Donna Joy Ford, one of our heart leader’s shares her choice to live slow and quiet after recognising she wasn’t as calm as she believed in her life’s chaos.
Internal vs external chaos: choosing quiet and slow
After being diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy two years ago, Donna realised that she had normalised new levels of stress she was experiencing.
“I had previously experienced anxiety and depression, and found I was outwardly minimising the negative effect it was having on my life, in order to make those around me feel better. I may have been feeling the chaos internally, but I appeared calm to those around me. That was some time ago. Now, I believed I had learnt to deal with my chaos and was now handling life around me well.
But, Bell’s palsy presents itself externally/physically in the form of facial paralysis, and is often a result of stress. I had to discover a new level of centring and calm.’
Donna highlights the importance of finding one’s own centre and sense of calm internally rather than making one’s calm dependent on someone else’s emotional state.
Imagery as a technique for centring
An effective technique for centring yourself is to develop imagery that resonates with your own sense of truth, which you can draw on mentally at any time, to bring yourself back to a sense of calm. Whether it it Gandalf from Lord of The Rings standing steadfast with his staff whilst chaos and flying objects surround him (Donna’s personal image) or a tree that is rooting deep into the ground while also reaching tall into the sky (Candice’s image of choice), using your own image to bring yourself to the present moment, to your own reality is a quick way to remind the body that you are safe.
The Benefits of aligning with one’s centre
When we remain centred and rooted in a personal truth we are able to respond in the moment without letting our attention get drawn into the chaos surrounding our calm.
Brene Brown’s teachings in The Gifts of Imperfection, with which Donna leads some of her workshops, say that there is a difference between stillness and calm. We need to practice stillness (through meditation/yoga/writing etc) in order to more easily cultivate a sense of calm.
If we can be still, we can live more in the present and connect with the calmness within, where we become aware of our priorities.
Tools for accessing the awareness required to cultivate calm and choice
- The Enneagram
- FOG method (A Map to Practice EQ)
The Enneagram is a self-awareness assessment that can be useful for any group dynamic or for working on one’s personal development. It helps us to recognise what is separate from our truth; which programmed responses/survival patterns of behaviour we make use of. Turning our awareness to these patterns allows us to question ourselves in the moments before we react habitually to situations, so that we can choose to respond from a place of calm.
Questions you can use to challenge your own behaviour patterns are:
- What am I feeling? (make use of Byron Katie’s emotions list link)
- What do I want to do next?
Another method for navigating through potentially chaotic confrontations, especially within families and long term relationships where our responses and behaviour patterns are more deeply embedded, is the FOG method (Map to Practice EQ Episode 33 explains in further detail). The FOG method encourages us to express feelings, explore options and set goals in order to move forward through difficult situations/confrontations.
Perhaps the simplest tool of all, which really is our biggest support in life, is the breath. When overwhelm threatens your calm, take 5 deep breaths, in and out through the nose, to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
- More about Donna and her Contact Details
- Follow Donna on Facebook
- Emotions List
- Follow One Belief at a Time
- Contact Candice Dick for a facilitated session of The Work
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