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Level Up Your Parent Communication Skills #3: Getting Present in the Body

When we get upset, frustrated, annoyed, or we’re exhausted, stressed, or overwhelmed, we get all up in our head and most of our communication is running on autopilot.

This is when we say things we regret and act in ways that don’t reflect the love and care we truly have for our family. Fortunately, there’s an antidote to all this: it’s getting out of our heads and turning off the mental autopilot. And the way to do this is by getting present in the body.

What does it mean to “get present” in your body?

It might sound strange at first: of course, you’re present in your body. Where else would you be? But when you become aware of where you’re attention is really at, you’ll see that you live most of your life wrapped up in thoughts, stories, assumptions, generally running on a mental autopilot program we’ve developed over the course of our life.

Something amazing happens when we snap out of this autopilot, let go of the continuous stream of mental chatter, and become present in this moment, right here and right now. Our physical body is the pathway into the present moment.

What makes getting present in the body such an effective parent communication skill?

You can’t be fully present in your body and caught up in your mental autopilot. They’re mutually exclusive. Once the autopilot is turned off, and our attention is focused on the present moment, you can be more intentional about what you really want out of your relationships, how you want to show up, and what you want to do next.

Just as importantly, getting present in your body helps you become aware of what you’re actually feeling in the moment (and what you’re actually feeling may have nothing to do with your kids). Understanding your own emotional world helps you to communicate with more clarity and compassion.

Finally, when you’re more aware of your own emotions and feelings, you can express them in a way that doesn’t project them onto others. When you can express with clarity and compassion, you can begin to truly connect with the other person in front of you.

How do you get more present in your body?

We use a three-step process but you can play around with this and see what works best for you.

STEP 1: Pause and take a deep breath. This disrupts the mental autopilot, giving you a little room to start noticing how you’ve been held hostage by mental chatter.

STEP 2: Feel. Bring your attention into a few specific parts of your body that you know get activated when you’re stressed. Typical hot spots for anxiety and activation are the belly, chest, shoulders, and throat. Open your awareness to what’s happening in these parts: is it heavy? Hot? Buzzy? Like waves or electricity? Get as detailed as you can.

STEP 3: Express. Tell your child (or partner) what you’re feeling right in that moment (in an age-appropriate way). If your kids are older than 7 or 8, you can tell them exactly what you’re physically feeling: “My chest is feeling tense and buzzy, my throat is feeling constricted and my face is feeling hot.”

If they’re younger, say 3 or 4, you could say “I’m having big feelings in my tummy and chest. It feels like a steam engine.” No need to start interpreting your feelings (like saying you’re angry or disappointed). This exercise isn’t about emotional expression, but rather about helping you get present in your body.

From this embodied presence, you can get a better handle on what you’re really experiencing, and this lets you communicate with more intention and clarity. When you’re present in your body, you’ll find you can listen better and express yourself more fully.

That’s it. It seems simple, but it takes a lot of practice to get into the habit of taking deep breaths, finding those parts of your body that get activated when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, and then expressing these bodily feelings in words.

But it’s magic. Once you get in the habit, you’ll find that situations that used to escalate instead shrink. And you can start to hear your kids in a new way and communicate from your true intentions of love and connection.

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Level Up Your Parent Communication Skills #3: Getting Present in the Body

Feeling emotional is one thing, but feeling out emotions in our bodies is another! This week, Justin and Alicia talk about how important it is to get physically present when we're working through something in our emotions.

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Key takeaways

1

When we get into conflicts with our kids or partner, we often run on mental autopilot

2

We can snap out of it by learning how to get present in our body

3

This skill helps us communicate with more intention, clarity, and compassion

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4 minutes

When we get upset, frustrated, annoyed, or we’re exhausted, stressed, or overwhelmed, we get all up in our head and most of our communication is running on autopilot.

This is when we say things we regret and act in ways that don’t reflect the love and care we truly have for our family. Fortunately, there’s an antidote to all this: it’s getting out of our heads and turning off the mental autopilot. And the way to do this is by getting present in the body.

What does it mean to “get present” in your body?

It might sound strange at first: of course, you’re present in your body. Where else would you be? But when you become aware of where you’re attention is really at, you’ll see that you live most of your life wrapped up in thoughts, stories, assumptions, generally running on a mental autopilot program we’ve developed over the course of our life.

Something amazing happens when we snap out of this autopilot, let go of the continuous stream of mental chatter, and become present in this moment, right here and right now. Our physical body is the pathway into the present moment.

What makes getting present in the body such an effective parent communication skill?

You can’t be fully present in your body and caught up in your mental autopilot. They’re mutually exclusive. Once the autopilot is turned off, and our attention is focused on the present moment, you can be more intentional about what you really want out of your relationships, how you want to show up, and what you want to do next.

Just as importantly, getting present in your body helps you become aware of what you’re actually feeling in the moment (and what you’re actually feeling may have nothing to do with your kids). Understanding your own emotional world helps you to communicate with more clarity and compassion.

Finally, when you’re more aware of your own emotions and feelings, you can express them in a way that doesn’t project them onto others. When you can express with clarity and compassion, you can begin to truly connect with the other person in front of you.

How do you get more present in your body?

We use a three-step process but you can play around with this and see what works best for you.

STEP 1: Pause and take a deep breath. This disrupts the mental autopilot, giving you a little room to start noticing how you’ve been held hostage by mental chatter.

STEP 2: Feel. Bring your attention into a few specific parts of your body that you know get activated when you’re stressed. Typical hot spots for anxiety and activation are the belly, chest, shoulders, and throat. Open your awareness to what’s happening in these parts: is it heavy? Hot? Buzzy? Like waves or electricity? Get as detailed as you can.

STEP 3: Express. Tell your child (or partner) what you’re feeling right in that moment (in an age-appropriate way). If your kids are older than 7 or 8, you can tell them exactly what you’re physically feeling: “My chest is feeling tense and buzzy, my throat is feeling constricted and my face is feeling hot.”

If they’re younger, say 3 or 4, you could say “I’m having big feelings in my tummy and chest. It feels like a steam engine.” No need to start interpreting your feelings (like saying you’re angry or disappointed). This exercise isn’t about emotional expression, but rather about helping you get present in your body.

From this embodied presence, you can get a better handle on what you’re really experiencing, and this lets you communicate with more intention and clarity. When you’re present in your body, you’ll find you can listen better and express yourself more fully.

That’s it. It seems simple, but it takes a lot of practice to get into the habit of taking deep breaths, finding those parts of your body that get activated when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, and then expressing these bodily feelings in words.

But it’s magic. Once you get in the habit, you’ll find that situations that used to escalate instead shrink. And you can start to hear your kids in a new way and communicate from your true intentions of love and connection.

When we get upset, frustrated, annoyed, or we’re exhausted, stressed, or overwhelmed, we get all up in our head and most of our communication is running on autopilot.

This is when we say things we regret and act in ways that don’t reflect the love and care we truly have for our family. Fortunately, there’s an antidote to all this: it’s getting out of our heads and turning off the mental autopilot. And the way to do this is by getting present in the body.

What does it mean to “get present” in your body?

It might sound strange at first: of course, you’re present in your body. Where else would you be? But when you become aware of where you’re attention is really at, you’ll see that you live most of your life wrapped up in thoughts, stories, assumptions, generally running on a mental autopilot program we’ve developed over the course of our life.

Something amazing happens when we snap out of this autopilot, let go of the continuous stream of mental chatter, and become present in this moment, right here and right now. Our physical body is the pathway into the present moment.

What makes getting present in the body such an effective parent communication skill?

You can’t be fully present in your body and caught up in your mental autopilot. They’re mutually exclusive. Once the autopilot is turned off, and our attention is focused on the present moment, you can be more intentional about what you really want out of your relationships, how you want to show up, and what you want to do next.

Just as importantly, getting present in your body helps you become aware of what you’re actually feeling in the moment (and what you’re actually feeling may have nothing to do with your kids). Understanding your own emotional world helps you to communicate with more clarity and compassion.

Finally, when you’re more aware of your own emotions and feelings, you can express them in a way that doesn’t project them onto others. When you can express with clarity and compassion, you can begin to truly connect with the other person in front of you.

How do you get more present in your body?

We use a three-step process but you can play around with this and see what works best for you.

STEP 1: Pause and take a deep breath. This disrupts the mental autopilot, giving you a little room to start noticing how you’ve been held hostage by mental chatter.

STEP 2: Feel. Bring your attention into a few specific parts of your body that you know get activated when you’re stressed. Typical hot spots for anxiety and activation are the belly, chest, shoulders, and throat. Open your awareness to what’s happening in these parts: is it heavy? Hot? Buzzy? Like waves or electricity? Get as detailed as you can.

STEP 3: Express. Tell your child (or partner) what you’re feeling right in that moment (in an age-appropriate way). If your kids are older than 7 or 8, you can tell them exactly what you’re physically feeling: “My chest is feeling tense and buzzy, my throat is feeling constricted and my face is feeling hot.”

If they’re younger, say 3 or 4, you could say “I’m having big feelings in my tummy and chest. It feels like a steam engine.” No need to start interpreting your feelings (like saying you’re angry or disappointed). This exercise isn’t about emotional expression, but rather about helping you get present in your body.

From this embodied presence, you can get a better handle on what you’re really experiencing, and this lets you communicate with more intention and clarity. When you’re present in your body, you’ll find you can listen better and express yourself more fully.

That’s it. It seems simple, but it takes a lot of practice to get into the habit of taking deep breaths, finding those parts of your body that get activated when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, and then expressing these bodily feelings in words.

But it’s magic. Once you get in the habit, you’ll find that situations that used to escalate instead shrink. And you can start to hear your kids in a new way and communicate from your true intentions of love and connection.

When we get upset, frustrated, annoyed, or we’re exhausted, stressed, or overwhelmed, we get all up in our head and most of our communication is running on autopilot.

This is when we say things we regret and act in ways that don’t reflect the love and care we truly have for our family. Fortunately, there’s an antidote to all this: it’s getting out of our heads and turning off the mental autopilot. And the way to do this is by getting present in the body.

What does it mean to “get present” in your body?

It might sound strange at first: of course, you’re present in your body. Where else would you be? But when you become aware of where you’re attention is really at, you’ll see that you live most of your life wrapped up in thoughts, stories, assumptions, generally running on a mental autopilot program we’ve developed over the course of our life.

Something amazing happens when we snap out of this autopilot, let go of the continuous stream of mental chatter, and become present in this moment, right here and right now. Our physical body is the pathway into the present moment.

What makes getting present in the body such an effective parent communication skill?

You can’t be fully present in your body and caught up in your mental autopilot. They’re mutually exclusive. Once the autopilot is turned off, and our attention is focused on the present moment, you can be more intentional about what you really want out of your relationships, how you want to show up, and what you want to do next.

Just as importantly, getting present in your body helps you become aware of what you’re actually feeling in the moment (and what you’re actually feeling may have nothing to do with your kids). Understanding your own emotional world helps you to communicate with more clarity and compassion.

Finally, when you’re more aware of your own emotions and feelings, you can express them in a way that doesn’t project them onto others. When you can express with clarity and compassion, you can begin to truly connect with the other person in front of you.

How do you get more present in your body?

We use a three-step process but you can play around with this and see what works best for you.

STEP 1: Pause and take a deep breath. This disrupts the mental autopilot, giving you a little room to start noticing how you’ve been held hostage by mental chatter.

STEP 2: Feel. Bring your attention into a few specific parts of your body that you know get activated when you’re stressed. Typical hot spots for anxiety and activation are the belly, chest, shoulders, and throat. Open your awareness to what’s happening in these parts: is it heavy? Hot? Buzzy? Like waves or electricity? Get as detailed as you can.

STEP 3: Express. Tell your child (or partner) what you’re feeling right in that moment (in an age-appropriate way). If your kids are older than 7 or 8, you can tell them exactly what you’re physically feeling: “My chest is feeling tense and buzzy, my throat is feeling constricted and my face is feeling hot.”

If they’re younger, say 3 or 4, you could say “I’m having big feelings in my tummy and chest. It feels like a steam engine.” No need to start interpreting your feelings (like saying you’re angry or disappointed). This exercise isn’t about emotional expression, but rather about helping you get present in your body.

From this embodied presence, you can get a better handle on what you’re really experiencing, and this lets you communicate with more intention and clarity. When you’re present in your body, you’ll find you can listen better and express yourself more fully.

That’s it. It seems simple, but it takes a lot of practice to get into the habit of taking deep breaths, finding those parts of your body that get activated when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, and then expressing these bodily feelings in words.

But it’s magic. Once you get in the habit, you’ll find that situations that used to escalate instead shrink. And you can start to hear your kids in a new way and communicate from your true intentions of love and connection.

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