When things don’t work out…. I have to practice what I preach


You may have heard about the terrible storms that hit the United States this past week. Flooding, tornadoes, people died.

Okay, nothing like that happened to me.  But I got caught in the maelstrom flying back to Boston. The ripple effects of flights cancelled, rescheduled, cancelled again.  It took me 40 hours to get home from a usual 6-8 hour trip.

Last night we were on the plane ready to go (this was the third, or was it the fourth? rescheduled flight) when we were told, “Well, no, after all….. this flight won’t be departing…”

Why do they do this to me?

Hearing that the guy next to me exploded, furiously banging his fist on the armrest, yelling, “why do they do this to me?”  Yup…. I wanted to get as far from him as I could.

Walking back down the jetbridge into the terminal I mulled it out. I certainly wasn’t chipper about the process. Certainly I had a part of me that was really upset, distraught.

There was a part that wondered why on earth this was happening.  I tried to create meaning out of it … and maybe there just wan’t any meaning. Maybe something didn’t work out and it wasn’t personal. …….

The years of putting the Becoming Safely Embodied skills to practice in my life showed me the way. (So many of you wonder if I still use them – YES! They form the foundation, helping me to organize myself when life goes awry.  Here’s how…)

  • Slowing down:    During the day when I felt myself getting upset or caught in the emotional contagion of other’s upset I consistently slowed down instead of firing up.  Activating my parasympathetic nervous system instead of activating the flight/flight threat system.
  • Entering body time by paying close attention to sensations in my body instead of getting caught in the drama and distress all around me.
  • Six Sides of the Breath: helps me a great deal (here’s a link to the practice) helping me ground in my spine soothing the tubular spinal cord chock full of nerves, moving me away from the periphery of my body with what the yogis call pratayhara.
  • Gratitude: part of the choice point practice – always turning toward what feels nourishing instead of orienting toward what’s wrong, what doesn’t work.
  • Learning not to take life personally. Crummy things happen to everyone. If I build a file cabinet of meaning equating crummy things with me life becomes harder to deal with.
  • Developing self-compassion. We all suffer.  Self-compassion helps bring ease when we are in tough places.  [more on self-compassion here and here and here and here]

Slowing down allows us to find choice points.  Life always has options.  They’re hard to find when we’re caught in the maelstrom of life.

I had to actively look for a choice point, to find a nourishing opposite to turn to last night. I guess it was 2 in the morning, when I got yet another text from the airline telling me my flight had been rescheduled – again (…. Can you hear my frustration is leaking……).

My body, tired as it was started revving up, wanting to blame, criticize, judge, make wrong, be upset, angry, rail against the airline and everybody and everything.  Like the angry guy who pounded his fist I had the thought – why is this happening to me?  I could feel myself sliding into negative places, feeling helpless.

Practice kicked in

Because of the many multiple thousands of times I practice what I preach I paused, gulped, recognizing the choice point.  I could also choose to be a victim and stay caught in the slough of despair.

Practice reminded me to notice my internal experience.

Practice helped me slow down and harness this moment.

Practice helped me pause before rapidly engaging in a habitual pattern.

Years of practice had me sit in an inquiry: Who do I want to be right now? What do I want with this moment in time? How do I want to be in this simple life experiment?

I always want more kindness for myself and for others.  Yes…. That I do want.  Sitting with that and breathing that in — softens my belly.   I do feel upset and can write/call/email when I get home – but in this moment, in this present moment, what kind of moment do I want to have?  What kind of interactions do I want to have with others in the midst of this tumult?

That inquiry helped steer me to a place of balance and surprisingly ease and contentment.  As I write this I’m still traveling.  Still on route.  Still not home.  The practices of a lifetime are helping me soften my reactivity, be grateful, express appreciation to all who are serving me and so many thousands of others.

How do you stay balanced?  What do you practice when things don’t work out?  It always helps to hear from others.  If you don’t mind, take a quick moment and leave a comment below on the blog.  It helps me – and others – know how you deal with life.


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21 Responses to “When things don’t work out…. I have to practice what I preach”

  1. Amy December 31, 2015 at 2:09 pm // Reply

    Hope you’re home soon, safe and grateful


    • Deirdre Fay December 31, 2015 at 3:47 pm // Reply

      I am, Amy. Glad to be home. Thanks for your note.


  2. joan goldmann December 31, 2015 at 2:17 pm // Reply

    I am appreciating deeply the embodied energy you bring into the world, Deirdre. Nothing inspires like personal stories that we can all relate to in our humanness. Wishing you the fruits of your practice, dear lady!


    • Deirdre Fay December 31, 2015 at 3:46 pm // Reply

      How very kind of you, Joan! I always thrive in the company of good hearts. Thanks for being one.


  3. Martin December 31, 2015 at 3:35 pm // Reply

    Thank you Deirdre!

    It’s only when we practice what we preach that we can genuinely teach our clients from our beautiful hearts.


    • Deirdre Fay December 31, 2015 at 3:46 pm // Reply

      Ahhhh. I take a deep breath of gratitude, Martin. Thanks for writing.


  4. Laighne December 31, 2015 at 3:50 pm // Reply

    Thank you Deirdre. This is such a great reminder to just stop and reassess our gratitudes when life throws us those pesky curve balls Glad you are safely home!!!


    • Deirdre Fay December 31, 2015 at 3:51 pm // Reply

      Big hug, Laighne! Sending so much appreciation to you.


  5. Sue December 31, 2015 at 5:42 pm // Reply

    Thanks so much for this Deirdre! I so look forward to your posts as I get so much out of them and find so much comfort. I really appreciate your personal experience and how you deal with it. Your post reminds me that I need to stop and breathe… 🙂


    • Deirdre Fay December 31, 2015 at 7:50 pm // Reply

      Wonderful to hear, Sue. Thank you for the connection. I’m grateful I support you — as you are supporting me.


  6. Mary Holscher December 31, 2015 at 5:52 pm // Reply

    Hi Deirde, I love this whole post. It’s such a concrete example (and I’m glad to know you are finally home safe and sound). My son was flying back to New York on Tueday evening and I was worried this kind of thing could happen to him (fortunately, it did not). There’s something so humorously self-centered about the “Why do they do this to me!” man. Not taking bad (or good things, for that matter) that happen to me personally has helped me to maintain my equilibrium when life brings unexpected events. Thanks for your helpful re-cap of the steps you take to stay calm and centered and your emphasis on practice, so that it all comes naturally in times of distress.


    • Deirdre Fay December 31, 2015 at 7:50 pm // Reply

      So nice to read your note, Mary. Thank you. I would love to hear more about how you learned not to take life personally. We all need reinforcement for that! Love you —


  7. Karly December 31, 2015 at 8:15 pm // Reply

    Hi Deidre,

    I imagine your end of year is very full, particularly with working on your book. As the year closes, I wanted to say thank you for the work that you share with the world.

    I especially appreciate how you integrate attachment theory with spirituality, as that speaks to my interest and understanding. Adding your own personal touch and stories makes it personal, compassionate, and inviting. Thank you for sharing your work and your journey!

    Happy New Year!


    • Deirdre Fay December 31, 2015 at 8:45 pm // Reply

      Good to be on the journey with you, Karly. Everyone should know about your work at growinghumankindness.com.
      sending goodness, Deirdre


  8. Betty December 31, 2015 at 8:43 pm // Reply

    Deirdre, I so enjoyed your “When Things Don’t Work Out…….”. Great advice, great timing, great sharing. Thanks.


  9. Pauline Beegan January 1, 2016 at 10:09 am // Reply

    Happy New Year Deirdre!
    It was lovely to read your post today.
    I was to travel back from London yesterday after Christmas with the family and had been recieving texts and emails from the ferry company about cancellations and possible future cancellations due to storm Frank . Having grumbled about the inconsiderate weather and given out about the disinterested customer service….I breathed deeply, prayed to the weather beings and set off on my journey !

    The drive was great 6 hours with 2 dogs has the potential for being difficult but they were great! I was “guided” to turn onto a route where it turned out the weather was less severe and when I got to the ferry terminal they transferred to another company that was sailing so I was home to hear Dublin ring in the new year and a welcome from my neighbours. I felt hugely supported by the notion that when we get past ourselves we open to a universe of possibilities and a great start to 2016.

    Thank you and blessings Deirdre with love Pauline


    • Deirdre Fay January 1, 2016 at 10:54 am // Reply

      Pauline!!! So glad you got home safe and sound and that there were neighbors to welcome you. That’s a treat — only for the wise and wonderful. I love your words… “when we get past ourselves we open to a universe of possibilities..” Yes… may I always remember that mantra when I am caught in the whirlwind of life.

      Happy New Year to you dear friend. May the blessings of life shower down on you in this coming year. Deirdre


  10. Andy January 2, 2016 at 3:36 pm // Reply

    Deirdre, I was reading your work when The Universe decided to give me ANOTHER test lesson. A call from my student son’s employer expressing concern for his welfare after he reported sick then became uncontactable whilst holding an important building access key. Triggered a memory of a flatmate of his tragically dying in his sleep 2 years ago then a call to the police after no friends could contact him, nor anyone else by txt, phone, email, Facebook. Etc. Police applied ‘aural valium’ to panicking Dad. I had an hour of fighting demons from childhood traumas that say the Universe is hostile, not helpful. I lit a candle and looked at childhood pictures of him and his sister whilst breathing in hopeful expectation and exhaling anxiety. Glad to write that All Is Well and that’s the case 99% of the time when I dial my internal 999 [British call code for emergency 911 stuff]. Now I just need to deal with that pesky 1%….

    Hope to meet you in Glasgow in April, Deidre, to express my gratitude for all the emails that have uplifted me as I worked to rewire my brain so I could actually attempt The Practice and not just cling to The Theory. Hello to the rest of this lovely little online community of folk. Love the comments almost as much as the articles. Happy New Year to you all! ps: My son is REALLY annoyed that Dad nearly got his door kicked in by the Police, to which my response is L.O.L.



    • Deirdre Fay January 4, 2016 at 9:18 am // Reply

      Always great to hear from you, Andy. You have such a good way of dealing with triggers. As you say, it does take time, in your case an hour, combating those old patterns of the Universe being hostile. Really glad to hear that All is Well.

      Would love to meet you in Glasgow, Andy. Keep rewiring!!! I love how you write, “attempt The Practice and not just cling to The Theory.” Delightful. Yes, I love the comments as well. Heart warming to know there are others we can all connect to. Here’s to a good year of Practice 🙂


  11. Deirdre Fay January 4, 2016 at 9:24 am // Reply

    Wonderful to hear from you. I remember you from that course and thought of you sometime recently wondering how you were doing. So nice to hear from you and to know you are doing so well. Fills my heart to know you are well and that I was able to contribute to your wellbeing. Blessed be.

    Here’s to a good 2016.
    Sending goodness,


  12. Deirdre Fay January 4, 2016 at 9:27 am // Reply

    Hi Deirdre

    I received your latest newsletter and was reminded of the massive shift you helped me with about 3 years ago. I was on your BSE online course, used the materials. It truly was a revelation that my body had sensations, which were different from emotions- I still come back to this in my life now.

    I still struggle from time to time, but life is so much better than it was. So much better. We do recover.

    Thanks again for your inspiring and life changing work.


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