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Ring the Bell: Three Steps to Accessing Supportive Resources in Times of Distress

What are your "shoulds" when it comes to healing and wellbeing?

Often enough, clients speak to me about their expectations of how they "should" heal. Especially when it comes to the behavioral aspects of our healing; the things we hope to consciously change.

Once they've identified things that are resourcing, they suddenly expect themselves to be above the difficulty. To have been changed simply because the resource was made clear.

But that's not how resourcing works. Resourcing is a practice, and it's not a cognitive one. Somatically, our bodies need time to trust the availability and reliability of new resources.

Ok, real quick I just want to define what resourcing is. Resourcing is the process of consciously utilizing the practices, mindsets, tools, people, and more that support your capacity to cope, function, be your best you, and hopefully thrive!

Ok, let's work with an example here:

When I first adopted my dog, Willa, two and a half years ago, we had quite a time learning to communicate. Long story short, I had to buy a carpet cleaner (a resource!) to cope with the many accidents she had in our carpeted apartment.

When I noticed that she wasn't giving me clear 'I need to go' signals, I embarked on the process of training her to ring a bell to let me know she needs to go out (a different kind of resource!). Friends who'd successfully trained their pups to do so told me that once she successfully learned this new skill she'd likely exploit the privilege for a while, ringing the bell to go out just for the heck of it! But, eventually, she'd settle into only using the bell when she truly needs to go potty.

I think the same is true for us. We need to and deserve to practice, in repetition, and even when we don't need them, the resources that are truly helpful in times of need.

Here's what I tell my clients:

1) Practice using the resource when you're not stressed. Whether it's a somatic practice, a mindfulness exercise, going for a walk, journaling, or whatever - let yourself experience it as something you can access whenever you want to. Make time for it. Don't worry too much about how much time you spend with this new resource at first. I know a lot of people struggle to make time to exercise, for instance, because we feel we need a certain amount of time to make it count. I don't care if it's 60 minutes or 60 seconds. Just make it a habit of reaching for it.

2) Return to the resource each time you're stressed. Go for it as soon as you notice the stress, or just as soon as you're able to. If there are other things you'd rather do, out of habit or strong desire to escape the stress, see if you can practice your new resource first and then trust you can go back to those OG resources you're trying to reduce as soon as you're done if you need to. And, don't beat yourself up if you do reach for that old resource. Just use it as an opportunity to get curious and creative in the future.

3) Notice what changes as your body learns to trust your proximity to the resource. Notice if the stressors feel less threatening. Notice if reaching for the resource feels easier, even more attractive.

As always, remember that wellbeing is a practice, not a destination. Resources and needs can shift and change as often as you need or like. Challenges aren't failures, only opportunities to figure out what a better resource or system is for you.

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