THE Soft Skill for Hard Times




The above is from my book.


Practices for Challenging Times

  • STOP: Stop, Take a breath, Observe what's happening in and around you, and then Proceed after you've considered what might be your next, best move.

  • STAR: Stop, Take a breath, And, Relax.

  • RAIN: Recognize your emotion, Accept it, Investigate it, Non-identification with the emotion (rather than I am angry, I am feeling anger), and Nourish yourself with self-compassion (so it's more like RAINN)

I could spend 10, 30, or 60 minutes taking you through any of the above practices.


At Mindful Schools, we use STAR for the kids, and we teach the practice and the teachers usually tell the kids when they need it.


Did you catch that? The teachers remind the kids, in the moment, at least for a few months.


When you're in a moment where you're not having an emotion but the emotion is having you, guess what you don't think of unless you have a practice of doing it? Anything that's going to help you in that moment. Your brain takes the path of least resistance and is going to do what it has always done. And if it hasn't spent plenty of time cultivating a default mode of awareness, the above practices either won't occur to you at all, or they will but you can't manage to do them because your practice of doing them isn't strong.


If that sounds circular, it's because it is. We are systems of systems that change or not based on feedback loops.

  • Keep having the same conversation with someone? Maybe that's because you keep having the same conversation with them.

  • Always feel the same way after speaking with someone? Maybe it's because you're not doing anything different.

  • Having a tough time drinking less alcohol at happy hour? Maybe don't go to happy hour?

  • Living the same story because, well, you can point to the origin of the story and it's why you are who you are? Stop pointing to that story. Change the story. De-emphasize the story. It's the past, right? Why keep making it the present?

The One Thing Everyone Should Learn

There is literally one practice that is foundational to:

  • Better listening

  • Better communication

  • Better emotion regulation

  • Improved chances of behavior change

  • Better relationships

  • Better health

  • Better well-being

  • Better movement

Yes, One Thing. One Practice.

Awareness. Of self, others, environment, and even movement. Once you cultivate awareness and begin to notice your life and surroundings, many things begin to shift. And being aware starts to become your default mode. When that happens, guess what occurs to you, as if by magic?

  • STOP

  • STAR

  • RAIN

  • Every other practice and protocol you've learned to guide you through challenging moments.

When you bring curious friendliness to the entire spectrum of your experience, you're able to embrace it all, accept it all, and move through it all without becoming agitated or checking out.


Awareness is necessary for learning to occur.


If you're aware of yourself and paying attention to the other person, the skillful listening and speaking arise. If you're aware of your body and the quality of your mind, the healthy behavior you need to adopt is clear, and you "figure it out" earlier than you would have.


Awareness doesn't magically happen; it's a practice. And the more you practice it intentionally, the more it becomes a habit.


There are other skills crucial to learning and behavior change and improving well-being, but they all kick in AFTER awareness. Awareness always comes first.


Here's just over 2 minutes more on the topic . . .




Here's the page I refer to.

May ease find you.

mm