits

There are many studies that show the beneficial effects of art for healing, stress reduction, and personal growth. Art as form of therapy has helped people with ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum, Age management, Abuse, PTSD, Cancer, and so much more. Art as a form of therapy is found in many settings such as: hospitals, wellness studios, schools, and home. While it is becoming more widely used, it is always recommended for people with mental health problems to seek professional advice before undergoing any sort of treatment.

How?

For those of you who are not under the supervision and care of mental health professionals, there are simple ways to get started. Here’s how you can express yourself and reduce your stress with art.

1. Choose: Pick the expressive art medium that you like and start creating. Allow the medium to move you.

2. Compare: Do a comparison. Have a before and after version of how you are feeling. It could be a past vs. present or bad vs. good version.

3. Clarity: Accept the different feelings that come up and view them with no judgement. This will help you to avoid clouding your mind with any self-limiting or more negative thoughts.

4. Control: Notice how much a sense of calm, control and confidence comes to you with this exercise.

5. Create: Be creative in how you do this practice. Make this practice your own.

Happiness

Go forth and express yourself through art. You will be surprise at just how much better you will feel afterwards. A great way to get started is by coloring and to help you along, The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring book will be available to you by the end of the summer. Coloring books have been proven to calm the mind and reduce stress. It’s a great way to combine art with mindfulness. To learn more about its companion book, The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success go to www.TheHappinessResult.com.

Class

Master trainer and coach Patrick Howell and I are going to be offering an introductory online course on this topic soon. Please stay tuned for more information on this unique and fascinating art therapy class.

Mindfulness: Decrease Your Stress with Mindful Listening –

Mindfulness: Decrease Your Stress with Mindful Listening

Learn Seven Steps for Better Communication

by Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

In college, many moons ago, I had an English professor who challenged me and said, “listen to your listening.” He said this on the first day of class wearing his summer straw hat and Hawaiian shirt. Professor Nelson was witty, authentic, and a lover of life. He captivated the class as he stood up on top a desk and recited his favorite butterfly poem. When he spoke, everyone listened. It was he who talked to us about the importance of effective communication. To my surprise, listening was the most important part of communication. I didn’t understand what he meant until years later.

Exchange of Energy

As I grew older, I realized he was right! Communication is not just about talking. It’s more than that. It has to do with the exchange of energy and words (said and unsaid) between the parties involved. When the mind, body, and spirit are engaged and when the parties involved are fully present for the other, mindful communication happens. Languages such as verbal, body, and intuition are part of our expression. The more we pay attention and listen to all these aspects of expression, the better.

Difficulties

With so many forms of languages available to us, why is it so difficult to communicate? Perhaps it’s because we have gotten into the habit of thinking we are too busy and feel that we can multitask while someone is talking to us. Maybe it’s because our attention span has dwindled to a mere
8 seconds. Or maybe, we are just so stressed that although we are hearing what the other is saying, we are not comprehending or remembering what was just said. Is being an irritating “squeaky wheel” the only way to be seen and heard these days? I hope not.

On the Go

Although our lives were supposed to be made easier by modern technology, it hasn’t happened. The level of stress that Americans live with has sky rocketed. We are constantly on the go and when we are not busy, we feel guilty. We feel like we always have to be doing something worthwhile with our time.

Source of Stress

Professionals in my corporate wellness training programs complain that communication is one of their sources of frustration and stress. This problem has caused feelings of resentment, staff-splitting, wasted time on valuable projects, and costly mistakes. Poor communication is confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a contributor of workplace stress.

Invest a Few Minutes

One of the best ways to take care of the communication problem is to invest in a few minutes of mindful communication. Here are four ways mindful communication can benefit us.

1. Show appreciation to the other person by fully allowing the other to speak

2. Prevent misunderstanding that can lead to errors or hard feelings

3. Save time by knowing what is being said so that the right action can be taken

4. Foster positivity by modeling respect for each other

Seven Steps

Although communication has become a big problem during our lifetime there are ways to improve it by listen to your listening. Here’s are the seven steps for better communication:

1. STOP: Create the intention of fully listening to the individual

2. LOOK: Be curious and watch his/her body language

3. LISTEN: Listen to what is being said and unsaid. Listen to what your gut instinct is telling you

4. WAIT: Allow the individual to finish his/her thought or sentence before you answer

5. SENSE: Notice your body language. Adjust yourself so that you are fully face-to-face with the individual

6. SUMMARIZE: Repeat what you just heard to make sure you heard correctly

7. REPEAT: Repeat 1-6 as necessary until the message has been fully accepted and received

A Skill

Mindful communication is a skill that is worth cultivating to be successful in life. The more you practice it the easier it gets. To learn more about mindful communication and ways it can enhance your work and life, contact me at debbielyn@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

 

Mindfulness: 5 Ways to Overcome Barriers of Effective Communication By Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

Mindfulness: 5 Ways to Overcome Barriers of Effective Communication

By Debbie Lyn Toomey

What?

Huh?

What did you say?

These questions are what my aging parents ask me when I am talking to them. My mother, a three-time cancer survivor, lost most of her hearing from the side-effects of the chemotherapy, and my father lost his from aging. I have to be mindful when I talk with them so that they are able to hear me. That said, what if you are trying to converse with someone who has great hearing but who is not fully listening to you? Don’t take it personally. It’s not you. Nowadays, there are many obstacles that get in the way of effective communication. Here are three noteworthy barriers to consider and five solutions to help you become more successful at verbal communication.

Screen Time

The more you understand the about barriers, the more you will be able to use the right skill to enhance your relationships and increase your success. According to a Nielsen report(2016), the average American spends almost half the day on a screen. To be exact, an average US adult devotes about 10 hours and 39 minutes a day consuming media. This number is expected to increase. Whether it be a phone screen, computer screen, or television screen, it is still something that people compete with to get the undivided attention of others.

Age of Distraction

Another barrier is our decreasing attention span. More and more people are taking medications to help with their ability to “focus.” Why? Because we are living in the age of distraction. Distraction from technology that we have for personal use and professional use. In 2015, Time magazine wrote an article about Microsoft’s report on attention span. It was an article that caught the attention of the world showing that a goldfish has a longer attention span than the average human. It stated that the attention span of an average human has decreased to eight seconds mainly due to the widespread use of smartphones.

Pet vs. Master

While it might sound comical at first to have a simple house pet win over its master, the truth is not funny! In the 2015 Microsoft report, a goldfish was able to sustain its attention for 9 seconds. One second more than its highly-evolved competitor. Moreover, this report shared that our attention span has deteriorated from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. 2000 was around the time of the mobile technology revolution.

CPA

Another cause for the impaired communication is our need to stay in the know of what is going on all the time. This is what Linda Stone in 1998 coined continuous partial attention (CPA). Unlike the heralded act of multi-tasking where we are trying to do more than one activity at the same time to be more efficient, CPA relies on the need to not want to miss anything. This need to not miss out on any new connection or news makes us feel as though we must be constantly connected to media. According to Stone, CPA makes us feel alive when we are connected and plugged in. CPA is another barrier that inhibits our ability to fully listen and engage with another person.

Still There?

I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Are you still reading this article? If you are, thank you! Because I have 5 solutions to help you overcome these barriers so that you can have more effective communication and connection with people in your life. Some might think that what I am about to share are all common-sense-solutions. They are right! But as I mentioned in my book, The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success, common sense is not so common these days.

5 Ways

The key to all of these solutions is mindfulness. The more we create purposeful actions toward better communication, the better our interactions will be. The 5 ways for better communication are:

1. Mobile device: Put your mobile device away when you are about to talk with someone. PERIOD.

2. Eye contact: When you are talking with someone, make sustained eye contact with the individuals for about 3-5 seconds. Eye contact, according to James Wirth, social psychologist, provide us with some of the strongest information from social interactions. Be mindful and make eye contact.

3. Listen: Be silent when the other person is talking with you. Avoid interruptions like giving your opinions right away. Use this silent time to actively and empathically listen to what your mind and heart are telling you. Listen to the words being said and watch his/her body language (active listening) and try to pick up on his/her emotions (empathetic listening). Shut up and listen up.

4. Summarize: Once the individual is done speaking, rephrase or summarize what you heard. This will ensure that you fully understood the content of the conversation and show the individual that you were engaged with the conversation. Show you care and summarize.

5. Concise: Remember you have only 8 seconds to captivate someone’s attention. Therefore, speak clearly and concisely. The clearer you are expressing yourself, the less likely a misunderstanding and misinterpretation will happen. This is one of the basic elements of being a competent communicator. Get to the point.

Keep Practicing

Next time you feel that you are not being heard or people are not listening to you, be mindful of the common obstacles that stand in the way of communication in this age of distraction. Try the 5 mindfulness solutions that I shared with you and above all else, keep practicing. Effective communication and mindful listening are skills. They require practice in order for you to master them.

To learn more ways to add more time, more health, more love, and more success in your life, get a copy of my book, The Happiness Result. It will give you 7 awesome skills to live your best life. Click here to get the book www.TheHappinessResult.com.

Questions Create Reality

Questions Create Reality
Three Questions You Can Ask to Gain More Positivity and Success in Life

By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN Health and Happiness Specialist™

“Be careful what you ask for.”

“Ask and you shall receive.”

“The answer is in the questions.”

These sayings are so true. We have to be mindful of our thoughts and the words we use in our questions because they will create our reality.

What?

Let me explain. Have you ever stopped to think about the kind of questions that you ask? Do they focus on the negative or the positive? Questions that asks for more negative answers will give you more negativity. On the other hand, questions that seeks positive answers reveal positivity.

Why?

This happens because our mind is obedient. It will find the answers to the questions that we pose. By asking what else can go wrong, our brain will scan for other events or things that can go badly. But if we ask what else do we have to work with or how can we improve on this, our brain will find ways to help rise above the situation.

Where?

One of the best things I learned while studying Positive Psychology is how important it is to focus on the good – especially when asking questions. Positive Psychology is the science of happiness and also the science of optimum human performance and flourishing. Those who practice Positive Psychology learn what is working and create practices that cultivate growth and greatness. Positive Psychologists ask what is right instead of what is wrong. It is from asking these simple yet powerful questions that the skills of happiness, resilience, and success were discovered.

Who?

Next time you ask a question of yourself or others, pause for a second and think about the real outcome that you want. Once you tune into it, pose your question in a positive way so that you will create the reality that you are looking for.

How?

Here are three questions you can ask to gain more positivity and success into your life. They are:

“What went well?”

“What can we learn from this?”

“What is right in this moment?”

I invite you to try asking these questions during the day and notice all the goodness that emerges as the result of this simple, yet powerful exercise. Enjoy reaping all the benefits that will be coming your way.

To learn more ways to gain more of what you want in life, read my book, The Happiness Result- More time, More health, More love, More success. Click here to get your copy today. Contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today to learn how we can work together.

3 Ways to Win Friends and Be a Positive Influence at Work

3 Ways to Win Friends and Be a Positive Influence at Work

by Debbie Lyn Toomey



Have you ever had a bad day that quickly changed after someone did something nice for you?

Have you ever given someone heartfelt praise that left them smiling from ear to ear?

Have you ever gone out of your way to let your boss know that you appreciate him or her?

A long time ago when I worked as a nurse in an inpatient floor at a hospital, there used to be a worker called Buddy. Buddy was very popular not because he was a world renown surgeon who saved lives, but because he was a kind person who was extremely friendly and appreciative to nurses. He respected nurses and took care of us. Buddy won us over and became friends to all the nurses.

Buddy

Buddy’s job was transporting patients to and from their tests. Everyone loved seeing him because he always came with a smile on his face, a pocket full of mints, and a thoughtful statement of appreciation. Even when he was busy, he took the time to give praise or a piece of candy from his bottomless pockets. Kind deeds and heartfelt gestures are wonderful ways to brighten someone’s day.

Positive Influence

Businesses can use a lot more people like Buddy to help decrease negativity in the workplace. While it’s few and far between to have a “Buddy” in every workplace, there are ways to adopt his winning and positive gestures to be a positive influence at work.

Three Ways

Here are three ways to win friends and be a positive influence at work.

They are:

1. Time: Take a few seconds to extend your good wishes to a co-worker or a boss. This gesture is one of the best uses of your time in the workplace. In fact, consider it part of your duty.

2. Treat: Keep a stash of hard candy or gum at your work desk. Always be ready to give someone a treat. It’s hard to say no to someone bearing gifts. No matter how small the gift may be.

3. Talk: Instead of emailing someone, walk over to their desk and speak to them face-to-face. It’s always better to interact with a real person than a virtual one. Texting is cheap. Talking is priceless.

Invest

The more you invest the time in a personable communication, the more your company will see you as a positive force in the workplace. Positive people can inspire others to do more for them than negative ones. Be like Buddy and be the change you want to see at work. To learn more ways to add more positivity in the workplace, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com for ways I can bring more content to your workplace.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Important for Work/Life Success

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Important for Work/Life Success
By Debbie Lyn Toomey

“What really matters for success, character, happiness and lifelong achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ — not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.”  — Daniel Goleman

When I was a little girl, I spent much of my time watching movie classics such as The Ten Commandments, The Sound of Music, Little Women, etc. I loved the stories and admired the way the main characters managed themselves during trying times. I marveled at the way the characters controlled their temperaments and were able to sense how to communicate effectively with their families and their foes. I believe they used emotional intelligence (EQ) to succeed in order to survive.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

I believe these main characters had high EQs. They all had a great sense of self and were able to use that knowledge to control and manage how they related to others. They demonstrated in their own way wonderful leadership qualities such as charisma, humor, and humility. According to Psychology Today, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” While traditionally a high IQ was thought to be the determining factor for success, researchers have recently discovered that people with high EQ have a much higher chance of personal and professional success.

Work and Life

In today’s fast-paced world of anxiety, aggression, and distraction, emotional intelligence has never been more important both at work and in life. EQ can boost levels of happiness, enhance relationships, deepen connections, and improve quality of life. EQ helps you become more resilient and separates the “star performer from the rest of the pack,” according to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

Get Started

Everyone has a certain level of EQ.  Even though there are people who are born with a higher EQ than others, there are ways to increase this talent. Fortunately, experts like Daniel Goleman believe EQ can be learned. When practiced, these skills will strengthen your character and enhance the story of your whole life. While there are many ways to boost your EQ, here are three ways to get started.

  1. Mindfulness– be present. Notice the body language of others and be mindful of your own as well. Listen fully to what they are saying and allow them to talk. Ask questions and relay back what you just heard. Doing this will help them know that you are fully engaged with them.
  2. Self-awareness– know thyself. The more you know and accept your strengths, weakness, and triggers, the more you can manage how you act and interact with others. This will help you during any unforeseen conflicts in life.
  3. Empathy– be in tune. As you talk with someone, pay attention to what the other person is saying and how they are saying it. Tune into the slight changes in their body language, vocal tone, and listen to the words that they are saying. Notice the emotions that you are picking up from them during the interaction. Study the other person carefully.

More

Have fun with these skills. Practice them when at home and at work. Allow them to become a positive habit for you so that you will gain the success that you are looking for. To learn more ways to become more mindful, self-aware, and empathic get my book, The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success. This book covers seven simple techniques to create your happy and awesome life. For coaching support or to bring a positivity in the workplace program to your company, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

DETOX WITH MINDFULNESS & SELF-COMPASSION: FEEL LIGHTER DURING THE DIFFICULT & HEAVY TIMES

Detox with Mindfulness & Self-compassion:
Feel Lighter During the Difficult & Heavy Times
By Debbie Lyn Toomey


Are you tired of listening to negativity all the time?

Are people around you dragging you down with their complaints and pessimism?

Are you sick of all the depressing stories that the media is constantly telling us?

Constant negativity is toxic. It penetrates our mind, then our heart and eventually our body. Luckily, there are techniques we can use to get rid of the unwanted feelings that are caused by negativity. These two techniques make for a healthy detox that can help you feel secure, supported and stronger during difficult times. The techniques are mindfulness and self-compassion. These two practices have helped me feel more in control and content when life seems bleak and gray.

Heavy Feelings

Negativity is infectious. It makes us feel heavy inside. In fact, according to researchers like Rick Hanson and Barbara Fredrickson, people have a negativity bias. That means negativity stays with us longer than positivity. In order to get rid of the negativity, we need to experience three times more positive feelings than negative. It takes three positive experiences to cancel one negative one. I experienced this when my bad feelings spiraled down from focusing on more and more negative experiences. My happy self was slipping away.

My Medicine

I ate junk food to feel better. Food became my medicine. It was my quick fix. Eventually, this comfort habit made me feel worse when I began to notice my clothes getting tighter and the numbers on my bathroom scale began moving in the wrong direction! Seeing my stress translated into numbers like this was a rude awakening. I realized I had to change the way I managed my stress.

Daily Detox

What I did was a game-changer and made me feel better and happier. The daily detox that I did wasn’t the expensive kind that you buy at the store. My daily detox was free. This mindfulness and self-compassion cleanse allowed me to discern what was good for me and what was not. There are simple ways to do this detox every day.

Here are two ways to get started.

  1. Mindfulness: Increase your self-awareness by being in tune with your body. Notice who or what causes tension to your body. Scan your body and recognize where you hold your stress. Learning how your body responds to stress or any negativity will help you take healthier actions to soothe your stress. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is by taking deep breaths. Next time you feel your body tightening from too much pressure, stop and take some much-needed breaths.
  1. Self-compassion: Give yourself permission to be human when you get caught up with everyone’s negativity. You are only human, and it happens to everyone. When you notice yourself feeling angry or frustrated, stop and label the emotions that you are feeling. This is a great way to shift from feeling badly to feeling better. Treat yourself like your own best friend; you will be happy that you did.

It is Possible

While it’s impossible to live without negativity in this world, it is possible to deal with it in healthier ways that will give you more control and happiness in your life. I invite you to try this “Daily Detox” to help you feel lighter during the difficult and heavy times.

Extra Support

If you need coaching support to help you with the “Daily Detox” contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com . I also suggest getting my new book, The Happiness Result, More time, More health, More love, More success. This book is a combination of self-help, science, and the power of your intuition to help you gain the happiness you are looking for. Click here to get your copy.

More on Mindfulness and Difficult People

Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to a particular experience without judgment. It is a science that has a wide range of benefits for many people in all walks of life. It has been proven to help people with physical, mental, and emotional stress. People of any age can certainly benefit from what mindfulness offers. I have taught mindfulness to many groups, such as corporations, hospitals, colleges, and wellness centers. The practice of mindfulness is helpful to everyone. It has helped me cope with my stress and I know it can help you too.

FAIRY (1)

The Practice is a Powerful Attractor

Mindfulness has a way of centering and calming not only ourselves but also those around us. One thing I have experienced and witnessed with many mindfulness practitioners is a great magnetism. This attraction has the ability to draw people towards you. People will be drawn to your positive vibes and feel supported and grounded from it.

Mindfulness Emergency Manual

This article aims to operationalize basic mindfulness techniques in order to help you apply them. Allow the techniques to be your mindfulness emergency manual when dealing with difficult individuals. The techniques have been highly effective for me and those of whom I have taught in my mindfulness workshops. While there are many different techniques that will be discussed here, please note that the application of all of the techniques can happen simultaneously and not necessarily in order. Operationalizing the steps is helpful when learning to apply them to situations that are different from the usual peaceful setting of your meditation space.

The Physical State

Being in our peaceful and powerful state is beneficial when we encounter others who want to use us as their sounding board and verbal punching bag. As mentioned in my previous article published on HuffingtonPost.com on March 7th, 2016, mindfulness can be used quite effectively when dealing with difficult people. There are 4 simple mindfulness practices that can help you stay in control of your actions in the moment and can also soothe the irate person. The person will be calmed and will leave feeling heard and satisfied.

These techniques purposely alter the physical state from feeling stressed to feeling strong. They are Mindful Body, Mindful Breathing, Mindful Listening, and Mindful Seeing. These are what I call Phase One of using mindfulness with difficult people. To learn more about these mindfulness techniques, I invite you to read my March 2016 article called: Mindfulness and Difficult People.

More Mindfulness Techniques

Phase One consists of the 4 basic mindfulness techniques that can subtly shift your stance from victim to victor. In most cases these are enough to help diffuse an uncomfortable confrontation. If however, you are having little to no progress, use the following mindfulness techniques to help you. This is what I call Phase Two. Phase Two is made of 2 mindfulness techniques that involve verbal dialogue that occurs in our mind and comes out of our mouth. They are mindful thoughts and mindful communication.

The Phase Two techniques are:

1. Thoughts– Mindful thoughts is a technique where we purposely self-monitor and challenge our negative emotions and thoughts. Using mindful thoughts avoids harmful thoughts from hijacking our mental and emotional state. These unwanted thoughts can be set off by any perceived threat from a situation, preconceived ideas and prejudices that can derail us from being fully present in the moment. In other words, our thoughts can lead us down a negative spiral of doom and gloom that may keep us from being calm and in control of our actions and the situation.

When you feel that your thoughts are being clouded by such ideas, do a quick check. Ask yourself if what you are thinking is really so. If the answer is no, change that thought by engaging your mindful body and mindful breathing to get back to the present moment. During encounters with difficult people, it’s very important to stay in the present moment because that is where your power lies.

2. Communication– Mindful communication comes more easily after we have challenged and quieted our harmful thoughts. Mindful communication, done face to face, is a way of effectively communicating and confirming to difficult people. Doing this helps them know that you are actually with them and hearing their problems. Remember, people just want someone to listen to them and help them find the best solution to their problems.

Mindful communication is a combination of slow and deliberate dialogue with no judgment, and periods of silence to allow the difficult person to speak. Mindful communication uses proper tone and pacing to further convey a sense of concern and control of the situation.

Lastly, Safety First!

Always remember that your safety as well as the safety of others is of the utmost importance. Here are some reminders for you when dealing with difficult people anywhere and anytime. They are:
– Never hesitate to ask for help when dealing with difficult people.
– Never allow yourself to be cornered by difficult people.
– Never go anywhere alone with difficult people.
– Never turn your back on difficult people.
– Never take the encounter personally.

Being Calm, Clear, and Resourceful

Use mindfulness to help yourself remain calm, clear, and resourceful during any encounter with a difficult person. The sooner you can use mindfulness during any encounter the sooner you and the other person can move on in a positive way. If you have any other mindfulness techniques that have been effective in dealing with difficult people, please share them below.

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