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

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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STUCK on HAVING to ANSWER the PHONE

I’m not sure why I have this belief:

That if my house phone or my cell phone rings, I need to answer it.

I’m required to answer it.

answering the phone

It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of an activity:

Like working

or talking with my children

or eating

or driving

or doing yoga

or writing a blog post for that matter.

It the phone rings, I answer it.

I don’t stop to consider if it’s a convenient time for me to speak.

I don’t stop to consider how, by answering the phone in this very moment, I may react to the person on the other end.

I just answer it.

And, why do I do that?

Maybe because I feel like I owe it to the callers.

To be available to them.

At their beck and call.

Like I’m stuck on having to answer that damn phone.

(Even though I definitely don’t always feel this reciprocity in reverse situations.)

But, a friend of mine who was recently over at my house and noticed how I was stuck on answering the phone while we were in the middle of a conversation, helped me to realize that I could stop and choose another perspective.

That telephones can be viewed as impositions.

And that we don’t owe it to anyone to answer the phone at any given time during the day.

And that we can actually choose to say “no” to answering the phone,

and that we don’t have to feel badly that we would be, G-d forbid, insulting the caller by not answering at that exact moment (whether we can identify who the caller is or not).

Looking underneath this all, I’m guessing the root of this is just plain old desire (to please the caller)… desire, which appears a zillion others times in our lives everyday.

Like while eating:

The desire to finish what’s on your plate,

The desire for the next bite,

The desire to eat when others are eating,

The desire to eat dessert, even when you are full.

And so, in the framework of STUCK, I pause and breathe,

in order to be able to consider changing perspectives,

in order to be able to choose another way.

And, so I will practice.

To be more aware and pause when I hear the phone ring,

and not act like a Pavlovian dog responding out of conditioning.

And, for fun, I’m changing the signature on my outgoing emails that I write from my cell phone to read:

Blessed are You, G-d, who has given humans the wisdom to have created the cell phone and has also give them the knowledge and ability to know when not to answer them.

And then, I guess I’ll probably have to do the same practice for emails.

And, Facebook.

But for now, one practice at a time.

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Not STUCK on Disappointment

I was like an angel yesterday.

Because I knew something about the future that others (like my daughter) didn’t.

And, I was able to cautiously guide her peacefully through something which could otherwise have led to an emotional eruption.

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She arrived home from school and sat down at the bar in the kitchen.

“Do you remember the theme of the speech I gave the Friday night of your Bat Mitzvah?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.  “The importance of a pause.”

“Right,” I continued.  “So, I’m going to tell you something, but I want you to keep the pause in mind when I tell it to you, ok?  Remember, just pause and take a breath.”

She said, “Ok, now you’re making me nervous. But, go on.”

LeketI read her the email I received from Leket (Israel’s National Food Bank that she and her classmates were going to volunteer for this coming Sunday in honor of her Bat Mitzvah.)

“Due to the unusual weather that we experienced this winter and the hot temperatures of this season, most of the plants that we planned to pick in April and May ripened earlier than planned and therefore, our picking season ended earlier then expected.  We unfortunately need to cancel the picking activity that we scheduled for you.  The next harvest won’t be ready to be picked until the end of June.”

And, to top it off, the principal of her school (who – because of the educational nature of the program – was generous to allow Ayalah to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on a school day), said to me that there would be no other days for the rest of the school year in which we could do this activity.

My daughter’s jaw dropped.

Tears started to swell up in her eyes.

And, as I watched her, I could feel that she felt defeated.

After all this planning,  finding a date with Leket that was also appropriate with the school’s calendar, creating and sending out an invitation, sending out and receiving permission slips, ordering a bus, reserving a room for the party to follow, planning the party, and more.

She closed her eyes.

She took a breath.

And said without an ounce of pessimism, “Ok, so now what?”

Incredible.

As if those words were just coming out of the mouth of the most enlightened person I knew.

I fumbled for a moment.

And then brainstormed quicker than ever…

Maybe we could do this party on the day after the last day of school?

Or, push it off until September?

Or, cancel this idea and just invite a small group of your friends to do something else entirely?

Or, save the money we were planning to spend on this party and go to Eilat and swim with the dolphins (which she’s been speaking about for nearly two years).

Or, do the “party” part without the “Leket” part.

Or, consider that maybe the Bat Mitzvah service and community kiddush that we already had can be considered enough. (I told her that most likely this is how I would plan the other siblings Bar Mitzvah celebrations anyway).

And, within a few moments, she maturely responded, “Ok, let’s just do the party part.  And, let’s do it on an evening, rather than a morning. Actually, maybe it will be even more fun this way anyway.  Plus, we can all get dressed up, which we couldn’t do if we were going to go pick vegetables in a field first.”

Just like that.

She didn’t get stuck in disappointment.

She seamlessly went from a place of potential disappointment to a place of contentment and sincere happiness.

The possible emotional eruption never even occurred.

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

It must be nice to have an angel on your shoulder once in a while.

Even more so, an angel who knows how to caution you before you get stuck.

On some days, I wish I had such a personal angel.

On other days, I wonder if I do have such a personal angel.

And, I simply need to wake up to its presence.


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STUCK on “Your Kid’s Got an Attitude!”

I was at a community event recently when I witnessed a teenager acting quite disrespectfully to another adult (who happened to have been a friend of mine).

bad attitude

I was struck dumb by this teenager’s audacity and impertinence.

How could such a child in our community speak back to an authoritative figure in our community?

How could such a child in our community deliberately roll her eyes and scoff at an adult figure in our community?

How could such a child in our community have such confidence to believe that he can even act this way in the first place?

I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

And, as I stood there incredulously, I found myself being stuck on “your kid’s got an attitude, and I’ve gotta do something about it.”

I didn’t “S” stop and pause and breathe.

I didn’t “T” tell myself what I was feeling.

I didn’t “U” see what may have been underneath this all.

And, I certainly didn’t “C” consider a different perspective.

I just reacted.

Automatically.

And, I got myself involved in something to which I wasn’t even invited.

I went straight up to that teenager and told him what I had just witnessed.

And that I saw him speaking to that adult in that way.

And that he had no right to speak that way to any community member.

In other words, I put him in his place.

And his reaction?

After a little huffing and puffing and rolling of the eyes, he just walked away.

And, in that moment, I felt really good actually.

I felt like I did a good deed.

The right thing.

That any other responsible parent would have done.

But later that day, when I finally did take a moment to pause…

And speak to my own child (who was there at the scene),

I found myself regretting my behavior.

That I didn’t just stop and pause at the time.

And recognize what I was feeling (frustration).

And acknowledge that probably what was underneath all of this was the struggle of living in a small community where there are some parenting styles which I don’t endorse (which of course leads to children’s behaviors which I don’t endorse).

And consider another perspective, such as:

  • Maybe this child actually has a real problem
  • Maybe his parents are dealing with this said problem
  • Maybe the response by the adult at the scene was enough
  • Maybe you don’t have to get involved in everything that you see
  • Maybe you don’t know everything

But, that was the past.

And, this is the present.

And, while I wish I had stayed in the framework of “S.T.U.C.K.” and avoided that confrontation, I can only be compassionate to myself and remember that it’s o”K” that I got stuck there in the first place.

And now that I’m in a different mindset, can consider whether or not the right thing to do at this point is make an apology.


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STUCK on a D’var Torah for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah

This is the D’var Torah (words of Torah) that I will be saying tonight at Friday night services on Kibbutz Hannaton in honor of the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter.

Shabbat Shalom.  This week’s portion is Behar.  The two main concepts that we learn from this portion is Shmittah and the Year of the Jubilee.

Ayalah Bat MitzvahOver the past week or so, I really struggled with figuring out what kind of special D’var Torah I could come up with in honor of the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter, Ayalah.

With such an emphasis on the “land”, I thought about connecting the portion to our Aliyah and the implications of that decision: the wonderful experiences as well as the many challenges.  I also thought about sharing with the community Ayalah’s choice in celebrating her Bat Mitzvah by harvesting crops with the non-profit organization called Leket instead of a traditional dance party.

Yet, after reading the portion a few times, I still felt stumped. I started asking friends for help.  I searched the internet.  I read articles and commentaries and watched videos, but couldn’t find anything that truly came from my heart and that was meaningful enough to me to be able to share with you and in honor of Ayalah.  I started to get nervous.  Endless thoughts starting running through my mind.  Maybe I shouldn’t do the D’var Torah.  Maybe my husband should just do it?  Maybe I’ll ask a friend?

And, then I stopped.

I just paused.

And in that space, came my D’var Torah.

The idea of “stopping”.

In this week’s portion, we see an emphasis on stopping a few times.

Leviticus 25: 3-4 -For 6 years you may sow your field and for 6 years you may prune your vineyard, and you may gather in its crop.  But, the 7th year shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for Hashem, your field you shall not sow and your vineyard you shall not prune.”

Leviticus 25: 8-12 “You shall count for yourself seven cycles of sabbatical years… shall be 49 years… You shall sanctify the 50th years and proclaim freedom throughout the land…. Each of you shall return to his ancestral heritage…”

Interestingly, how often are we commanded in the Torah to DO things and then STOP doing that same commandment?

And, why are we commanded to stop?

Is it merely just to regain energy?  Rejuvenate?   So, that we have strength and energy to keep us going until the next pause?

Or, is there something more to it?

When I look at my own life, I can readily admit how difficult it is to stop.

There’s always so much to do.  I feel like I’m usually behind the 8 ball in the house, with the kids, and the laundry, and the meals, and the homework, starting a business, and the committees, and the community meetings, and on and on.

My tendency is not to stop.

And, I can think of 2 inter-related reasons why this simple, but not necessarily easily action occurs:

1)      I (like most people) believe that we are in control of our destiny.  That life is in our hands.  And so, in order to accomplish things, I need to keep moving and doing.  If I were to temporarily stop, I would appear (to myself and others) to be an irresponsible member of society or the family.  And so, believing that destiny is in my hands, I keep moving.

2)      I (like most people) want to see immediate results of their actions.  If we set any kind of goal for ourselves, then we keep moving towards that goal in efforts to achieve it without stopping, of course.

And yet, we are commanded to stop.

And, I believe there’s more to it than just the physical rejuvenation.

That when we pause, from whatever it is we are doing, something else occurs.

An opportunity: To just notice life continuing to exist moment by moment without any action on our part.  (Something we usually miss because we are so busy).

An opportunity: To acknowledge the Source of all life.

An opportunity: For gratitude.

And when we realize and accept this reality, perhaps we would be more willing to pause and be more grateful to the One who sustains us all.

And so, when we pause (before we eat, before we speak, before we act, before we start our day, when we are at work, on Shabbat), we put ourselves in an entirely different mode of being.

Which is the reason that I try to pause each morning before I start my day with meditation.

And why I often do this in the public spaces of our house (like the living room).

So that my children can observe and perhaps recognize the value of intentionally pausing.

And so, Ayalah, on your Bat Mitzvah, I wish you the wisdom of the act of pausing and the courage to practice it, even when you think you don’t need it.  So that when you do need it, it’ll become second nature to you.  And I hope that you will learn in your own life the power of a pause and how it can strengthen you as a young girl, a woman, and a human being.

And with that, I would like to pause for a moment and be aware of all of my blessings and thank Hashem for giving you life and sustaining you and helping you to reach this day.

Shabbat Shalom.


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STUCK on a PAUSE

I was stuck on despair a few days ago.

As as I processed through this challenging emotion, I reminded myself of the “S” step (in S.T.U.C.K.).  That is, the importance of intentionally Stopping and taking a break from the busyness of the mind.

And when I did this, I basically came back to the same conclusion that I had several months ago: reaffirming that yes, this business idea is what I really want to be doing with my life.  And, in order to do so, I must just move forward, be patient and keep an open-mind.

Yet, that’s not what the step of stopping is all about!

It’s not about reaffirming our life’s desires.

Rather, stopping is an opportunity to witness life as it unfolds, moment by moment, experience by experience.

And, there is a big difference between the two.

This revelation came to me (as most revelations always do) during my morning meditation sessions over the past three days.

Pause_Hammock_Postcard

I recognized two inter-related ideas of why I (and many others) may struggle with pausing:

1) In general, I think most of us believe we are in total control of our lives, when in actuality we are not.  And, if we were to pause, it would mean we are not being responsible because it would mean we are wasting precious time as opposed to being busy doing something else.

2) Most of us are interested in seeing the immediate outcomes of life’s situations.  So, if we allow ourselves to pause, for even a moment, we would presumably delay that outcome.

And so, the tendency is to not stop.

Not to pause.

But, when we do, life can appear differently.

And, incredibly interesting.

And almost magical.

And certainly gratifying.

Like two days after writing about being “stuck on despair”, when I received a phone call from one of the biggest hi-tech companies in the area (1200+ employees). A company that I didn’t even reach out to personally, but just passed my information on to a friend.  A company that invited me to give 2 (not just 1) demo classes and will pay me full-price (not free sessions which I’ve been offering to other companies).   A company who sees the value of my services.  A company who is interested not only in my yoga, but my meditation classes.  And, believe it or not, my mindful eating workshops as well.  A company that has an incredible physical space to hold my yoga/meditation sessions.  A company that wants to support their employees’ overall health.

And to think… I hardly did anything proactive to really get my foot in the door to this company.

It came to me with hardly any effort at all.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m certainly not saying, let me lean back, kick my legs up, and wait for clients to come knocking down my door.

No, I’m far from saying that.

Instead, I’m just advocating the pause.

And, to be curious about it.

And allow those precious moments of the unknown to arise.

Without judging them.

Who knows? Maybe there won’t even be interest from any employees from this company.

I certainly can’t be stuck on expectations.

Or what about the two part-time job offers (unrelated to Yoga at Work) that came knocking at my doorstep this week?

Hmm…

Interesting…

Maybe…

And, continue to pause and watch life unfold as it is meant to be.

Whether it’s how we intended it to be or not.


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STUCK on DESPAIR

This week, I went from being “stuck on rejection” to being “stuck on despair”.

With my business.

Yoga at Work.

After many, many rejections and a handful of potential clients that fell through, this past week I just lost it.

“Really, Shira, wouldn’t it just be so much easier to get a ‘regular’ paying job?”

“What’s all this effort for anyway?”

“Do you really think you’re going to make something out of this business idea?”

“You’re in Israel, don’t forget.  Not America.  It’s a different culture.  Different lifestyle.”

“How long can you emotionally last pursuing this business idea?”

“How long can you afford to do this without seeing a single shekel week after week?”

Until I realized that I was just stuck.

On despair.

despair

And so, I just “S” – STOPPED.

And did nothing.

Didn’t react.

Didn’t anticipate.

Didn’t prepare.

Didn’t plan.

Didn’t make any phone calls.

Just paused.

On purpose.

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And just sitting there brought me back to myself.

To a place of quiet and a feeling of complete presence.

To a reduction of my temporary stress.

To a feeling of gratitude for this mindfulness practice.

To a realization of “doing exactly just this… sitting… breathing… de-stressing… is exactly what I want to be doing with my life and bringing to others… just like I did in the States.”

And, acknowledging that it will just take some more time, plenty of patience, and an open mind.

And, it will take mindfully listening to the reasons of rejections and seeing them as opportunities to improve my marketing strategy and business plan.

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Funny, how time and time again, I forget to stop.

I rush to find solutions or try to change my perspective on things way before I even give myself a second to just pause.

And, why do I do that?

Probably because I don’t practice enough “intentionally sitting/meditation” on a regular basis which would otherwise create that “well” of experience and wisdom within me.

And so, when I need to pause, I don’t even consider looking for it.

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And so that is my aspiration for this upcoming Sabbath.

To make dedicated and holy time to just pause.

On purpose.

And do nothing else.

Except be.


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STUCK on RESPONDING AUTOMATICALLY

We all do it.

Someone…

a family member, a neighbor, a child…

Says something that just irks you to the core.

And you respond.

Automatically.

Because you, I, are just stuck

On responding…

On reacting…

automatically.

Which ultimately tends to leads us to places we’d rather not be in.

And, yet, somehow, we feel powerless over that gut, knee-jerk reaction…

As if we have no control over it.

Yet, we do.

*****

Over this past week, I came to realize the enormous value in the letter “S” of the acronym “S.T.U.C.K.”

STOP.

Just STOP.

So when your family member, or neighbor, or child,

says something to you that irks you to the core,

you will just pause.

And in that moment, something may potentially happen.

Perhaps the pause will allow them to realize that their words were:

misdirected,

misguided,

obnoxious,

arrogant,

disrespectful

out of context,

hurtful,

or just plain rude

OR

Perhaps the pause will allow you to realize that their statement wasn’t meant to be

misdirected,

misguided,

obnoxious,

arrogant,

disrespectful

out of context,

hurtful,

or just plain rude.

You see, the simple pause may allow for endless possibilities.

The chance for the other person to realize his/her mindless speech.

The chance for you to not get resentful or angry.

The chance for compassion.

The chance to find some truth (some truth!) in what was said.

pause

Either way, we must not underestimate the power of pausing.

At the minimum, it could save a conversation.

At the maximum, it could save a relationship.

As Mark Twain said, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

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

So, how do we do this?

How do we incorporate pausing into our lives, when the most natural instinct we have as humans is to respond?

By purposefully stopping on a regular basis.

Call it what you may: stopping, sitting, meditating.

It doesn’t matter.

It’s just the intentional practice of forcing ourselves to stop,

each day,

for a predetermined amount of time.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

And, it’s value is way overlooked.

You should try it.

And, before you dismiss this invitation,

STOP.

And, in that space,

see what arises.