I’ve included this chapter because it’s like the secret ingredient to success. If you can employ the tools and techniques I show you in this chapter throughout your work with your animal, it’s going to make everything easier, smoother, clearer—and yes, faster! Energy management is one of my favorite things to teach because I’ve both experienced personally and witnessed in thousands of clients the powerful shifts that it can make. You, on the other hand, will probably want to ignore this chapter feeling that you don’t need it, but I want to strongly impress upon you how valuable energy management is to the entire Animal Lessons process! Most people immediately discount the idea of managing their energy either as something that is unnecessary or as something only hippies from the ’60s would ever do. They believe they can power through their emotions without bothering to deal with them. I, on the other hand, look at energy management as the biggest key to success in working with animals and really in any internal, consciousness self-work. Yes, it’s that important!
In almost any class I’m teaching—whether it’s about animal communication, animals and the other side, guru animals, soul contracts, relationship improvement, or anything else—there is always at least a pretty firm nod toward energy management. Energy management, for the purposes of this book (and for the purposes of all work that I do), is simply working to maintain an emotional, mental, and energetic balance within yourself. When you are in a place of the best balance (what I like to call “the zone”), you’ll find that you can make decisions more easily; you’ll have deeper, more complete relationships; you’ll feel better and believe better about yourself; and overall, you’ll experience your life as easier. And this is no exaggeration of what energy management can do for you.
Balance is the most crucial aspect of energy management, but it probably doesn’t look like you would expect. Think of someone walking on a balance beam. They spread their arms out to the side and wobble a little bit, to the left and right, to maintain their balance as they go. This is exactly how energy management works. It is not a consistent feeling of total calm and awesomeness within that never changes. Instead, it is constant adjustments, some large and some small, all coming together to create the balance. A little happier, a little less upset, a little more determined … each of these things is an emotional adjustment that you’ll make as you strive to find your balance again and again and again.
When you lack energetic and emotional balance, it can be very difficult to do your work with your animal, and it can also be a challenge just to make it through your day. When you allow yourself to be overcome by money anxiety, to worry that so-and-so doesn’t like you, or to feel chaos throughout your home, you’re missing the opportunity to balance your energy and benefit from the lessons behind these things instead. Additionally, when your energy isn’t balanced—when you feel a sense of dread about your job, for example—you may find it difficult to see things clearly and make good decisions.
Imagine you are hanging out with your best friend Sherry, and you’re both in pharmaceutical drug sales. Now, Sherry, being the “talker” that she is, talks at you for twenty minutes about her incredible sales record. She mentions that the head of the company sought her out the other day to personally congratulate her and how several other companies are courting her. As you are listening to this, let’s say it strikes a nerve and you begin to feel inadequate. You’re listening to her and nodding your head, but inside you’re thinking, “Why doesn’t anyone congratulate me? I wish that would happen for me!” and other similar thoughts. That downward spiral of thought and the negative emotions that come along with it aren’t signs that you are a horrible salesperson who is inappropriately jealous of your friend’s success. Instead these thoughts are signs, specific messages from your body, that it’s time to manage your energy and bring yourself back into balance.
When you’re sitting in negative emotions like jealousy and victimhood as described in the example with Sherry above, it becomes very hard to make a decision that is truly for your greatest and highest good about how to react, what to say, and even around what you feel. Here you are, stewing in this jealousy, knowing that the “right” thing to do is to support your friend Sherry and her success at her job—do you really think you’re going to handle this situation in the best possible way? The answer is no. Of course you’re not going to make great decisions about this! If you feel this jealousy, ignore it, and say, “That’s great, Sherry,” now you’re not only ignoring your own feelings, you’re also being untrue to what you’re experiencing within. If you decide to say nothing instead, you’ll be censoring yourself and your feelings and potentially making Sherry feel bad about her own success.
When you manage your energy because you’re experiencing something that is upsetting you, the energy management itself will soften or shift this upset and replace it with thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are more helpful to your situation. In the Sherry example, instead of continuing to feel jealous, you could come to a place of acceptance around her success and feel genuine happiness for her while also using that acceptance and happiness to motivate you to push yourself a bit more in the future, or perhaps you could say to her, “Wow, I’m so impressed! I’m jealous, but I’m also impressed!”
But this takes real, solid energy management. Not “name only” energy management. How many times have you read in a book about a great grounding exercise, heard a friend talk about a new meditation that she just loves, or listened to someone on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday mention their new technique accessing the stillness within—and then you’ve followed their directions to a tee, but that calm never occurred within you? This phenomenon is something that I see all the time in my private practice. You could learn about the hottest energy management tool from the coolest, biggest name in the self-help industry, you could set out to practice it and become obsessed with doing it well, you could make a complete and utter commitment to it, and yet it could just plain not work for you.
Every energy management technique does not work for every person, just like every type of physical exercise does not work to get every person in shape. It’s that simple. As you’re learning about energy management, you want to pay strong attention to whether or not the technique actually worked. Did you really feel calmer afterward? Did it really help you come into a place of more clarity within, or do you feel better mostly because you followed directions and did what is supposed to make you feel more grounded? Doing something because you’re supposed to, because it’s what you committed to, because everyone else is gaining positive experiences from it, or because of any reason other than it actually had the desired positive effect is not true energy management. That’s following the rules for the sake of the rules rather than developing the awareness of yourself within to determine if what you’re doing is having the desired effect. What really counts in energy management is that whatever weird, crazy thing you chose to do is something that can create an emotional, energetic, and mental change for the better within you.
Interestingly though, true energy management means you can never operate on autopilot. Once you find something that works for you, something that restores you to a place of balance within, or something that makes you feel peaceful and happy, that tool may not continue to work for you indefinitely or even consistently. In fact, it’s very likely that that tool will only work some of the time! Energy management tools are based on your own energetic and emotional state, and this isn’t something that can be fudged. If you’re at an 8 for anxiety on a scale of 1–10, with 10 being an insane amount of anxiety, you’re going to choose a very different tool for rebalancing than if you’re at a 4. The tool that balances you at an 8 will most likely be a big-gun tool, and it may even take a little longer to complete than the tool that balances you at a 4, which might just be a quickie that you can do while sitting in your cubicle at the office.
Energy management is certainly about the tools you choose to use, but there is another component to it. This component creates the success and will pay off for you as you work with your animal and develop it: awareness. How can you decide what tool to use to manage your energy if you don’t realize that your energy is in need of management? It’s important that you are always paying attention to how you’re feeling rather than just running through the motions of what has worked in the past.
There are so many people in the world who believe how they feel emotionally and mentally throughout the day is the only option. If they think about it at all, they think, “It is what it is, and this is just the way I am.” Many anxious people, for example, believe their anxiety is simply part of their personality. Many angry people consider themselves as just that, angry. If you asked these people to describe themselves, most of them would describe that unmanaged energy as their personality. “I’m a very anxious person” or “I get mad at the drop of a hat” would feel pretty normal to these people to say. This really isn’t the case, though. We are not our emotions. My emotions do not make me who I am, and I ensure, every day, that by managing my energy, my emotions do not drive my decisions or run the show. But to do this well, you have to have an awareness of what unmanaged energy is and when it is showing up. To manage your energy and to work well with your animal, you’re going to have to develop an awareness of yourself that most people go their whole life without developing—not because it’s hard to do, but because they have no idea it is something to be done at all.
When personal energy is functioning well, the average person will feel clear, calm, balanced, and powerful, and this is the state that we’re all striving to be in as much as possible. That person who is energetically balanced will also feel happiness, confidence, and many other positive emotions. And it’s when we’re in this emotional/energetic state that we’re really functioning at our best.
Challenges arise in every person’s life, however, and these challenges often throw off a person’s energy. This is very natural, but if you don’t know how to handle it, those challenges and the subsequent wonky emotional/energetic state that results can start to guide your life in very negative ways. Think of a time when you’ve been in a good mood, feeling pretty optimistic about your life and enjoying your day, only to end up spending time with someone who is a Negative Ninny. You know the type—they view everything through a “poor me” filter, for example. After a little bit of hanging out with the Negative Ninny, you’re probably feeling less positive, maybe a little more angry, and even a bit down. As a result of hanging out with this person, you may even feel off for days! This is because your wonderful, balanced energy has been disrupted by the energy of the Negative Ninny, and unless you do something about it, you could stay feeling “off” for quite some time.
Your emotions are always reflected in your energetic state, so I tend to use these two words interchangeably. For example, if your emotions are angry, your energetic state will most likely reflect that by bouncing all over the place. Similarly, if you’re feeling insecure, your energy will be small and hidden, reflecting how you’re feeling that lack of confidence. When you are fully in the zone, your energy looks beautiful. Imagine that you have all these sparkles around you—silver, gold, and full of light. (In my mind, they look very much like the sparks flying off a child’s Fourth of July sparkler.) Those sparks are organized, and they move in unison around your body, following a kind of inner flow and dance.
When you’re angry, those sparks take on that angry energy emanating from you, and they begin moving as if they are angry. Similarly, when you are sad, the sparks move as if they are depressed, traveling slowly and more erratically around your body. I know it may seem weird to think of your energy in this manner, but understanding it through this lens will help you develop a fuller, deeper awareness of yourself and your emotions so that you can go deeper in your human-animal relationship work.
There’s another thing that happens as we go through our day: some of our sparks can get left off in other places. Let’s say you had a particularly upsetting conversation with your boss, you got very angry with the man in the grocery store, or another car almost hit you and startled you while you were backing your car out of the parking spot. When something like this happens, we tend to scatter some of our energy. You’ll know when you’ve done this because it usually happens through an emotional moment. Another sign that you’ve scattered your energy is simply that you feel chaotic or like you can’t quite get a handle on things in your life.
All of this means that your energy is affecting your emotions, and your emotions are affecting your energy. Luckily for us, it also means that when you shift one of those, you’ll be shifting the other. Also luckily for us, returning your energy and emotions to their best, most calm, in-the-zone state isn’t very hard; it just takes knowing what to do and then actually doing it. (I have met people who have learned about this but never moved into the actual managing the energy part. Your energy will not be managed just because you learn that it needs to be. It requires you to take the real-life steps.)
I’m going to show you what it feels like when you’re in your most calm, clear, balanced state possible so that you can have a baseline to compare yourself to. You’d be amazed at how many people have never experienced themselves in this amazing, peaceful, powerful energetic state and in fact had no idea that it was even possible. I’m going to teach you two very simple, very potent tools for bringing yourself back to center. The first tool will be a little more familiar than the second tool. When you move into the second technique, get ready! You’ll need to suspend your belief a bit and put yourself into a “just go with the flow” mindset. This is because what I have to show you is goofy, slightly awkward, and maybe even a little embarrassing. But on the flip side, it’s really helpful!
Belly Breathing Technique
This first exercise is simple, and yet not exactly. When people who are stressed out, fearful, anxious, worried, or scared breathe, they tend to use only the top part of their lungs. This is because when our bodies move into fight-or-flight mode (something has happened and you need to either take it on or run away), our breathing follows suit. Imagine running around a track. As you increase your speed, it gets harder and harder to take long, slow, deep breaths. The faster you run, the more your body naturally wants to move into shorter breathing that is higher in your chest.
While breathing high up in your chest works well in times of stress, it doesn’t work so well for relaxation. Short, high breaths do not promote relaxation. Just give it a try right now to see what I mean. Put the book down, close your eyes, and start taking quick, fast, short breaths. Try to do this for a full minute and then stop and notice how you feel. Do you feel relaxed? Do you feel calm? Probably not—in fact, after breathing like this in a non-stressful situation, many people will say they feel light-headed, dizzy, more anxious, and even irritable.
The other challenge that people run into around their breathing is simply habit—and in this case, it’s bad habits. The mind doesn’t make a distinction between stress and anxiety caused by an environmental factor (for example, a car driving toward you erratically as you are crossing the street) and an emotional factor (such as lying in bed worrying about money). Both of these experiences can activate the fight or flight response with you, which means both of these experiences will cause your breathing pattern to change from normal (longer, slower breaths) to fight-or-flight breathing (the shorter, high, choppy breaths we’ve been talking about). This means that more often than you realize, you’re probably doing fight-or-flight breathing—even when it’s not necessarily necessary. You certainly don’t need to prepare to fight when you’re lying in bed worrying about the bills!
The Belly Breathing Technique will teach you how to use your breathing to move out of any fight-or-flight response in order to reach a place of calm and clarity. It’s very simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy! If you’re someone who has been unknowingly breathing at the top of your lungs for years, it could turn out to be just a little tricky to master the technique. But once you rid yourself of this bad habit, you’ll find that it’s easier than ever to bring yourself into that state of calm.
Before beginning the technique, take stock of yourself. How do you feel right now in this very moment? How does your body feel? How do your thoughts move? Would you describe them as focused? Linear? Jumpy? Chaotic? It’s always a great idea to know your starting point before you do any technique because that is what will let you most successfully evaluate the effectiveness of what you’ve done afterward.
Once you’ve taken stock, you’re ready to begin. The first few times you perform this technique, you probably want to be alone, free of distractions. This is solely because you’re going to need to concentrate, and a TV or a boss in the background can easily pull attention from what you’re doing. Start by placing the palms of each hand against the sides of your rib cage. As you look down at your torso, it might look like you’ve placed your hands in such a way as to squeeze your rib cage smaller, but that is not what we’re going to do.
Now, with your eyes closed, begin to inhale through your nose. As you inhale through your nose, expand your ribs outward. As you do this, your hands will move outward as well. Imagine that within your ribs is a balloon that you are filling with your inhalation. Remember to keep this breath long and slow. When you have fully inhaled, just pause for a moment and then simply exhale through your mouth. As you exhale, your ribs and hands should return to the starting position.
People often run into challenges with this breathing technique because that pesky ol’ fight-or-flight habit is hanging on. When your breathing is guided by the fight-or-flight response, your inhalation also pulls your stomach in not out, as I’m talking about here. Pulling your stomach in on the inhalation is what allows someone to breathe in the top of their lungs. You may find that my asking you to expand your ribcage on the inhalation feels exactly backward—and if that’s the case for you, you simply need to retrain your breathing back to normal through the Belly Breathing Technique. Yes, that’s right—the Belly Breathing Technique is really only helping you remember what normal, relaxed, healthy breathing is like.
Try belly breathing now for five to seven breaths. It may take you a few breaths to get the hang of it, but there is no hurry here. In fact, hurrying belly breathing would be the opposite of what I’m teaching you. Remember to go long and slow, inhale through your nose, and allow your ribcage to expand. Pause. Slowly exhale and allow your ribcage to return to normal. Your hands can act as a visual guide as you practice, but don’t worry. Eventually, you won’t need your hands, and you’ll be able to use this tool wherever you are without looking crazy.
When you have spent thirty seconds or so performing the technique well, you can simply stop. Keeping your eyes closed (in the beginning—as you get better you can open your eyes), go back and take stock of how you feel. How does your body feel? How does your breathing feel? How are the thoughts moving through your head? How does the air around you feel? If you notice any changes in this, those changes are most likely going to be positive, such as feeling calmer, softer, taller, easier, stronger … and they are a sign that you are in the zone and good to go. If you don’t feel any changes, you may need to redo the tool or you may need to move on to another tool, such as the Star Wars Rewind Tool, which I’m about to teach you next.
Please know that there will be days when you can do belly breathing for ten seconds, it will reset your energy, and you’ll feel great. There will be other days when you can do belly breathing four times in a row, and you’re just not getting into the zone. That is okay, and that is why I’m teaching you another technique. In the end, anything that you can do that helps you feel calmer, more peaceful, easier, and more thoughtful could be considered an energy management technique. What I’m teaching you here is just what I’ve found works best for the greatest number of people.
Star Wars Rewind Tool
If you’re aware of pop culture in any way and if you’re an adult of pretty much any age, you’ve probably heard of or seen the Star Wars movies. This tool builds on something that is very common in the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica series, as well as pretty much any other movie in which ships travel through space and shoot each other. Even if you haven’t seen one of these movies, I’m sure you can imagine one ship shooting at another ship in space, and when the shot hits, the targeted ship explodes, scattering its pieces all throughout the universe. Just look up something like “Death Star explosion original” on YouTube to get a good visual of what I’m talking about here, as this is the principle we’re going to use for this tool.
Except we’re going to do it backward.
Before you close your eyes to begin this exercise, imagine you’re a ship in space and you’ve been hit by an enemy missile or laser or whatever it is that you’re thinking of. Upon impact, bits and pieces of you (your energy) were scattered throughout the universe. This has been making you feel less organized, less confident, more spacey, less present, and many other negative things. When the pieces of you are scattered throughout the universe, it’s very hard to be in the zone, accessing your awesomeness, loving yourself, enjoying those around you, liking your work, and so on.
So what you are going to do, once you close your eyes to begin the technique, is rewind the explosion. That’s right: think of yourself as a Star Wars–type spaceship that was hit by enemy fire, and rewind it just as if you hit the rewind button on the movie. This is exactly what you’re going to do by using your imagination, just like a little kid would—without judgment, without worrying whether or not you’re doing it right. Just go for it.
In your mind’s eye, watch each piece of your energy (or each part of your spaceship) as it careens back through space toward you and then gently lands within you, in exactly the right spot. Imagine that some pieces are coming back to you very quickly and directly with speed and force until they quietly land, while other pieces take longer—perhaps they spin or twirl before they remember their rightful home within your energy body. Remember to imagine the pieces of your energy coming back from behind you, above you, down by your feet, etc. If your energy is scattered, it’s not just scattered in one area; it’s scatted throughout your body.
As you continue imagining each piece zooming back to your center, notice that you’re feeling stronger, fuller, and more badass. Yes, I’m using the word badass! But this is an accurate assessment of what many people have told me they start to feel as their energy returns to them. A lot of people equate badassness with feeling whole and complete, as there is a certain amount of inner power within that starts to become apparent. Wait until you feel that all the pieces that are going to come back to you in this moment have returned, and then sit for a moment feeling this before opening your eyes to experience the difference in feeling, emotion, and energy. In the past, people have told me they felt taller, bigger, longer, fuller, and more solid. They’ve said that they felt like their eyes were suddenly more open and clear and that they were less tired and happier, even!
Do you see how doing this little exercise that works on your energy also shifted your emotions? Your energy and your emotions are so intimately connected, and that’s the beauty of this system. When we shift one, we shift the other. And, boy, is this going to come in handy in this work! Imagine that you’re working with your animal, but your energy is chaotic and scattered. It would be hard to notice any messages from your animal when you’re feeling dizzy, chaotic, unsure, and more.
When you’re first learning the Star Wars Rewind Tool, it will take you about four minutes to complete it, but as you get better and better at it, that time will decrease. At this point in my life, when I’ve been doing this for more than fifteen years, the exercise takes me about ten seconds. I use it when I feel funky or off and before I meet with any client as well.
Additionally, as you’re working with this exercise, it’s also important that you set realistic expectations. Don’t expect that you’re going to pull every single bit of your energy back from every single place it’s scattered. We’re all human, and we all have things going on in our lives that affect us—and so there is no way you’re ever going to achieve 100 percent completely re-formed energy. I’ve never achieved that, and I don’t know anyone who has. Instead, just go by the feel. When you feel you’ve accepted as much of your energy back as you’re going to get in this session, simply allow things to wind down, and sit and experience the positive effects of what you just did. Remember to sit for a minute or two to really enjoy the fruits of your labor before returning to your regular day. Even though it only takes me ten seconds to call my energy back, I always give myself time to feel the shift I just created. I notice what my emotions are; I notice whether I feel fuller or more whole or stronger. Sometimes I may go too fast or become distracted while I’m using the tool, and it’s the checking at the end that shows me. If I didn’t shift how I was feeling through the tool, I know I need to go back and do it again or try another tool.
So this is really all that energy management is. It’s the simple idea of noticing when you are feeling wonky, weird, off, emotional, worried, overstimulated, or anything else that may not make it easy for you to be in the zone, and then it’s taking a step (in this case, using the Star Wars Rewind Tool) to shift yourself into a better state of being both emotionally and energetically. The nice part about this type of work is that it doesn’t require huge chunks of time. In the beginning it may be four minutes at a time, but as you get better and better, you’re probably looking at a minute to do the tool and a minute to feel your accomplishments. This means that tools like this become accessible at almost any time. You can easily grab two minutes during your workday—just by sitting in your cubicle or stopping in your car at a stoplight—to do a little Star Wars Rewind.
Energy management has been made out to be a very time-consuming, big-deal thing. In reality, it isn’t.
How to Know When to Do Energy Management
Now that you’ve learned what to do when your energy is off, it would be good to start focusing on how to know when your energy is off. I taught you that Star Wars Rewind Tool because I wanted you to experience what it was like to be in the zone. That feeling you had after doing the Star Wars Rewind is the feeling of being in the zone. To know when it would be a good time to use the Star Wars Rewind, you must simply begin noticing when you are not in the zone.
Detecting when you’re in and out of the zone can be challenging at first. Like most people, you’ve probably lived most of your life being mostly out of the zone. Fortunately, once you learn that the zone exists and what it feels like, it can be very easy to develop the awareness necessary to get yourself back into the zone when you’ve noticed you’re out of it. You’re already experiencing what out of the zone feels like every day; it’s just time to start putting some words and action to it. Here are a few examples that others have come up with for signals that they are out of the zone:
• You start worrying about the end of the world.
• You cry at almost every Facebook post you read about an animal.
• You snap at your partner.
• You worry that your car is unlocked and that someone is going to break in, even though you already checked it.
• You wake up in the middle of the night worried about money.
• You say “I can’t” a lot.
• You start comparing yourself to others.
• You find yourself judging everyone who walks by.
• When you drive your car, every other driver around you is an idiot.
These are only a few common examples of being out of the zone. In my private practice, I’ve had my clients and my students spend a week just taking note of when they are and aren’t in the zone. Inevitably, what seems like a momentous task in the beginning (figuring out the signs) becomes very easy within the first few days. Most people start to appreciate patterns in their thoughts or behavior that clearly indicate whenever they are out of the zone, and you will too.
Here’s one last thing about energy management. I’ve taught you the Belly Breathing Technique and the Star Wars Rewind Tool, but there are millions of tools out there that can help you do this. It’s important that you find a handful of tools that really work for you so that you can pick and choose what to use in the moment. These tools will not work in every situation—sometimes you’re going to need a different tool. This is why it’s a good idea to have a few tried and true methods. Especially since, as you develop this new awareness of yourself, you’re going to have more and more opportunities to manage your energy!
Remember to have realistic expectations here as well. We are all human. We are all going through our own challenges, learning our own lessons, and experiencing our own lives. This means that at any given time you have at least one thing going on that is going to give you pause, and it will create emotional and energetic shifts. Experiencing emotion is not a bad thing. The goal in energy management is not to remain totally peaceful, calm, and happy all the time. Who can do that? I know I can’t, and you shouldn’t expect that you can either. The goal is only to notice when you’re not in the zone, when an emotion has overridden your balance, and then do what you’ve now learned to do in order to bring yourself back to the zone. So just give yourself a break, have a good time with it, and start managing, maintaining, and watching. Energy management is not a one-and-done situation. It’s an ongoing overseeing of your emotional state that you’ll do (and I’ll do) again and again for the rest of your life. Eventually, it will be as natural as brushing your teeth.
Case Study: Sandy Smith and Energy Management
I first met Sandy Smith at the Fort Lauderdale airport. As I was standing at the ticket counter checking in for my upcoming flight (I was taking a group of people to Bimini to swim with the wild dolphins), I suddenly heard behind me, “Oh! It’s you! I’ve been following you on Facebook forever! I’m so excited for this trip! It’s so funny to see you here! I’ve been getting your newsletters for years!”
I turned around to see a middle-aged woman with a smile about to burst from her face. Clearly accompanying and supporting her, and carrying most of the bags, was a much more sedate-looking man, Sandy’s husband, Rich.
“Hi, Danielle! I’m Sandy! We’re coming to Bimini with you to swim with the dolphins! We’re so excited! I told my husband he had to come, and so he came and …”
I started to say hello but quickly had to turn back to the desk agent to finish checking in. The woman at the counter politely explained where my next flight would be, how to get there, how much time I had, what to do with my baggage—all that stuff. As I was listening to her, Sandy continued on behind me, “And we have this camera that we just bought and I’m so excited! My husband has snorkeled before, and he …”
And she kept talking excitedly, happy, and very animatedly.
The station agent had to repeat herself a couple times because I kept turning around to acknowledge my new, very excited student behind me. Once I finished checking in, I told Sandy I would see her at the gate and went on to get breakfast and wait for the rest of the group to arrive. This was my first time taking a group to Bimini, and while I waited, I looked out the window, eating my banana, wondering if everyone was going to be that excited.
I was taking a group of twelve people on this trip, so I knew it would be intimate. That meant, to me at least, that everyone was going to have to learn how to manage their emotions and their energy. No animal wants a dozen overly excited people approaching them with cameras and squeals and splashes and anxiety!
Sandy was, by far, one of the most enthusiastic people I’d ever met. What popped into her head came right out of her mouth! I learned that as she and her husband sat down with the group to share a little bit about themselves. Her husband stayed pretty quiet while Sandy talked up a storm. Her heart was always brimming over with excitement and love but also with anxiety, and I realized that one of the reasons she talked as much as she did was that that was her way of managing her innate sensitivities—it was her work-around.
On our first trip as a group out on the boat to find and then hopefully swim with the wild dolphins, everyone had different emotions. The closer we got to the area where we could possibly see the dolphins, the more talkative (and I realized the more worried) Sandy became. As it turned out, she really wasn’t familiar with snorkeling in open water, which was one of the reasons she’d brought her husband along; he turned out to be an expert.
Suddenly the captain slowed the boat and gave us the sign to start donning our gear. As I watched, some people were completely calm and basically jockeying to get in the best position to ascend into that clear turquoise water as soon as possible. Others were slower to get ready, adjusting this, fixing that, forgetting this. Sandy’s husband was one of the first into the water with Sandy close behind. I was one of the last.
As I slid into the water, I was surprised that it was so warm. My snorkel, tight on my head, allowed me to take my first look under to ensure that no sharks were coming to get me (yes, that was my main fear), but all I could see were human legs, clear blue water and then, about thirty feet below, gorgeous white sand. As I paddled around, my fins giving me a feeling of superhuman power, the waves around me were pretty choppy. If I stuck my head and snorkel up out of the water, it became a lot of work to find everyone, see the dolphins, and stay up with the boat. I slowly realized that if I stayed in snorkel mode it was easier to be a part of the group.
Sandy, however, hadn’t realized this. Within a few minutes of being in the water, she indicated to the captain that she was in trouble. She felt like she was drowning. I could see her panicking in the water, and her husband was swimming in closer to help her. Her little head kept popping up—I could see it in between the choppy waves—and her snorkel and mask were no longer on her face but resting on top of her head. As she and her husband made their way back to the boat (which was twenty or so feet away), I could practically feel Sandy’s panic in my own body. She glanced over at me as she was hoisting herself onto the boat and I saw the whites of her eyes—she looked petrified.
The dolphins finished their play with the rest of the group a few minutes later and we all pushed through the rough waters to the back of the boat. In all, we’d had about fifteen minutes to play during that session with the dolphins, but when dolphins are done, they’re done. That group had moved on. Most of our group de-finned and made their way precariously to the front of the boat to start the search for another group of dolphins while Sandy went below deck with her husband who had his hand gently on her knee as she sobbed and hiccupped for air.
“It wasn’t working! I felt like I was dying! I couldn’t breathe!” cried Sandy. Her terror and disappointment were apparent in her watery eyes, “I was going to drown! I thought I was going to drown, Danielle!”
I thought for a moment about how to handle this situation. Having already spent a day and a half with Sandy, I knew how emotional and truly sensitive she was. It wasn’t just that everything in Sandy’s life tended to be dramatic; it was that she felt so deeply everything that she experienced. What someone else might call a slight she would experience as an outright jab. The hardest part about this is that Sandy was not a weak person—it was only that Sandy, being a very sensitive person, had not yet learned how to turn her incredible sensitivity into her power. At this point, her sensitivity was taking her down and making it hard for her to experience life!
I knew what I had to do.
I told Sandy’s husband that it was wonderful that he wanted to comfort Sandy, but in order to get herself together so she could go back out in that water, Sandy was going to have to comfort herself. After a moment, he looked at me like I was crazy, gave Sandy a parting hug, and left for the party at the front of the boat.
At first, Sandy wanted to keep talking about how she had almost died in the water. (She hadn’t, but I totally understood the feelings she was having.) She kept rehashing her experience with the waves, the snorkel not fitting properly, and not knowing what do to. Finally, I stopped her from talking and calmly explained my thoughts about what was really going on with her, as she sat quietly and dried her tears. I wanted her to understand how sensitive she really was and how, through that sensitivity, she was being overwhelmed by the energy of the waves, the dolphins, the swimming, the people, the snorkel, the fear and more—but she didn’t have to be overwhelmed by it. I quickly taught her a breathing technique that she could use right then and there.
As Sandy emerged from the boat’s cabin having just completed a few rounds of her new breathing technique, I noticed that her eyes appeared calmer, more relaxed. Instead of darting around, they held my gaze easily, and she smiled.
From that moment on, all I had to do was remind Sandy to do her energy management, and she would find the power within to calm herself, organize her thoughts, ease up on taking things so personally—and connect with the dolphins. We had six more days of that trip together, and not once did Sandy fear she was going to drown again. It was an amazing transformation to watch someone go from feeling and experiencing their world as out of their control to realizing that they had total and complete control, all through energy management.
Sandy has taken several of my classes since this trip, and she is a delight to work with and to be around. Yes, sometimes her energy management flies out the window (oh, you should see her get excited in one of my live webinar classes), but she’s since developed the tools and the confidence to bring herself back to center (on her own!), back to that place within her that feels good, positive, and peaceful. Sandy could have chosen to learn the techniques I was teaching her and not incorporate them into her everyday life. Had she done that, she would not be where she is today (and I wouldn’t be so excited about having her in my classes). Recently, Sandy was participating in one of my live-stream webinars, and I called on her so she could ask a question. She wanted to give another person in the webinar advice about their own energy management. She said, “I’ve really got this down now! You might not believe it, but there was a time when Danielle practically ran away from me at the airport!”
Now, I don’t remember running away from her at the airport, but I will say that is entirely possible. I can now confidently say that I would not consider running away from Sandy if I met her at the airport today.