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Returning to a Gathered Place

Seven Steps for “Quick Gathering of Self”

How do you “get over” someone being a complete and totally offensive JERK to you? When you encounter demeaning, hostile or generally hateful people, it ruins your mood, can ruin your day, and causes upheaval to your sense of well-being. You can feel angry, disgusted, frustrated. You can feel insecure, embarrassed, and confused. Your heart rate increases. You teeter between wanting to go toe to toe just to show them you have power too and retreating to distance yourself from the way their irresponsible behavior has made you feel. I totally get it! But, one changes your temperament and the other fuels insecurity. Plus…life doesn’t stop because someone treated us like crap. That is the lesser unfortunate part. Most of the time, we will have responsibilities we must continue to attend to after what I refer to as a hostile engagement. But, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take a few moments to help our collective selves compute…and then repair.

Until you have an opportunity to change the dynamic, here are some pointers to help you get through the disruptive moment, day, or person. The scenarios are endless. Maybe the hostile engagement is with an angry family member, an unhappy neighbor, a coworker or someone on the subway car. Maybe it is a mate or your child. There are times in our lives when we will all be the hostile party. Human beings have a distinct ability to wound those around us with something as simple as a careless word or neglectful interaction. When the hostile engagement is over, leaving you in a tornado of emotions, use this short list to help you calm down, gather yourself and step back out into your world. Disclaimer: Anytime someone mistreats you or makes you feel less than, it is abusive behavior. This list can be a quick “how to” for those managing the fallout of feelings left after an argument, verbal attack or any variety of situations we become enveloped in as relational human beings. What I am not providing is a “how to” deal and stay in an abusive relationship. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, please reach out. The number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Seven Steps for “Quick Gathering of Self”

1) Sit or lie down. Find a quiet, still place where you can close your eyes and recognize what you are feeling. It can be anywhere, but it should be somewhere other than where the hostile encounter took place.

2) Allow yourself to acknowledge that this person or situation has injured you. Give what you felt appropriate language. It hurt, angered, disappointed or frustrated you. You felt _____(fill in the blank). Allow the language to be past tense. The goal here is to recognize the feelings while not diminishing them, but also not remaining in them.

3) With your eyes closed, take full account of your body. Imagine a soft blue light, scanning head to toe, assessing the tension of every muscle. As the light makes its way past the areas that are held tense, allow them to release. Much stress is carried in the jaw, neck, shoulders and back. Let your shoulders drop and your head to fall backward. Continue to mentally scan your body until you feel physical release of tightened muscles.

4) Begin to take slow, deep breaths. First, try to focus only on the sound of the inhale and exhale. After several rhythmic breaths, tilt your head backward and expand your chest. Allow each deep breath to fill the space in your chest that has been highjacked by anxiety. Imagine that with every deep breath, your warm spirit is gently scooping up those anxious feelings. And with every slow exhale, it is carrying those feelings away from your heart where they dissipate outside of yourself. Continue this practice until you can visualize the job complete. Depending on the degree of feelings, this could take more or less time.

5) Before opening your eyes, tell yourself how the rest of your day will go and give yourself something to look forward to when your day is done. Use words that are encouraging and kind. Example: The rest of my day is going to be productive and bright. When my day is done, I will make myself a comforting dinner and relax with a movie.

6) Be aware of the hurt in the world around you. Look for an opportunity before days end to be kind to another person. A smile, a caring word, a gentle gesture, a helping hand…this is what changes the world. This will help restore you and will generate goodwill and compassion. There is a saying that Hurt people hurt people. While I believe this to be true, I believe kindness to be equally fluid and exponentially more impactful.

7) Take one last deep breath and open your eyes. Recognize that you have the power to gather yourself after a confrontation or frustrating situation. While you navigate the world of boundaries with these unruly individuals, recognize also that you have the power to establish and maintain rules of engagement. For those who cannot or will not play by the rules, this list will help you quickly return to a gathered place.  

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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