The Art of Checking In
How are you? Except I’m really asking. Beyond the respond-before-you-think reply of “good” or “fine.” How are you, really? We rarely give ourselves the chance to answer this question honestly when other people ask. How often do we check in with ourselves to get an accurate gauge of our internal world? The way we interpret our external world is largely dependent on our internal world. Knowing this, perhaps we should challenge ourselves to pause and give every “How are you?” a bit more thought and consideration. That’s typically all it takes- a moment to pause. This pause is just enough space to interrupt our tendency to speed through responses, interactions, or maybe even our day-to-day routines. Instead, we can cultivate a different tendency- a tendency toward caring for our internal environment, knowing that it has an outward impact.
So, let’s break down the power of the PAUSE, a process that can be done any time, anywhere. The more this is practiced, the easier and quicker it becomes.
P: Pause. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a moment to feel your feet on the floor and the sensation of your breath moving in and out. Notice any sounds happening around you. By connecting with some of our bodily sensations, we are essentially inviting ourselves to notice what’s happening right here, right now.
A: Ask (with curiosity). How am I? What’s going on for me? Are my shoulders tight? Am I holding tension anywhere in my body, and if I am, can I begin to let it go? Is there something I’m feeling stressed out about? Has something caught my attention and I can’t seem to shake it? Did something trigger me? What am I feeling? Excitement? Calm? Fear? Impatience? Indifference? Is there something deeper going on here?
U: Understand. Like sitting with a close friend, we ask with the intention to listen and understand what’s happening within us. When we listen with a quality of openness and receptivity, we give the judgmental side of us a break and make contact with our deeper experience. In that space that’s been created, our tension or feelings of being stuck can rise to the surface allowing them to be seen, heard, and ultimately released. In this moment we become aware of what may have been previously buried or ignored. By giving ourselves permission to feel how we feel, beyond the evaluation of good/bad or right/wrong, we are invited to connect with the honesty and depth of our own humanity.
S: Smile (at yourself). How can I meet this moment, myself, and what’s coming up with as much care and kindness as possible? Can I find an okayness with whatever experience I’m having? This is a good time to offer ourselves the support we might need, whether it’s a few deep refreshing breaths to reset your system, taking some extra space to allow yourself to be as you are, or doing something that feels nurturing for you. When we are kind and caring to ourselves, we are more equipped to take care of the people around us, and this builds a bridge for extending this kindness to others.
E: Express. If it’s appropriate to the situation, share what’s going on for you with the people that would benefit from hearing it. This could be your significant other, child, parent, roommate, co-worker, etc. Letting people into our world allows us to take responsibility for any negative behavior that may have occurred before we checked in with ourselves and make repairs where needed. Not only are we establishing vulnerability in our relationship with self-disclosure, we are modeling self-regulation and likely paving the road for open communication and further understanding.
Giving ourselves a moment to pause is an act of inspiring friendship and peace in our lives. If we find ourselves at odds with our external circumstances, we’re probably in need of a quick check-in. When we bring a sense of friendliness to ourselves and our internal circumstances, we are not only practicing inner peace, we are directly affecting the way we relate to our outer world.
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