Using Your Life Line
Sep 04, 2022
It’s Labor Day Weekend. It could be the only weekend of the year I ever intentionally watch college football, not because I don’t like football; I just don’t like watching sports on TV. I’d rather play them.
Anyway, of the games I watched, they were exciting, but I was very bewildered by the coaching decisions that seemed to make the games more exciting than they should have been. I know, it’s super easy to armchair quarterback or coach when you’re a few hundred miles away from the game. A bird’s eye view, or a detached view from the actual incident (game), offers more clarity and a whole lot less stress. When you’re not emotionally invested in something, when you’re not in the middle of chaos, solutions just seem to come a lot easier.
Have you ever noticed that? When you’re in the middle of a crisis, a fight, or a tension-filled situation, have you ever wanted to make a good decision or find a good solution, but instead, you stuck your foot in your mouth or made a “bone-head” move? It happens to all of us. When we are in the middle of a seemingly significant event, we can’t see our way out of the forest because all we can see is the tree right in front of our faces.
And yet, when it’s not you, when it’s someone else in the thick of life, you can clearly see several solutions that would be helpful and beneficial to them. Your detachment gives you clarity.
And that’s why we need friends.
A good friend with a listening ear can often offer us clarity when we just don’t know what to do in times of tension. Another perspective from someone detached from the situation, though not detached from you, can really be a lifeline when you need to make the best step forward.
But, to use that friend in those times of need, we actually need to be able to pause and collect ourselves long enough to seek their counsel. And that is so hard to do. When we are in the thick of an event, when tensions are high, it’s so hard to “press pause,” take a breath and live to fight another day. Instead, we are likely to hold our breath or lose control of it and irrationally erupt into action or words that sabotage our best intentions and best paths forward.
And that’s why we need to know how to breathe.
Knowing how to breathe, or even knowing when we need to breathe, is the best way to press pause and allow ourselves the hope of momentary detachment. If we can press pause in the middle of a life storm with our breath, we have an opportunity to get a bird’s eye view and see a way out of the storm. Heck, a deliberate deep breath is your best chance to remove the trees from your eyes so you can see the paths through the forest.
Phoning a friend in the middle of an event can be pretty tough. Having the patience to leave and wait to go talk to a friend during crucial life conversations and events may not be practical. Though, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’d like to take some time to think about this situation before I offer my response.” But a deep diaphragmatic breath can give us the separation we need. It can literally take us from “right to fight” (fight or flight phase) to peace and clarity of mind (rest and digest phase).
When it comes to trying to make the best decisions during times of stress, we need the creative vision that only calm, detached clarity can provide. We need to be able to use our breath to help provide this clarity. And when practical, we should seek the counsel and ear of a trusted, loving friend - someone who loves us enough to listen and provide us with options - someone we love enough to honestly listen to when they are trying to help us.
Don’t get lost in stress and tension. Don’t let your emotions sabotage your thoughts. Don’t fight or flight when you need to stand and listen. Or, to stay congruent with how this post started, don’t throw a pass when you need to take a knee. Instead, breathe yourself to clarity. And when you can, lean on your friends for insights and perspectives. This, too, is our design. We are here to lift one another up so that we can clearly see the best path forward for all of us.