Awareness

Alright, let’s be honest here: how many of us get hangry? Like I’m talking knock-out, drag-out, full-blown hanger. For those of you who don’t know, hanger = hungry + anger. It’s that feeling when anything anyone says is absolutely idiotic…but in reality you are just starving. I'm not going to lie, I’ve been there more times than I would like to admit. 

But I also struggle from a similar phenomenon called tanger. Yes, tanger: tired + anger. When I am tired, you better get out of my way because I will snap your head right off… alright, that’s a little dramatic. But don’t lie you’ve totally been there at least once in your life. It’s that post-Disneyland feeling… yes, okay now you know what I’m talking about. 

In mine and Jeremy’s relationship, he tends to be the hangry one, while I am mostly the tangry one. We discovered this when both of us were working long Saturdays. I would work all day long and meet him after his work day so that we could get dinner together. We were always so exhausted and hungry that we would always end up snapping at each other and getting our feelings hurt. Then we would sit down, all butt-hurt, and finally eat a meal in silence. And when our plates were empty we would look at each other and start laughing. We were then able to be aware enough to realize that we completely just operated out of a tired and hungry state. 

But if you’ve been in a similar scenario, you know and understand that when you are in the moment you are not aware that your body is reacting in this way. In fact, if someone says “hey, I think you are a little hangry…” AHH HELL NO! They better watch out. And then once you eat, you can sit back and say "oh ya that’s totally what it was." 

Often time our bodies are effected by things that we aren’t fully aware of. 

So often we act and speak out of a heightened state, without recognizing what spurred this reaction. 

As I’ve become more aware of this, I’ve realized that our society doesn’t always put a high emphasis on awareness. A great example of this is little kids… the kid is crying and throwing a complete tantrum, yet the parents have no idea what to do. Instead of asking the child what caused this reaction, our initial response is “DON’T DO THAT! BE QUIET!” 

However, these kids need to be able to pin-point their emotions to the source of what triggered their response. 

In a similar way, our bodies react to our anxiety. But we live in such a busy world, that we don’t often take a step back and recognize why our bodies are reacting in such a way. Each of our bodies are different, but it’s important to recognize these signs that are pointing to something much deeper. 

For me, an indication that I am in an anxious state is my stomach. My stomach will be so tense and in knots that I feel like I need to run to the bathroom (I know, TMI, but stick with me). I also will sometimes wake up the next morning and my arms will be sore. I’ve realized that my shoulders have been so stiff that it has caused my arms to feel as though I have just worked out. 

Recently, a few factors caused me to be really anxious. I was meeting new people and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I felt like I was going to be sick and my shoulders felt so sore. But as soon as I was able to pinpoint why I was anxious, I felt myself breathe a little bit deeper. 

I breathed into the awareness of my anxiety. And I felt a new understanding of my body. I wasn’t sick, my breathing was fine, and I was going to be okay. I felt my stomach and shoulders relax. 

When we are unaware of how our bodies are responding, our anxieties can feel as though they are taking over and that we have lost control. But tuning in, breathing deep, and recognizing our body’s response, re-centers our mind into a deeper awareness and control. 

This awareness allows us to pause, and turn directions. Recently, when I felt completely anxious and out of control, I was heading down a path of no return. I could have easily let that fear affect my week or the rest of my month. But I paused. I breathed deeply. Became aware of my body’s response. And I turned around. 

Awareness of our body is difficult but vital to understanding our anxiety. Stepping into a new awareness, allows a deeper understanding of our mind and body. 

This week I want to challenge you to a practice that will allow you to step into more awareness. Some people call it deep breathing, and some call it meditation. I will do a future blog post explaining more of this practice. But this week I want you to just try it out. Two minutes each day, pause and take a mental scan of your body. Where do you feel tense? Does that stiffness point to a deeper anxiety? Breathe into a deeper awareness of your body and mind. 

Elyssa Schultheiss