Hilary Jacobs Hendel | The Change Triangle
Listen To Your Body.
Discover Core Emotions.
Connect to Your Authentic Self.
Grounding: A Technique to Reduce Anxiety in the Moment and to help you "hang on" to your authentic Self
It took me a long time to understand what it meant to "ground" myself. The first time I heard it, a supervisor told me to feel my feet on the floor and I remember thinking, "What is that going to do?" Now I understand this simple process as being a goldmine of a resource when it comes to dealing with stress in the moment. I hope this explanation and instructions for grounding will help and encourage you to practice. Grounding is the beginning of how we hang on to ourselves in the midst of an emotional storm and how we avoid being highjacked by another's needs when we are in conflict with them. And it helps us immeasurably when working the Change Triangle.
When working The Change Triangle, we must anticipate experiencing some anxiety. This is normal. And the more we understand our anxiety and can name what emotions are causing it at any given moment, the more capable we will be to help our Self. While education on anxiety doesn't make it go away, it does make it less scary and more predictable.
We all know anxiety is uncomfortable. And we all experience anxiety in different ways. Some people feel jittery, some people feel it in their stomach or intestines, some people feel it in their heart area. Some people feel it in their head in the form of dizziness, headaches, fogginess, confusion and more.
Below are times we can anticipate feeling some anxiety:
When we give up using a defense in favor of dealing with the underlying emotions. For example, lets say I typically avoid (defense) asking for what I want but decide I really would get more from life if I asserted my needs. The first few times I ask for what I want, I will likely have a rise in anxiety.
When core emotions, that we are not used to feeling, arise. For example, if I am frightened of my anger but try to feel it in my body, I will likely get anxious and experience some sort of physical tension or constriction as my anxiety tries to squash or constrict my anger.
When many core emotions or inhibitory emotions or conflicts arise, we are likely to experience anxiety. Again, the mind is trying to block the whole upsetting experience and anxiety is the signal.
When you feel overwhelmed and anxious try this simple quiet grounding practice that you can do anywhere in public or private:
1. Shift from thoughts or images from the past or future to being in the present moment by sensing your feet on the ground. Literally and immediately focus on the soles of your feet, feeling the ground underneath them. This is called grounding. See if you can notice what the floor is made of. Feel the carpet, or wood, or concrete against the soles of your feet. It is as simple as feeling your feet on the floor. The purpose of this is just to get you out of your head and thoughts for a moment and allow you to connect to the earth. You are here, alive and well-enough! If you want to do more, go to step 2.
2. As you sense your feet on the ground, take 5 or more slow, deep breaths using belly breathing. Instructions here! If you want to do more, go to step 3.
3. Without casting judgment, but radically accepting what you find, try to name each and every core emotion under the anxiety. Don't search up in your head using logical thoughts. Instead, search your emotional world which is in your core or rest of your body. Literally ask your Self, "Am I sad?" "Am I angry?" "Am I scared?" "Am I disgusted?" "Am I joyous?" (Yes, Joy can cause anxiety!) "Am I excited?" "Am I sexually excited?"
4. Name and validate each emotion you find. There can be more than one emotion and often there is when anxiety is very high. These emotions can be in conflict like when you love someone and hate them at the same time.Just validate each emotion and let the opposite feelings exist together.
Practice grounding as much as possible. Soon it will start to make sense that this is the way to stay connected to your core, authentic Self in a very physical way.
How I teach grounding and breathing to my clients: a video demonstration
Above is a brief video explaining: What is the Change Triangle?
Play this video to practice grounding and breathing along with me. It usually takes at least 6 deep belly breaths before you feel the shift to more relaxation. be patient with yourself!
Reviews of the Change Triangle Book, "It's Not Always Depression":
“It’s Not Always Depression…” delivers a very important and substantial contribution to self-help books on dealing with life challenges that I am confident will be of great help to so many people, both in therapy communities and, most especially, outside of them. I’ve had the good fortune of previewing an advanced copy of this book and I can vouch for it being an especially clear, coherent, accessible and relatable primer on the value of getting to know and getting more comfortable with our emotions. Using the Change Triangle in day to day life really is a passport to wellbeing and life satisfaction. The author's writing style is approachable, engaging, fun and motivating. For all these reasons, this book is going to be a top, go-to recommendation for my clients, colleagues, friends and family." -Benjamin Lipton, LCSW
"This gets two thumbs up from me. It is incredibly well-organized which is helpful. The key thing about this book, for me, is that this is about working with yourself. This isn't a book to get to learn how to help a friend. It's about how to help yourself. Now once you've done the work, it would be a great book to tell a friend about." -Arwen in N.M.
"This practical and clearly written self-help book written by a gifted therapist helps the reader learn the incredible importance of understanding and accepting our core emotions and the variety of ways we use defenses and other emotions (anxiety, guilt, and shame) to protect us (even though they cause us pain as well).
It is filled with examples from her personal life and her work with patients to help you understand the importance of discovering and accepting your emotional responses and how to use that knowledge to better navigate your life."
-Lawrence Drell, M.D.
“The way you talk about the change triangle has made a real difference for me and a lot of my clients and colleagues. Your clarity takes the sting out of the way we (people) get stuck in defensive feelings and/or frustration with feeling parts that carry negative feelings. Through your eyes, one can begin to see one's relationship with the many characters (parts and people in one's life) with more compassion." - Doris Wolz-Cohen, MFT
“It’s not Always Depression is the most innovative and well-grounded self-help title on depression and beyond I’ve read in years. The Change Triangle may prove an efficient therapeutic tool for both patients and psychotherapists to combat psychological problems by reconnecting the self to its core emotions and basic physical reactions. Moreover, Hilary Jacobs Hendel’s writing is lucid and accessible, which makes her method as clear and practical as you can get in self-help titles.”- Mateusz Chaberski, Acquisitions Editor at Jagiellonian University Press