Do you know what a governor does? No, not a capital-G Governor. After this week, those governors are very much on everyone’s mind. We should all know just exactly what they can and cannot do, as well as all of our other elected officials – local, state and federal.
But a different sort of governor is a device that regulates the speed of a machine or mechanism. It helps to maintain a steady equilibrium of action, keeping an engine from running too fast or too slow.
So is your personal governor on the job? How can you catch yourself if you get too heated? Too angry? Too emotional? What about if you grow too indifferent, lethargic or discouraged? If you think of your emotions as the engine, what can you imagine is your governor? How do you get yourself to slow down? To speed up?
Well, you’re not a machine. You’re a person. With feelings. Sometimes, big ones. By the way, your physical body does have a governor. Or, a governing system called the autonomic nervous system. Within that system, your sympathetic nervous system controls your “fight or flight” reactions while your parasympathetic nervous system controls your “rest and digest” reactions. They work in tandem.
Back to feelings, your personal feelings – what’s the governor in that system? One way to keep your emotional governor working well is to practice mindfulness. Paying attention to your emotions is helpful to understanding them. Of course, a desire to change, improve or learn is very helpful. That said, learning what triggers you is an opportunity to practice.
So, before you speak, before your “engine” gets out of control or even when it fails to get going, here are two tried and true mindfulness practices to rehearse as often as you can.
Ask yourself, “Is it true; is it kind; is it necessary?” If you can catch yourself in a heated moment and practice this one, great! Good for you. That’s pretty hard to do. But you can also catch yourself in other conversations – less emotional, but maybe more repetitive interactions you have at work, home, with loved ones. So, ask yourself when you feel your emotions rising, “Is it true; is it kind; is it necessary?” Act accordingly.
Remember to S.T.O.P.: When you are feeling your feelings in a big way, remember this acronym and STOP. Stop. Take a breath. Observe what is happening in you, your breath, your physical movements, your assumptions, your emotions, your patterns, your triggers. All of it. And then, Proceed. Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed.
Wishin’ you peace and love in the week ahead, gov’nor!