You are walking up a mountain path. You are carrying a large bowl of water which is nearly but not quite full up. You can't see the full path in front of you because of the bowl. Every now and then you stumble, tripping over a stone or dip in the rough path. When this happens the water in the bowl begins to swish around and some spills over. All your focus is on the water now. It's all you can see.
If you can still yourself, and slow down a little or even stop, you know that the water will settle down. When it's flowing over your hands and spilling onto the ground it's hard to believe that it will ever stop.
When we are walking along in our lives and something unexpected upsets our poise- some bad news, a friend's
misunderstanding, a stranger's anger, or a mood just comes over us from nowhere, our emotions can be stirred like the water in the bowl. It feels like our emotions are all there is. It is hard to believe we will ever feel normal again. Yet our emotions are just like the water, they are the reaction to what has happened and they will change again if something else happens. In that moment of spilling and overflowing, we are convinced that we will always feel like this and that our calm will never return.
So as with water,
1 Slow down
2 Know that no emotion can last forever as Maya Angelou says, "Every Storm runs out of rain".
3 Breathe in for 4 and out for 6 for a minute or two. This will calm the nervous system and give your emotions something new and soothing to react to.
The bowl of water always settles, eventually.
And we all know that the best way to carry a bowl of anything without spilling is to focus not on the bowl but on the path ahead.