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Presence - Learned or Found?

Updated: May 8, 2023

Much is said of presence and the ability to maintain composure during stressful situations. We have an internal trigger that kicks in when we perceive a threat, the fight or flight response. It doesn’t matter if that threat be real or not, physical or not, just a perceived threat to our determined well-being. Its something that we fear will harm us either physically or emotionally, so we take steps to protect ourselves. If we fear a physical attack, we may steady ourselves or run like the wind. If we fear an emotional attack, we may become aggressive or shrink from engagement. Each of us in our own way deal with the tension created by the perceived attack.

But what of those whose response is neither fight nor flight? Do they not perceive threat? Do they not have the same physiological response of amygdala hijacking? Or are they simply more masterful at managing the response, enabling themselves to navigate the threat more effectively?

Those whose response is more measured during periods of stress have not simply mastered a series of steps that allow them to better regulate their behavior in the face of a threat – they don’t perceive the threat with the same degree of intensity or consequence, perhaps its not a threat at all. There are those who can “self-regulate” in the moment and manage themselves, but then there are those who simply remain composed and engaged without devoting resources to managing themselves. These individuals possess presence.

To these individuals, presence is an internal knowledge and belief that one is ok. They accept themselves as they are and hold the belief that in spite of circumstances, they will be ok. They can learn through situations they don’t currently understand, if something doesn’t “go their way” they accept that perhaps it wasn’t meant to, they don’t give others the authority to define who they are, they draw their sense of ok-ness from an inner assurance of worthiness and belonging.

The difference between the haves and have nots in this instance is the willingness to be intentional about its pursuit. Those who desire this level of presence must journey through a discovery and development process that will challenge them with difficult realities and sobering truths about who they are, yet reveal to them insights related to their purpose and the security of the self. With the paradox of control and submission fully at play, the person who comes out the other side accepts that they can only control themselves and it is submission to, and acceptance of, a greater story that delivers them from the negative behaviors associated with worry and anxiety due to circumstantial stress.

It’s a worthy pursuit with great reward for those who invest in it. For those interested in beginning the journey, begin with an exploration of mindfulness. I encourage you to visit for insights on what mindfulness is and how it can improve your presence. Contact us and/or visit often for additional information and resources.

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