You’re zooming along with your daily activities and notice that something feels off, not quite right. It’s a vague feeling, one that says you’re getting thrown off balance. Maybe it’s a feeling of irritability, fatigue or being easily distracted. You could just ignore it and forge ahead. But that usually leads to drifting off course, away from your own center, creating even more of a wobble with your inner balance. This is not a great strategy!

The alternative is to pause and ask, “What is going on?” The answer might be obvious, or it might take another minute or two for the issue to come into focus. Here are three questions you could ask to help identify what that threw you off course.

1. What Is Going On Physically?

Check in especially with what I call the holy trinity of self-care: ingestion, movement and rest (aka eat, exercise, sleep). Try doing a quick body scan of how you feel. Ask yourself if you’re hungry or thirsty. Did you just consume something that isn’t settling well? Is your body achy or in pain from too little, too much, or not the right kind of movement? Are you tired? (Most Americans are, since we are chronically sleep deprived). Or do you need to pause and just rest for a bit?

Paying attention to your body can lead to amazing revelations and often you can respond and feel better right away. If there is something more that needs attention, a body scan will put it on your radar to attend to.

2. What Is Going On Emotionally?

Sometimes the thing that is throwing you off is a feeling or set of feelings that are uncomfortable or difficult to accept in yourself. If you do a quick emotional scan, you can bring what you’re feeling into focus. To do this, check in with what you feel in your gut and in your heart. Ask yourself, are you feeling angry? Lonely? Guilty? Frustrated? Jealous? Sad? Embarrassed? Afraid? None of these are pleasant to feel, yet when we give them our attention, they often settle down. And more importantly, once you notice what you’re feeling, the emotions are less likely to hijack you and take you down a path you don’t want to go on.

3. What Is Going On Situationally?

This is where you look at what is happening around you. Look at the situation, the behaviors of those around you, and how you’re responding. Let’s say you walk into a meeting feeling fine until a certain individual enters the room, or speaks. Then you begin to feel uneasy, agitated, or defensive. This is worth noticing! Or you’re walking down a street and start to feel a little spooked. This is the time to look around and pay attention to how safe you are at that moment, and what you can do about it. A situational scan will help you take note of people and places that should be on your radar. If something is amiss, you’ll be way better off knowing it.

The question “What is going on?” is a big one. It opens many doors. It brings up information that can be simple or very complex. It starts with a pause and being present to what is happening in the moment. Then you can discover what threw you off in the first place. Sometimes the solution will be straightforward and other times it be more complex. But by identifying what is going on, you’ll have the option of responding in a way that can bring you back to balance, and to a happier existence.

Barbara Bouchet
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