The Gumbo

Hello good folks. We learned a while ago that how we feel generally comes from our thinking. For example, if we’re having fearful thoughts, it would be normal for the body to feel afraid. The body is trying to get our attention, in fact, so that we’ll stop and take a look at what’s going on in the mind. Most of our thinking is actually invisible, with the voice in the head being just the tip of the iceberg. So a big part of what I do with clients is to help them learn how to relax into a feeling in the body, knowing they are not the feeling itself; those feelings are always temporary, so they’re actually the one safely watching it. And then we try to see what kind of thinking is making up that particular feeling.

A good analogy for looking at the thoughts underneath our feelings is to view it all as a soup or a gumbo, with several different ingredients. So we learn to relax, get out of the way, and look to see what the ingredients are. When we see the ingredients, we can deal with them – one at a time. We can usually see a major cause for how we’re feeling right away, but something cool happens when we slow down and talk it through. After a few minutes, something else might pop in, something we hadn’t seen before. And we can see how that would contribute to the feeling as well. And then several minutes later, another ingredient might pop in that we hadn’t seen. And we can see how that would make the feeling even stronger.

This is exactly what happened with the client that felt like she had a thousand problems in her life, when she really had exactly three. She looked at the feeling and got curious about why it was there. What was her body was telling her? When she got out of the way and asked this question, she saw that there were three ingredients to the gumbo. So she did the good old Attach-Deal-Detach method for handling things, dealing with one at a time, and the feeling shifted, leaving her feeling much better.

To me, the coolest part of this is how more ingredients that we hadn’t seen before can just pop into our heads. That is huge! And why does this happen? It happens because we chill out on our obsessive thinking and we slooowww down. When we do this, not only does the body relax, but space is created in our head so that our wisdom can just give us the answer. Because it already knows. Read that again… It might help to be in an office with someone like me, because our relaxed conversation style mimics how our wisdom thinks, which is not in a rush. And it actually gets somewhere! The chatterbox, meanwhile, talks a million miles an hour and doesn’t really get anywhere. And our body just contracts more and more as a result. Not good… So when we relax and slow down, it’s actually much faster in the long run. And as each ingredient come into our awareness, we can deal with it. They are now conscious, whereas before they were not.

Also note that sometimes nothing can be done with whatever is bothering us (at that time, anyway). We can still find more peace, though, because we see it and note that we’re in a holding pattern, so we can consciously let ourselves off the hook. It’s like the body is telling us there’s a problem that must be fixed, but there’s no action that can be taken to fix it. Maybe you’re awaiting the results of a test or a job interview. Your mind is in its old habit of freaking out, so the body freaks out. But then you see what’s going on and you remind yourself very firmly of the truth: there’s nothing that can be done right now, and I can only wait. So why not practice waiting in more and more peace? And the body will relax more and more. Isn’t this cool, people?? I sure think so…

So there we go folks, I invite you to get super curious about the ingredients of the gumbo when you’re feeling off, because there might be more going on than you had originally thought. And when you see the ingredients, you can handle them one at a time. And how you feel starts to make more and more sense; you’ll have a really good understanding of what’s going on. And the result, of course, is that you’ll feel better, faster. You’ll handle situations better. But when you don’t understand what’s going on, it can seem like there are a thousand things wrong when there are actually only three. And that doesn’t feel good. So here’s to wishing you all the best as you sort through the ingredients of your gumbo at any given moment. Also let’s note how appropriate it is that this post is called The Gumbo and was published on Fat Tuesday. That was not planned… So let’s send a big cheers to the folks that are finishing up their Mardi Gras celebrations today, from over here in Pensacola where I live all the way west to New Orleans. Laissez les bon temps rouler!