Your brain knows your name. The millions of times you hear your name and respond to it have created a speedy neural pathway that has become a shortcut at receiving information.
When I am working with students who are having big feelings – frustration, overwhelm,, anxiousness or angry – they are often unaware of what is happening in their own body. Sometimes supporting these students means I simply mirror back what I notice.
Your hands are shaking.
Your two eyebrows meet in a straight line.
Your eyes are facing the floor.
You look uncomfortable in your own skin, you can’t stop moving.
Your ears look hot and red.
Your breathing is shallow.
Your shoulders are curled in.
You are having a big feeling. Can you tell me what it is?
Feelings are inherently a body response. We experience our feelings throughout our body. It isn’t just something that happens in your head. It is enormously valuable to be aware of all of your body responses that are associated with a feeling.
It may take a bit of unpacking to see what is underneath the big feeling, but step one is simple. Notice what is happening in your body and name it. Say it out loud so that you can hear yourself acknowledge it.
We help children notice their physical responses to big feelings but we can help ourselves and our loved ones do the same thing. The more we do this, the better we get at noticing our feelings. The better we are at noticing our own feelings, the better we get at helping those around us do the same.
This is one of those skills that falls under the category of “easy to learn, hard to master” but it is well worth mastering. As soon as you can focus on your body responses, the wisdom of your feelings will slowly become available to you. And that is where the magic happens.