How to Expand Your Window of Tolerance

The holiday season is in full swing and while there might be holiday happiness and cheer… we also know that it comes with overwhelm and stress. So, how do you usually cope with this? I’m certain that many of us got so out of our minds and bodies that the only way to survive this is by using food. However, today I want to share with you a different way to deal with this.

In this episode, I dive into:

  • How to know when your nervous system’s been hijacked and how to get it back so you don’t eat or drink to cope!
  • The 1st most important step to take once you realize you’re on the “struggle bus”
  • The concept of resourcing and identifying external resources that can help soothe and settle your nervous system.
  • A follow-along experiential + powerful meditation practice called pendulation to help you navigate intense emotions and sensations.
  • Why it is important to expand your capacity to feel and tolerate intense emotions, both negative and positive.

Literally, learn how to expand your window of tolerance RIGHT NOW during this healing episode! The invitation today is to practice with me right now and then come back to this episode the next time you’re feeling all the feels!

And…if you’re sick of waking up on New Years Day Tired, Heavy, and Frustrated….Then register for my FREE Holiday Survival Workshop where I’ll show you exactly how to enjoy the holiday season without worrying about eating so much you can’t fit into your pants come January. REGISTER HERE:


[00:00:42] Expanding your window of tolerance.

[00:04:38] Tolerating Intensity in the Body.

[00:07:18] Resources for relaxation and grounding.

[00:11:10] Intensity in the body.

[00:15:29] Observing intense experiences.

[00:19:59] Bringing high vibe emotions.

Full Episode Transcript:

Hello. Hello. Welcome everybody. I am so excited to be sharing this special practice with you today. It is the holiday season as we are moving into here. By the time this episode goes live, we are in November and already with so many of my clients, the level of just in general, stress and overwhelm and all the things that keep coming up, which is why we keep having all of these amazing podcast episodes on it.

So if you go back last week, we went very deep into all of these pieces and how we can actually start to untangle that overwhelm and that stress response that we have in the body. And the only thing though, last week, we did not get a chance to really go into expanding your window of tolerance.

So what we did talk about last week when it talked about whenever you’re feeling so overwhelmed, so stressed, so much on your plate where your nervous system is going into like stress response, like fight-flight, like I got to deal with this. I got to handle this, like lots of fight, flight energy or freeze response, which is your nervous system Maybe not literally, but you can imagine your nervous system saying, I can’t deal with anything.

So fight, flight, freeze. And when we stay there chronically, it can create all sorts of problems in the body with our emotions, with our psyche, all the stuff. So last week we really went into understanding the very first step, which we’re not going to get into so much today, but I’m just going to lay it out so we can make sure that we can have an epic practice here is one

just being able to gauge when your nervous system is hijacked when it is in that overwhelmed mode and maybe a number one through four on a scale of one to ten. That’ll feel man, I can feel the stresses going up. But when you start getting into like sevens and eights and nines and tens, you’re going into like high level, like intensity in the body fight, flight, freeze energy.

And so we talked about one, we want to know, and we want to be able to gauge what that is for us. We want to have enough self-awareness to recognize. Oh my gosh, I’m getting hijacked. My nervous system, my stress response is so high. I’m at an eight. I’m at a four. I’m at a six. So that level of self-awareness is very important.

And we get better and better at it. The more that we become more self-aware of what’s going on in our system as we feel sensations and emotions for sure. And then we want to be able to Mitigate it and we want to be able to move through it. So we talked about two different things. Number one, we talked about what it takes to really live in a state of regulating the nervous system.

What can I do habit-wise of feeling better in my body regularly? And we talked about some basics like getting more sleep, moving your body, getting some sunshine, right? These are very important, stabilizing things. And then we went into other exercises like breath work and meditation and working with a therapist or a coach and really body-based exercises we talked about as well.

So all of these wonderful ways in which we want to be practicing. So that way, when we’re living our life, we’re generally not in a stressed-out state. We are giving ourselves what we need in order to keep that stress level down. And that’s ideal. But the other part that we didn’t really get a chance to talk about too much, or maybe even really at all, is what to do when you are in that state, which is so intense in the body in that moment.

And it’s just What do we do? So you can do all of these other things that we talked about in the last podcast episode where you can practice these exercises to get it down. But the other thing we want to remember, it’s not just about always getting that nervous system down. We also recognize that we live on planet earth and that life hands us shit sandwiches.

We don’t even ask for them quite frankly. I never ask for a shit sandwich, but sometimes life hands us situations that hijack our nervous system. And so the other thing we want to be able to do is learn how to tolerate when things just don’t feel good in our body, when things just don’t feel good.

When we just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, we want to be able to expand our capacity for that. So what I have for you today, I’m very excited is a little practice that I thought might help you. So if you are here and you’re noticing that you’re feeling all the feels, the intensity of your nervous system feels like a lot, maybe you can connect to the words like stressed or overwhelmed in any meaningful way, then this is going to be a beautiful practice for you. What we’re going to do is practice. It’s called pendulation. We’re going to go into it and then out of it, we’re going to practice it over and over again.

And we’re going to see if we can work with that. And I wanna be really clear that intensity in the nervous system isn’t just negative. Sometimes the goodness, the joy, the bliss. If your nervous system is only programmed to only feel so much of anything, that’s generally how a nervous system works before it gets hijacked by intensity in the stress response.

So even like really good news or something really happy, that can also hijack a nervous system, and this is so important, is because for at least the women that I work with, we start to get into this intensity in the body, whether it’s negative or positive. And then the answer to fix all of it is to just go eat food, right?

I stress eating, comfort eating mindless eating all of these ways in which we use food that are very connected. To trying to soothe some intensity in the body. So the way that we get to the other side of that really, truly get to the other side of that is to be able to experience the intensity in the body and then learn how to tolerate it.

So remember there’s two different pieces. Last episode, how do we do the things to get our nervous system to stay regulated to be in a more regulated state most of the time. But right now working with this pendulation, what we’re going to do is play specifically with how do we just sit with it?

How do we learn how to pause and be with it? So there’s a lot of different exercises, but I love this one. And so the first thing is to notice on a scale of one to 10, where are you in terms of intensity of stress response in the body? This is overwhelm, stress, frustration, whatever that intensity might be.

Too much of anything that just feels like it’s, ah, I just can’t even take it. Sometimes it’s, if the music’s been too loud oh, I can’t even take it. But just tune into yourself and see if you can gauge. On a scale of one to 10, where that intensity level is an eight, nine or 10 would be really high.

Just like shit is hitting the fan in your world right now, emotionally, psychologically, physically, whatever it might be, that’s going to be really high numbers. Okay. And that’s, and again, it could be, as low as a one this won’t be. All that helpful if you’re at like a zero or a one, but if you’re anything above that, this can be really helpful.

So first just notice what that number is. And now go ahead and think about something that is a resource for you. And here’s what I mean by resource. I want you to think about anything that helps soothe and settle you. Anything that provides like a sense of goodness for your body, for your nervous system, for your body, mind, heart, soul.

Just sense into that. And these are, this can be just about anything. This is called resourcing. These are external resources. So you can imagine like a cup of hot tea or a teddy bear or a cozy chair or a soft, fuzzy blanket prayer beads. It might be, a bubble bath. I know that when I was in therapy, my therapist

we created a whole scene cause it always soothed me into this day. It still does, which is on the beach, like beachfront in the sand, like between two palm trees, a hammock and like the gen, the waves are gentle, so it’s like a soft breeze. It’s warm. It’s not like over windy. It’s not too hot. It’s not too cold.

It’s this absolute perfect relaxation response in my body. And so I will envision that as a resource. There’s so many other resources like like a pet is a great resource walking in nature, just anything that you can really anchor to as a resource. So what we’re going to do is feel what we’re feeling.

We’re going to practice feeling it. And this is why we want to make sure number one, that we have some level of resource and another resource that we could that’s even more embodied, which is like to hold yourself. Like you could put your hands on your arms or you could put your, I like to put my arms around my lower belly and kind of rock myself.

This is a resource for me for sure. Putting my hands on the tops of my thighs to my knees and just feel like I can feel my body. The weight of my body in this chair, my feet on the floor, like these are actual feelings that I can feel that I can always come back to. So I want you to anchor in to something that you can feel and go ahead and open your eyes really big and look around the room and just recognize where you are right now.

Recognize that you’re in a place. It is 2023. You are safe enough in this exact moment to even be listening to this. So even if your nervous system is really screaming, you’re not safe, really look to make sure like doors locked, nobody’s going to bug you. Like I actually am safe in this exact moment.

Even though my nervous system might be telling me something. Now, if you aren’t safe, that’s different. Get to safety, obviously. But we want to, when we do this exercise, we want a resource. We want to know that we can hold ourselves, that we can feel what we need to feel. We also want to remember that it’s present day.

Okay. It’s not 1986 anymore. Okay. So that’s the first piece. And once we really understand where we are on that level of one to 10 and where you can really anchor in, if you need to, the next step is if you want to join me. You can either close your eyes or softly gaze down and just take a nice deep breath.

If that feels good for you and just start to notice what it feels like in the body, start to notice what that tension feels like, that intensity in the body. Maybe you have a name for it, maybe you call it overwhelm or stress or frustration or anger. It could be anything really, but just notice that whatever you’re calling it actually feels a certain way in the body.

And so I want to encourage you to take another deep breath in and exhale and just go into the body and just see if you can sense where you can feel that intensity in the body. And truth be told, if it’s an eight, nine or 10, you might be like, I feel it everywhere. And that’s okay. Just notice all the places where you feel it and see if you can tune in.

Notice if there’s any particular part of the body that feels heavy versus light and just see if that’s there. Or notice if this intensity feels contracted or if there’s any tension anywhere in the body and notice how contraction and tension will feel a lot different than let’s say expansion or ease. And just notice if there’s a lot of intensity in the body. It probably doesn’t feel like ease and relaxation. So just feel into where you might be feeling, maybe constriction. It might feel like vibration, waves, jitters, butterflies.

There’s so many ways we can describe what we’re feeling and just start to tune in and see if you can actually feel and experience that. Take a breath and just be with this intensity. I know this is not easy. And then notice if there’s any thoughts looping in your head, whatever those thoughts are.

And all we’re doing right now is we’re just allowing ourselves to experience it, experience the intensity in the body, wherever it lives in the body. If you can feel a very particular place, maybe you can put your hand on that place and just really notice it and feel it really notice the thoughts. We are attempting as safe.

As absolutely safely as possible to simply experience the full spectrum of this intensity in the body, emotions, sensations, even the thoughts that arise all of the things, bring all of your consciousness, all of your presence so that you can fully embody. And just be in it. And I know this doesn’t feel good.

I totally get it, but we’re just going to be here for just a second more. Take one more big inhale. And remember you can leave the space anytime you want, but if you want to just be in here for just a second more, I’ll encourage you to see if you can try to take the posture of how this intensity really shows up in the body.

Maybe your shoulders roll over, maybe you hunched down a little bit. And just fully in the experience for another breath, just be fully here, be fully present into this intensity. And right now, say to yourself, you can say it is safe for me to feel this. I have capacity to feel this all the way through, even though this is

tough. And this is really intense. This overwhelm is my opportunity to expand my capacity, to expand my tolerance. And I’m literally doing that right now. I have infinite amounts of capacity to feel this. I know that I can feel these feelings and sensations in my body and I know they don’t feel good, but I also know that they are going to come and go and that they rise and fall.

And I know that I know this intensity will not be here forever. This too shall pass. And in this moment, I know I’ve got me, I’ve got this. It’s not going to kill me to feel this. I know I’ve got this. I’m literally learning how to expand my tolerance. Even as I’m sitting here talking to myself, I can feel my capacity to hold this intensity to even expand my capacity, which makes this intensity smaller and smaller.

And I can even take a big inhale and a double inhale, take an extra step at the top, and an exhale. And I can even relax into this intensity because I know it ebbs and flows. I’ve got this, I’ve got me, and take one more inhale and exhale. If this feels good for you. And now feel what it’s like to pendulum

out of the experience. So the intensity is still there. Whatever you’re feeling in the body, in the mind, in the emotions, it’s still there, but notice if you can now observe what you are experiencing, just be the observer. So the experience is still there. You can sense that there’s still something there, but as the observer, you can back away from it, you can bring kindness and curiosity.

And attention and love and all these gentle things you as a, like a loving, benevolent observer, and just notice the experience, notice that it’s happening. So instead of being in the experience, you are now observing

and now notice what it feels like to observe a little further away. You can still see it. It’s there. We’re not going to pretend that the intensity is not there because it is, but just notice that as you. Observe from a little further away. Notice if the sensations itself start to decrease inside of you.

And so this is how we can start to pendulum out of the intensity and then we can go right back into the intensity. So let’s take an inhale. You’re like, no, I always have that part in me that does not want to go back into it. But you know what? We know that we can do this. We can just touch. So when you’re ready, close your eyes again, take a big inhale and a big exhale and see if you can feel into the intensity.

Again, go all the way into it, how it feels in the body, the sensations, maybe slump your body again and notice if it’s the same note. If it’s a little lower. Maybe it’s a little higher than when you were observing it, but maybe it’s a little lower when you were in it earlier. Just notice. Maybe none of that is true.

Just be present with what is. And take an inhale and an exhale and feel just a little bit more. Notice your capacity to feel notice that it’s just not the end of the world to feel whatever the icky is that you’re feeling. Just allow it to flow. We’re going to allow it to be here and fully experience it.

And if that means it’s tears. If that means it’s screaming, if that means it’s rocking yourself and holding yourself, if it just means being present to whatever pain is there, take a big inhale, fully experiencing it. And as you exhale, pull yourself out and start to observe. So sit up nice and tall as the loving, benevolent observer, and just notice that you can observe the intensity and pull yourself away from it even further.

Yeah. Take a big inhale and an exhale if that feels good for you and open your eyes if that feels good for you. And let’s start to move a little bit. I want you to imagine if you were having the best day ever, how would you sit? How would you stand? Would you move a little bit? Would you stretch a little bit?

Would you smile? Maybe bring a smile to your face. And just notice. Even in just a short period of time, we’ve been doing this, your capacity to feel intensity and let it come down and you’re feeling intensity and even expand your tolerance for feeling it. Y’all, this is huge. This is it. So anytime you need this, it is here for you.

I hope you come back over and over again and use this as a tool for whenever you just are feeling like, ah, it’s too much. You can always use this to practice expanding your capacity to feel what you’re feeling. And I promise you that the more that we learn how to do this is the hard work. My friends, the more we learn how to do this the less and less we will be using food as the answer as the coping mechanism. Okay. Have a beautiful rest of your day or night or wherever you are. Take such good care of yourself and do yourself a favor and create some high-vibe feelings and emotions right now. Dance it out, shake it out, bring some pleasure into this, and feel good.

And I cannot wait to see you in the next episode. Bye everybody