The S.T.U.C.K. Method

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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Stuck on It’s YOUR Fault!

Monday afternoons are challenging for me.

I drive my kids to various extra-curricular activities, drop one kid off here, drop another kid off there, do a food shop in between, pick one kid up and then pick the other kid up and then finally head home.

It’s quite exhausting and by the time we return home it’s nearly 7 pm.

When I walk into the house with my packages, it’s never quite clear if my other two children, who stayed home with my husband, ate dinner or not.

Last night, I came home famished and noticed there was no dinner on the table.

I asked my husband if he could make a salad which he generously agreed to.

As I was putting the groceries away, I heard my husband tell the kids the salad was ready, but no one came to the island to eat.

“I don’t think anyone wants to eat,” he said to me.

“Great,” I responded. “A quiet dinner just the two of us.”

We just started eating when our five-year old approached the island and started bouncing up and down yelling, “I want salad! I want salad!”

“OK,” I responded, “So sit down!”

But, he kept bouncing.

20160216_063551 - CopyAnd then inadvertently hit his head on the corner of the island.

Agh!

He started to scream.

And so did I.

I turned to my husband and whined, “Why did you say the kids don’t want to eat?”

Dumbfounded, he responded defensively, “What’s the connection between whether or not the kids came to the table and the fact that Amir just hit his head? Are you trying to blame me for Amir getting hurt?”

Feeling the situation escalating, I responded in an extremely calm voice, “You don’t need to yell at me.”

“But, why do you do that?” he continued to insist.

And all during this exchange, our son was still screaming and receiving no attention.

So, I turned to him, gave him some ice and a big hug.

He calmed down within seconds, climbed up to his bar stool, and began eating.

But, my husband and I weren’t done with the scene.

“Can we talk about what just happened?” my husband initiated.

“No, I’d rather not talk right now,” I replied.

“Well, I’d like to talk about it,” he insisted.

Frustrated with his insistence, I stopped and quickly thought about it. I told myself I was stuck on frustration. I uncovered one belief: Because my husband did not insist that all our children come to the table, Amir hit his head. I checked on my belief and realized it wasn’t 100% accurate. In fact, it was far from the truth.  I considered that the incident had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not my husband insisted our children eat with us and I considered I was wrong for blaming my husband for it.

“Look. I got stuck. I’m sorry. Can we move on with our lives?” I pleaded.

“Ah. An apology. It’s all I wanted to hear,” he said.

Hmph.

And then I began to cry right into my bowl of salad.

Not because of my husband’s behavior, but because I was mad at myself when, in the heat of the moment, I forgot to pause.

To stop immediately when I get triggered.

Then I remembered I forgot “K”.

So, in that moment, I held myself in compassion and told myself that it was OK I got stuck on frustration in the first place and that while I have the best intentions to slow down my lightning fast reactivity, I don’t always succeed because I’m not perfect.

With that, I became grateful my husband accepted my apology and grateful for having the tools to be able to get unstuck and move on with my life and with mindful well-being.

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Stuck on We Need a Little Orange in Our House

On Sunday night, I facilitated a S.T.U.C.K. workshop.

We met in a friend’s home on the kibbutz and convened in her living room around the wood-burning stove.

20160120_172722I happen to love meeting in this person’s house.

The environment is cozy, welcoming, and warm.

When the workshop ended and the participants left, I found myself lingering.

As the host and I chit-chatted, I mentioned how much I enjoy sitting in her living room.

Comparing her house to mine, I mentioned that there’s something about my home that just feels cold.

I mean, I know, it’s winter. It’s cold.

But, I mean the overall ambience of our house, specifically our living room feels cold having nothing to do with the temperature outside.

20160119_200943She responded, “Well, sure, you’re house is mostly in the blues. You need some more earthy colors to warm it up.  You need to add some orange.”

Yet, of course, orange. That’s what I need.

So, the next day I measured our windows and while out food shopping, I stopped at a home decor store and picked up some peachy colored curtains for our living room.

I thought it would be perfect for our house and that it would really warm up the living room and make it feel more cozy.

Tonight after dinner, I took the package of curtains and walked into the living room.

My husband asked me what was in the package.

“Well, you know, I was thinking. Our living room feels a little off-balanced color-wise. I think we need some orange and…”

“What about the red yoga mat on the floor?” he interrupted sarcastically.

Huh?

What the heck is he talking about?

What does a yoga mat have to do with anything?

Is my husband for real?

He had no idea what was in the package in my arms.

It could have been artwork.

It could have been a tablecloth.

It could have been a lampshades.

And yet he was being so negative!

He had no idea what I was going to say, but he did know that we didn’t need it.

God I hate when he does that.

But, I stopped.

I took a deep breath.

He’s triggering me again.

And I’m not gonna get triggered.

I think I can. I think I can.

I ignored my husband’s comic remark and went on with checking if these curtains would look good in the living room.

I took them out of the package and held them up to the windows.

But, he continued. “We don’t need curtains. Why are you being so stubborn? They’ll cover up the sun and light that comes through from the southern windows which we really enjoy. And curtains don’t even fit on bay windows. How do you think people are going to be able to sit there if curtains will be hanging on top of the seat?”

Hmph.

I was so stuck on frustration.

And my daughter noticed my frustrated face.

She came up to me and acknowledged my efforts. She told me she loved the curtains and she thanked me for caring about what our house looks like.

I love my daughter.

But, stuck, I knew I needed to “stop” again.

I left the scene.

I took out my S.T.U.C.K. workbook and walked into one of my kid’s rooms.

I sat down on the bed and started to process.

I wrote down my beliefs about this story and came up with new considerations.

But the time I reached “K”, I already felt the situation was resolved and that I was ready to move on.

And then, my husband walked into the room and sat down next to me.

He put his arm around me and apologized for speaking to me the way he did.

Thank God for my daughter. 

At least he listens to her!

Then, he looked over at my pad and paper and said, “What’s this?”

And he read out loud:

20160119_200654“Emotion – Frustration.”

“Is this about me?” he asked.

“He never listens,” he continued to read.

Which brought a smile to his face.

“He always interrupts.”

He started to giggle.

“He’s cheap.”

“Why am I cheap? I’m not cheap!” he said emphatically.

“He doesn’t care about, about… what does this say? I can’t read your handwriting. Oh, aesthetics.”

He let out a guffaw.

Which made me laugh in return.

And together, we couldn’t stop laughing.

It was really a funny moment.

Probably one of the funniest moments we’ve had together in a long time.

He tried to read my chicken scratch of considerations, but he couldn’t make them out.

It didn’t matter that I wrote that maybe he was right that the curtains wouldn’t fit on a bay window, or that orange curtains won’t necessarily make me happier, or that I just caught him by surprise (which made him stuck!) and that we could actually move on with my curtain idea as long as we discussed it together – like a partnership.

I chose one of those considerations and got out of the muck.

And for me, the cherry on top was, he apologized!

There is a God!

I got stuck on desire.

It happens.

I often times get stuck on believing that my desires will lead to happiness, but after processing through them I’m able to see the broader picture.

That desires are impermanent and that they cannot bring me to happier place than I already am.

Because happiness is something that comes from within.


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Stuck on a Revelation in 2015

What triggers you?

C’mon, we all have triggers.

What’s yours?

You know.

triggerThat person or thing that just presses your buttons.

Sets you off.

Makes you want to scream!

Or react in ways that are not the real you.

The calm you.

The nice you.

The perfect you.

 

So.

Nu?

Who or what is your trigger?

I just want to share with you a revelation I had this morning while on my yoga mat.

Frustration began to arise in me as I started thinking about a recent personal conflict that I had with my husband the day before.

I became frustrated not regarding the conflict itself, but rather that I was triggered by the my husband again!

Because it’s not that I get triggered often.

It’s that I get triggered by him regularly.

Like same sh*t, different day.

And it’s not that I don’t love him.

Nor is that I don’t admire or respect him.

And it’s not like I don’t trigger him.

I’m sure I do.

I know I do.

But, I get triggered by him over and over again and that’s really frustrating!

Because, like, why am I allowing myself to get triggered by him?

Why can’t I just learn to stop getting triggered by him?

I was really stumped by this for a few moments.

And then it dawned on me that I could be using my husband as an opportunity to practice.

Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding!

“Ladies and Gentleman, I think we have a winner!”

Wow.

How did I never think of this before?

That my triggers, which I’ve always viewed as a constant obstacles in my life, can actually be viewed as my greatest opportunities.

My GREATEST opportunities.

To practice STOPPING (and then continue on with the S.T.U.C.K. process).

As soon as I get triggered.

Because, in life, we never know when we will get triggered.

It just happens spontaneously.

But, if you know what you get triggered by most, you can acknowledge that trigger as your practice!

Your life practice!

Wow.

What a revelation.

This will be huge in my life.

HUGE.

And the moment all of this came to mind, it brought a huge smile to my face.

Because I realized that I no longer need try to avoid my triggers or be frustrated by them.

Instead, I can be open to them.

In fact, I somehow feel that I’d like to even seek them out.

Invite them into my life.

Like, C’mon triggers.

I’m here!

And ready to practice!

So, give me your best hit!

And while I have your attention, may I say thank you for existing in my life?

You are a gift to me.

And for that I am grateful.

In 2015.


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Stuck on a Double Whammy

Last week was winter vacation from school in Israel.

In the past few years, I filled each day of vacation with some sort of fun family-packed event for my kids such as hikes, museums, and festivals. And, as a member of the Israeli National Park system, I’ve been taking my kids to as many as those historical and archeological sites as possible.

And these vacation days are great times to do just that.

But this year, with the recent rise of terrorism and the near-death accident we were in a few weeks ago, I kind of wanted to keep a low profile for the week.

In fact, I didn’t really want to leave the house at all.

I kind of just wanted to sit home and work on writing my book, to be honest.

So, we didn’t go anywhere.

On the first day of vacation, my boys jumped out of bed at dawn (my teenage daughter sleeps in) and screamed, “No school! Yippee!”

They danced around the living room and did hula hoops in their pajamas.

(Makes me kind of wonder, “Is school really that bad?”)

Anyway, after a few more hurrahs and a quick breakfast, the kids asked, “So, what are we doing today?”

“Uh, nothing?” I responded.

“Why?” they quickly retorted.

“Well, because,” I stammered, “we have no plans for this vacation.”

“So, what are we supposed to do?”

Oy vey!

“I don’t know,” I grumbled.

“Find something to do. Play a game. Clean your room. Practice your guitar. Go for a walk.”

They all looked at me quizzically.

Apparently those were not good ideas.

And they had a better one.

Like wrestling on the floor.

Because what else do three young boys do with their free time?

And, in the meantime, I turned on the computer and started compiling the blog posts that would go under the chapter in my book named “Stuck on Desire”.

But, the wrestling only lasted for about ten minutes because invariably one of the kids got hurt in the head.

“It was his fault!” one said.

“But, he started!” the other griped.

“Now what can we do?” they whined.

“We’re bored!” they moaned.

Starting to lose my patience, I responded, “Go up to the basketball court. And don’t forget to take your ball!”

“But, no one is there!” they continued to whine.

“Everyone is on vacation!  Except for us!”

Guilt trip.

“Can we go on the computer?”

“NO! You cannot go on the computer at 8 AM.  You can go on the computer in the afternoon and you know each of your has a time limit on it anyway. GO. FIND. SOMETHING. TO. DO!”

And as for me, back to writing.

Now, what was I thinking about a minute ago?

Sh*t.

I lost it.

And it was such a good thought!

Agh.

And so went my vacation.

I got frustrated with my kids.

And frustrated that I was stuck home with them.

And stuck on wanting to anything other than be stuck in the house with them.

I just wanted to write.

And in the between my kids’ screaming and hollering and whining, I found myself going to the kitchen.

Mindless EatingFor a handful of this and a handful of that.

A latke here.

A jelly doughnut there.

And somehow, between trying to find something for these kids to do and writing down a fragment in my book, I kept returning to the kitchen.

Apparently, all I wanted to do was eat!

I must have been so hungry!

At one point, I almost ate the entire refrigerator!

It was obvious I was stuck on a desire to eat.

Or was there something more hiding behind that?

Somehow the morning passed and in the afternoon when the kids sat down for computer time, I went to my bedroom, lay on my yoga mat, and focused on my breath.

One inhalation, one exhalation.

Two inhalation, two exhalation.

The thought of, “Get off this mat, Shira, and go down for some hot chocolate,” came to mind a few times.

Three inhalation, three exhalation.

My belly felt full.

Overfull.

Which is when I realized that I wasn’t even hungry at all.

And, I wasn’t even hungry then.

All those times that I kept returning to the kitchen for more food wasn’t out of true hunger.

I was eating out of some other emotion.

And it dawned on me that I was eating out of my unsatisfied desire for wanting to work.

(Yes, the irony.  Most people in this world are seeking vacation and here I am desiring to work.)

Four inhalation, four exhalation.

I did a progressive relaxation exercise throughout my body.

And noticed my furrowed eyebrows.

Which I released.

I thought about the concept of needing to work on this book.

And how my kids are just taking away from that precious time.

Five inhalation, five exhalation.

I considered that I don’t really need to work on this book right now.

It can wait.

But my kids can’t.

They’re growing up before my eyes and now is the time to be with them.

After a few more breaths, I got up from my mat and reunited with my kids.

“Who wants to go wall climbing?” I asked.

“Me! Me! Me! Me!” they cried. (My daughter woke up by then.)

And so, we did.

I was reluctant to get into the car, but I did so anyway because my kids were anxious to wall climb.

And, I wanted to be with them.

I got stuck on desire (twice!), but it’s OK.

I am grateful I was able to see past both of them, save my body from any more harm that I already caused it, and savor the rest of the vacation with my kids.


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STUCK on You Call Yourself CUSTOMER SUPPORT?

I work for a research company.

One of my jobs is to program surveys.

If the survey is straight forward, it doesn’t require too much thinking on my end.

But, sometimes it gets complicated.

If respondent answers “Yes” to Q2, then he should skip to Q4.

If respondent answers “Yes” to Q2 and “No” to Q4, then he shouldn’t see Page 5.

If respondent answers to being a “teacher”, he should not see Q25.

But, if respondent answers to bring a “teacher” AND he answers that he works “in a day school”, then he should see Q25.

if-then-else-1The logical person that I am, I actually enjoy and feel challenged by some of these algorithms.

To me, they are fun!

Until they don’t work.

At which point it can turn into one big headache.

Yesterday, I was programming one of those challenging surveys for a conference that was currently taking place and ending on Thursday evening.

I felt under pressure to get my work done and have the survey ready to be sent out.

But, “Q16” wasn’t working.

It was supposed to appear only if in “Q15” the respondent answered anything but “not at all”.

But, it wasn’t working.

I checked my logic 1,000 times.

I had it right.

What was going on?

I wrote an email to Support and within minutes they phoned me back.

Thank G-d for Support.

The man who called sounded genuinely happy to help me resolve the issue.

“Let me just take a look. Give me a minute.”

“Sure,” I responded gratefully.

After a minute, he told me to check his work, but it still wasn’t working.

“Nope. Still not working,” I said.

“Oh. Give me another minute.”

So, I hung on, though I started to feel worried.

I hung on for something like three more minutes.

“Ok. Now try it.”

I did.

Still not working.

What is going on here?

Does he not know what he’s doing?

“Let me call you back, ok?”

Fine.

Call me back.

As for assistance on your end, please and get back to me when it’s fixed, will ye?, I said to myself.

I tried to remain patient, but felt myself getting more upset.

He called back five minutes later.

I checked his work.

Not only was Q16 not working, he screwed up the rest of the logic on that page!

Q14, Q15, Q16 and Q17 were not working as programmed!

AGH!!!!!!!

“WHAT. DID. YOU. DO?????? You. messed. up. all. my. work!!!!!!!!” I said in a not so nice manner.

Oh boy, was I stuck.

On frustration.

It’s now or never to process through it.

20151026_050542Stop. I took a deep, long breath.

T Tell. I am stuck on f.r.u.s.t.r.a.t.i.o.n.!!!!!

UUncover. My beliefs?  That support should SUPPORT! That this guy who called me is probably a rookie.  That this really shouldn’t be so complicated to fix. That he shouldn’t have messed up my work!!!!

CConsider. As I began to recognize that my beliefs weren’t entirely true, I was able to consider that:

  • I should be grateful that there is even such a thing called SUPPORT and that someone was available to help the moment I needed it.
  • This guy is on my side. He’s doing his best to help me, not hurt me.
  • He probably has more experience than I’m giving him credit for.
  • That within five minutes tops, he’ll probably figure it out.

KAs I took all of those new beliefs on, he called back within another two minutes saying he thought it finally fixed it.

I checked.

He did.

I knew he would.  😉

I thanked him for his patience.

He thanked me for mine.

I got stuck on frustration, but it’s not the first time.

It’ll happen again.

It’s OK.

I’m just grateful I didn’t hold onto it for too long.


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Stuck on My Plan, Not Yours!

Two days ago my family and I set out for a vacation weekend to the Dead Sea.

MasadaAmong many other activities, climbing Masada was on our list of things to do.

The day before we left, I was told (was kindly asked?) to pack us all up and have us ready to go by 2 PM on Thursday afternoon.

Which was fine.

I don’t really mind packing up 5 of the 6 of us. (My husband packs his stuff on his own.)

It was only two nights anyway.

And we weren’t camping.

Which makes things a lot easier.

So, besides the mandatory stuff (clothes, bathroom items, etc.), I made sure to pack one small backpack per family member, one hat, and one bottle of water.

And the reason I did this, which is an important piece of information in this story, is because on our last family hike, we didn’t go prepared.

We didn’t bring enough water.

We got dehydrated.

And, I’ll spare you the rest of the details.

***************

Now, I’m one who likes (and strives) to learn from history.

(At least, my personal history).

So, as we were about to leave the youth hostel that we slept at the night before and head to the Masada National Park, I did a quick check.

6 Hats? Check.

6 Bags? Check.

6 Bottles of Water?

Nope.

Only 4.

Where were the other two?

“Who knows?” was the response I got.

Oy.

So, I said to my husband, “Well, we’ll just have to stop and pick up two more bottles on the way.”

He didn’t agree.

Four bottles were enough in his mind.

But, not in my mind.

Among other things, this certainly wasn’t going to teach the kids a lesson on how to be responsible when hiking!

(Yes, even my 4 year old, who hikes with a bottle in his bag that he’s carrying on his back, understands the value of water.)

This was not going as planned.

The plan my husband insisted that I take responsibility for.

And I wasn’t the least bit happy.

I mean, really.

What’s the big deal about picking up two more bottles of water?

Was it a money issue?

Was it a principle issue?

I didn’t get it.

I tried.

I insisted he explain to me why he was being so stubborn about this.

He said if we add up the total number of liters we had it was enough.

But, I couldn’t hear that.

We just bickered.

Back and forth.

In front of the kids.

It was kind of ugly.

And not such a great way to start the morning.

I was stuck on stubborn.

(Well, he was stuck, too, but that’s not my problem.  My problem is dealing with my own stuckiness, not his or anyone else’s.)

And, after one of my kids insisted we go for marriage therapy, I…

20151026_050542

Stopped and took a breath.

T Told myself how I was feeling.  Completely frustrated.

UUncovered what was going on.  The history and trauma of our last family hike.

CConsidered another perspective.  Well, the whole purpose of each person carrying his/her own water bottle was to teach responsibility.  But, the truth of the matter is, what I was really concerned about was having enough water.  And, my husband was right. When we added up the total number of liters we had (we brought some large bottles with us) we had more water than if we had just each brought 6 regular-sized bottles on our own.  And, really the hike wasn’t a big deal.  Only about one hour up.  And, I knew there were water taps at the top to do refills.

KAnd once I was able to see this, I let go.

Fine, we’ll go with four bottles that we have instead of six.  Next time, I’ll try to plan even more efficiently.

And I reminded myself that it’s oK that I got stuck on my plan in the first place.


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STUCK on a Baby’s Name

No.  Not mine, thank you very much.

Been there.

Done that.

I’m talking about friends of mine.

Who just had a baby girl.

And, for their baby naming ceremony, I wanted to give them a gift.

A song.

A new tune – specifically with the baby’s name in it.

That could be sung at the ceremony, but also could be kept with them forever and remembered as a gift from our kibbutz community.

You see, this couple is not an ordinary couple.

They are the ones that bring ruach (spirit) to our prayer services.

The husband, Dr. Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels, is the founder and guiding teacher of Or HaLev – A center for Jewish spirituality and meditation in Israel.

The wife, Debbie, regularly leads our community in prayer filled with joy and song.

And, I am indebted to them for who they are and what they give to our community.

So, I thought it would be perfect to give back something to them.

To let them receive a bit of what they have been giving to all of us for the past six years.

But, there was one problem.

They had no name for the baby.

And they said they may only choose the name the morning of the ceremony.

Which left me with nothing to work with.

Because without a name, how could I possibly create something that could be meaningful enough for such an occasion?

I was stuck on utter disappointment.

********************

So, I…

20151026_050542Stopped and took a breath.

TTold myself what I was feeling and acknowledged my disappointment in this opportunity.

U

Checked what may have been Underneath all of this: Perhaps feelings around “no good deed goes unpunished”?  I feel like this theme follows me around my life sometimes.

C

And considered if I could Choose another perspective.  Yes, of course I could. I realized I didn’t have to create a song with the baby’s name in it and instead choose words from one of our traditional prayers and create a tune around that. A tune that could possibly later be introduced into our regular prayer services.  That Debbie or James would lead, of course.

I realized could offer this as my gift rather than the one I had in mind.

The one I was stuck on.

And so, I did.  I created a chant using the words from our morning prayers which speak about G-d’s great love and great compassion that He has for us.

And you know what?

It worked.

I created a beautiful tune.

And the song offering that morning was not only well received, it was fun!

And I felt complete with this gift to them.

K

And, I reminded myself that it was oK that I got stuck on needing a baby’s name to create the perfect gift in the first place.