|Frustration or You Can’t Always Get What You Want But You Can Be Cool With It.
Annoyed, frustrated, mad–this family of feelings is a territory of stress. This article gives you a simple tool to help you diffuse the annoyance, frustration or anger reaction and turn it into a more productive response. Over time people who have used this tool have reported becoming less frustrated, gaining clarity and making productive choices sooner. Physically, this translates into less headaches, tension and stress.
The Cupped Hands Gesture Tool:
In time you may notice you have more choices when you aren’t blaming the tire, the situation or another person for your reaction. As you use the cupped hands gesture to remind you of the mechanics of your frustration or anger, you’ll begin to get clarity sooner. You won’t even need all the thinking, just the gesture will remind you to explore accepting the unpleasant reality versus continuing to fight reality. “Yes, the tire is flat. I will miss the ferry. Now what? Fix the flat. Look for a camp ground. Take ferry tomorrow.” (This is a true story. It was fantastic not to get bent out of shape because the current reality wasn’t what I wished it was. The day wasn’t ruined. It was different.)
Step 1: Wake up in the moment and identify the feeling. “I am frustrated.”
Step 2: Take one hand and make a cup gesture in front of you. That hand holds the current reality or situation like “The tire is flat.” Say the current reality as simply as you can.
Step 3: Do the same gesture in the other hand and fill it with what you wish was true like “I wish the tire wasn’t flat.”
Step 4: Clarify–I am frustrated because I wish the tire wasn’t flat. The flat tire isn’t what is making me frustrated. Frustration is the feeling of my wishing for a different reality than the one that is. (If you don’t quite see it like this or find yourself saying,”But...” see the In-depth section below.)
Step 5: Make a choice based on the current unpleasant but actual reality.
Why the Gesture:
In my teaching I am using gestures as shorthand for complex ideas with excellent results. Initially, a person needs to clarify and understand an issue or problem. That is what LearningMethods™ does brilliantly. Applying the clarity is what people do on their own. It is what makes real change. People used to find it hard to remember the new clarity in the heat of a moment. The gesture approach seems to help people apply a new complex idea in the moment they need it. It is a powerful tool for changing habitual reactions and embodying a new way of seeing reality.
See In-depth section for more information
Dog Training by Christine Albert Carnes, Veterinarian
In the August 2011 Stones in Water Journal, Babette wrote about singers studying with her: that after a session they frequently would describe what they learned as “hold my body in this new way.” It was, Babette described, a common response, but not quite the one she was looking for. What she really seeks is for a student to understand how her body works, so she can accurately interpret her sensations and make useful choices rather than just impose some new rule without knowledge or criteria. It comes down to getting to know yourself. That really got my attention, because it is advice that probably applies to everyone, in every field of endeavor.
Mine is dog training, and this is the story of how “Stones in Water” ideas apply to my work. There are many sources of dog training information: books, television, classes all give you pointers on the mechanics of how to get a sit, a spin, a loose-leash walk and a host of other skills. Some are gentle to the dog, some not so much so, but even among the kind ones, very few take into consideration what I consider the actual starting point of successful dog training: how does this dog feel? How is the relationship between you and your dog at any given moment? In order to be in a place where learning can occur, a dog must first feel safe. Can you tell when your dog feels safe?
Imagine this scenario: a young pup is put in the car (which may be scary if she hasn’t gone on many car rides), brought to a strange facility, and into a room with a bunch of other dogs and people. And THEN she is asked to do the hardest intellectual work she has ever been asked to do and her people are annoyed when she doesn’t get it right fast enough. Now imagine this instead: the dog training instructor sends you instructions before class ever starts that read: figure out what high-value treats are for this dog. Then take the dog out on a leash. Allow her to check out her world, but the moment she glances at you, say “yes” and give her 15 of those high-value treats, one at a time. Disengage, let her check out her world, and repeat. As time goes by you can use fewer treats, but you always want to reward heavily. Do not make kissy sounds, call the dog or otherwise nag the dog. You are waiting for an offer of attention from her, and when it comes you are making sure it is the best idea she ever had. Practice this the week before class, in increments of about two minutes. Remember to ask yourself, “Can I tell when my dog is calm and feels safe? Can I tell when my dog is ready to learn”
I couldn’t tell you what your dog’s high-value treats are, or when you can switch from 15 treats to fewer, and how many fewer. Those are some of the “know thyself-know thy dog?” questions. But I can tell you this: treating the dog as if she is an intelligent creature, with options that might not include paying attention to you, respecting that, and making it worth her while to pay attention to you….all that begins a whole new adventure in dog training.
If training doesn’t feel smooth and easy then look to your dog. Are you attending the fundamentals? When you have the basics in place training feels wonderful!
Mechanics of Frustration or Revealing Your Perspective-Step 4
If Step 4 is unclear to you, I invite you to deconstruct frustration. Choose a simple situation when you are frustrated. Take apart the elements of the situation. Don’t believe what I am saying. See if you can tell what the elements of frustration are. Does it break down into:
Here’s my wish.
I want my wish to be reality or for reality to match my wish. Note what this idea feels like.
If you stop wishing reality to be different than it is, does your sensation change? Put another way: If you accept the unpleasant fact of the current reality does your response change. "This is reality. I don't like it. It is as it is at this moment." Insisting reality should be your wish, not what it actually is, equals frustration. Accepting the unpleasant fact isn't joyous, but it does let you stop fighting reality so you can deal with reality as it is. It allows you to stop blaming, kicking or shouting...
At the moment of frustration your perspective is wanting reality to be what you wish it was. Your response is to your perspective or idea, not to reality. On your own it can be challenging to see your perspective. Your perspective often feels like truth; perspective is hard to see. Your thoughts and ideas seem like reality. Can you see a thought or idea as just that? “This is my thought, my idea, my perspective, my framework, my filter.(there are many words for this).” It is like deboning a fish, you make a little separation between you and your thinking in a moment of emotion. You begin to see that emotion is the sensation of your thought–it is one coordination of your being. Your chemistry, your structure, your thinking, feeling is all one coordination. For convenience we divide ourselves up into mind, body, emotion, but we are not divided in our functioning. This is the heart of LearningMethods™ which is NOT about having any particular state of being. It is just the opposite. It is about letting yourself have any reaction and learning from it. You learn to understand your reaction, you understand yourself, how you work and how you are navigating the world. You don't have to improve your reaction, just understand it. Improvement or change happens from understanding.
This article is not advocating never getting angry or frustrated. Reactions are the way your system is designed to show you HOW YOU ARE SEEING THE WORLD. They are essential for navigating life. If you don’t like how you are feeling or in other words, the sensation of your perspective, find out what your perspective is. Usually when there is an unpleasant sensation the problem isn’t in the reality it is in the perspective you have; this is hopeful because perspectives are easier to change than reality.
At the VoiceCare workshops this summer the cupping gesture became a kind of wake-up game. We used it to help each other. So when someone sang and it didn’t come out the way they wished and they got frustrated, someone else would do gesture with one hand and say "Reality"; gesture with the other and say, "Wish". The annoyed person would laugh and say, “Oh yeah! I’m wishing.” Suddenly he was with reality and simply sang again or made an observation that could help with the next time.
One of the most common locations for frustration is in dysfunctional workplaces. Using LearningMethods I’ve worked with many people to navigate such situations. In essence the work helps you stay as healthy and functioning as you can even in challenging situations. The cupped hand gesture is only one step, there are certainly other tools for other stresses.
Would you like to host or attend a Wholeness in Motion™ Immersion Weekend?
I am excited to announce a new Immersion Course format for Wholeness in Motion™. You can bring the workshop to your area, group of friends, institution or workplace. As a host you take the workshop for free. Please contact me for more details. Register for the autumn or winter workshop in Minneapolis and get the early registration discount.
"The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve but a reality to experience." Frank Herbert
Wholeness in Motion™ is designed to:
• Deepen your access to your innate intelligence and freedom.
• Help you translate the sensations and signals your system is always sending you into a language you can understand and use for your well-being and performance
Wholeness in Motion™ is:
• A methodology based on the most current understanding of how the human system is designed to function.
• About discovering how you work not about learning some technique called Wholeness in Motion™
Come to this course and:
Feel free and strong.
Reveal your wholeness of being.
Function with the universe.
Ignite your presence.
Taste the miracle of your system.
Be in touch with your system.
Recognize and stop interferences.
Identify your innate warning signals.
Listen to these signals.
Let the “right” thing do itself.
Allow your system to work for you.
Apply the methodology to your current practices like Yoga, running or making music.
If you stop eating poison you'll feel better. You don’t have to try to be better; you just stop eating the poison.
For more information including curriculum, goals and sample schedule click on link below:
Enjoy a 15% Autumn Discount on a series of six sessions with Babette Lightner in the Minneapolis or River Falls studio or by phone. Register for the series before October 1st to get the discount.
She can help you reduce tension, change pain and stress patterns, improve performance and understand how you work.
She brings together Alexander Technique, Anatomy of Wholeness™, LearningMethods™ and 25 years experience helping people change unhealthy habits and movement patterns.