Staying calm under pressure

On Friday I had a shocking email. My Paypal account was being closed. No reason given. I couldn’t pay out, or receive income. And the sum of money that built up over the last few months had been frozen up for up to 180 days. Four whole months.
The email came in the early evening, just as the helpline had closed. Sadly it wasn’t a scam, as I first thought it might be, but was a real thing.

I’d had a long day full of travel, and waiting around, and to be honest it was the last thing I needed.
Not only the loss of money, but the loss of time and convenience of having a payment method most people use. I use Paypal for the violin accessories I make and sell as well as classes and workshops. And for online purchases. The thought of having to spend hours researching alternatives was not filling me with joy.

I logged in to my computer to see if I had missed some emails, and to see if I could find out what the problem actually was on Paypal. My partner helped by looking on the internet for solutions. He also texted one of his friends who had recently worked for Paypal to see if he could assist.
After several hours of activity, he leaned on the doorpost of our living room, and mentioned something that was surprising him: I hadn’t freaked out. (I was finding it stressful) but I was calm. He said if that was him he would have been furious/gnashing his teeth by then. He was more outwardly stressed about it than me.
It was true. Me a decade ago, would have been running around after my emotional tail. I would have been getting stressed, and venting, which would have wound me up more. Which would have started an upward spiral to a point my amygdala (the more unconscious oldest part of the brain dealing with the fight-flight-freeze response) took over the cognitive part of my brain and freaked out some more. 

But I didn’t. I could feel that I was stressed, my back started to tense up, so I kept it moving as I typed, to stop it getting fixed or stiff later. I noted that my breath was getting faster, and slowed down my out-breath. I purposefully breathed through my nose. I wiggled my feet, to reconnect more with my whole body. I walked around to dissipate some of my excess frustration and energy. Finally, I did something else to take my mind off it as much as I could. After all, it was evening, and I couldn’t do anything about it right then. They weren’t things I was super actively aware of, they happened at the edges of my perception.

I put much of my improved emotional maturity down to my personal Feldenkrais practice. It doesn’t stop me feeling it, but it helps me not amplify the emotions. They come, I don’t amplify them with physical holding patterns that make them feel stronger, and then they can go more easily. I can stay on more of an even keel.

It allows me to keep my sympathetic nervous system more under control, to downregulate my nervous system. It wouldn’t be helpful to stress out. It wouldn’t have changed the situation I was dealing with. I would have felt worse, and be less able to deal with the situation well.

The simplicity of movement I find in a Feldenkrais lesson is a transferable skill: to maintain simplicity under pressure. To maintain contact with my physical self, no matter the situation. I have space and time to respond, not react unthinkingly. In our reactivity there’s no space for thought or choice.
Of course there are time when we should allow our reactions to take over. But this wasn’t one of them.

Luckily for me, after a relatively short time with Customer support, the problem was solved- it had been an algorithm failure. I was so relieved. And of course, there was a relaxation of the tension I felt under, but that tension hadn’t crippled my ability to act appropriately for the situation. And that’s a real life-skill gift from a regular Feldenkrais practice.

If you’re interested to build your own Feldenkrais practice with me, get in touch. You can try out video lessons via my website, or join a class (the last ones of this term are tomorrow evening and Thursday).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s