Think of a current situation in which your needs are not getting met. Most likely this involves another person (or even yourself) who has disappointed you with a certain behavior or the lack of a behavior you desire.
Close your eyes, and see that person in your mind’s eye.
How we respond—essentially, what we do—with our feelings ultimately determines our emotional health. What are you doing with your feelings about the person you’re thinking about? Repressing them and withdrawing? Holding on and strategically lashing out with resentment? Letting them drive your thoughts and build the drama? Consider the long-term consequences of not having your needs met and the toll it can take on you emotionally, psychologically, and physically.
So right now, you probably are experiencing some irritation, discomfort, or annoyance regarding this person or situation. Let me show you an amazingly powerful exercise that I have taught to members of the military, law enforcement, and people in high-pressure situations to move beyond stress.
With the vision of that person or situation still in your mind’s eye: Right now, take a long, slow deep breath in…
And watch the breath as it moves into your nostrils.
Hold it there.
Now gently release that breath and feel it start to move up your chest.
Now hold the breath out and watch it as it starts to dissipate.
That was 16 seconds. Four seconds in; four seconds of holding the breath in; four seconds out; and four seconds of holding the breath out. Now do it with your eyes closed and watch your breath the whole way.
How do you feel? If you were playing along, for those 16 seconds you were not focused on the irritation or irritating person. Your attention was not in the past, nor was it in the future. Your awareness was in the present moment. And in the present moment there is no fear, no sadness, no anxiety, no worry—no anger or irritation. There is only the now. And you get to step into this moment with less emotional turbulence, less constriction, greater calm, and greater ease.