We all know what this means. Ab work.
And, if you have a trainer, you might learn quickly that having a strong core is not just ab work. It is strengthening all the muscles, including the abdominals so that we are strong in all our movements. Our entire body benefits and becomes sturdy, durable and protected so it will function optimally throughout the day.
It is the same with your emotional and mental capacities. How do we develop a sturdy, durable and well-protected emotional system so it will function optimally throughout the day?
Body. Mind. Same Process?
As a practitioner who has attended to both the body and mind/emotions, I notice a pattern.
When our body is telling us something, we tend to ignore it for a while. We get whispers of pain. Things happen and we don’t pay attention. Often for years. Often we ignore the signals until life becomes un-doable. Either we can’t pick up our kids, carry our groceries, get up the stairs, or out of bed. Then we are moved to take action.
And even then, we want to ‘fix it fast’. As a chiropractor, I heard the same question over and over. “How many sessions do I need?” If I replied with “You need 6 months of intensive change of activity and care,” people were concerned that my reply had more to do with me wanting them to come to the office than them actually getting better. Truth is, I don’t know the answer to the question, and no one can really know the answer as it will be different for everyone. Truth is, it will likely take way more than 6 months.
When our emotions are telling us something, there is an additional step. First we must notice that our emotions are telling us something. We have been educated to think that when we are unhappy, it is something outside of us —it is them, that is the cause of our distress.
Nothing to see here!?
It is when we can finally ‘see’ that it is something inside of us that is the cause of our distress [and our happiness, btw] then we can take the next step. Knowing what our needs are. Our longings, our desire, the experience we are hoping for. This is our core.
So core-strengthening exercises are essential. Otherwise we are destined to suffer. What is the emotional analogy to not being able to live life fully? The emotional correlation of ‘not being able to get up the stairs’? Maybe depression. Maybe consistent complaining, feeling lonely, unable to enjoy many or most of our relationships.
Knowing that 'what you long for' is the ‘cause of your feelings’ is the outcome of emotional core-strengthening exercises.
Like with the body, it might take a bit more time than you are hoping to strengthen your core. In my opinion, it is the single best thing you can do to have the life you say you want. Put in the time, put in the effort. Practice, practice, practice. If you are 30 years old, and you put a year of intensive training in, or even three years, then you have 50+ years of having the emotional/mental strength that is required to have a super-satisfying life.
Say This, Not That
When I was a kid, my brother and I played a game called Broken Record. It must have been pivotal in my development, because now I am like a broken record.
This is what you will hear me say, in a variety of ways, over and over:
Next time you are upset, please stop, take a breath, and ask yourself, “What is important to me, that I am longing for, which is causing my distress? What are my needs?"
Next time you are super-happy, please stop, take a breath, and ask yourself, “What is important to me that I am savoring, that is causing my delight?” [Maybe more important, because both parties are super happy when we assign the cause to the other person. So likely no one is remembering that the cause of your feelings is your own.]
Here are links to 2 worksheets that you can use as core strengthening exercises.
Please use these!