Stop, Feel, and Be Still

I find it interesting that throughout my life, I learn about different skills, tools, mindsets, etc. that I find really inspiring and I know that they would be helpful for me in my life, but I just don’t quite get the hang of actually implementing them in my life on a consistent basis.

And then, over time, the puzzle pieces start to come together and it make sense.  I can see more of the picture and how the pieces fit together.

Let me first start with the problem that I have super consistently, and then I’ll talk about the pieces that I’ve gathered over several years but that are finally fitting together in my mind and practical application.


The problem

Here’s the reoccurring scenario…I’m stuck in the middle of a messy moment in my everyday, mothering life (sibling rivalry, whining, complaining, everyone needing something from me all at the same time, the list goes on.)  I have to deal with whatever is going on, right then and there. 

I usually can’t just go up to my room and lock myself in so I can be alone to sort out my thoughts and feelings and gain clarity and peace.  I mean, I guess I could, but I would probably spend a large chunk of my day locked in my room.  haha.  

So what happens? I experience negative emotions.  I get frustrated with my kids.  I react instantly instead of responding thoughtfully. 

Roxanne with her baby that is about to “be borned”… but this is probably about how I look when I’m frustrated with the kids. haha!


I know these are normal human tendencies, but I don’t like this about myself and I want to change.

Now, let me share a story that I read several months ago but that was brought to my remembrance by the Holy Ghost when I was praying one day a few weeks ago about this human tendency of mine… 


The Magic Mask

(taken from Ethics for Children by Ella Lyman Cabot, found in Stories that Teach Values (Story Hour Series compiled by Marlene Peterson), pg. 319)

There was once a great and powerful prince. He had hundreds of soldiers in his army, and with their help he had conquered vast strips of country, over which he ruled. He was wise as well as brave, but though all men feared his iron will and respected his strong purpose, no one loved him.

As he grew older, he became lonely and unhappy, and this made him sterner and colder, and more severe than ever. The lines about his mouth were hard and grim, there was a deep frown on his forehead, and his lips rarely smiled.

Now it happened that in one of the cities over which he had come to rule was a beautiful princess whom he wished to have for his wife. He had watched her for months as she went about among the people, and he knew that she was as good and kind as she was beautiful. But, because he always wore his armor and his heavy helmet when he rode through his dominions, she had never seen his face.

The day came when he made up his mind that he would ask the lovely princess to come and live in his palace. He put on his royal robes and his golden coronet; but, when he looked at his reflection in the glass, he could see nothing but what would cause fear and dislike. His face looked hard and cruel and stern.

He tried to smile, but it seemed an unnatural effort and he quickly gave it up. Then a happy notion came to him. Sending for the court magician, he said to him: “Make for me a mask of the thinnest wax so that it will follow every line of my features, but paint it with your magic paints so that it will look kind and pleasant instead of fierce and stern. Fasten it upon my face so that I shall never have to take it off. Make it as handsome and attractive as your skill can suggest, and I will pay for it at any price you choose to ask.”

“This I can do,” said the court magician, “on one condition only. You must keep your own face in the same lines that I shall paint, or the mask will be ruined. One angry frown, one cruel smile will crack the mask and ruin it forever; nor can I replace it. Will you agree to this?”

The prince had a strong will, and never in his life had he wanted anything so much as he now wanted the princess for his wife. “Yes,” he said, “I agree. Tell me how I may keep the mask from cracking.”

“You must train yourself to think kindly thoughts,” said the magician, “and, to do this, you must do kindly deeds. You must try to make your kingdom happy rather than great. Whenever you are angry, keep absolutely still until the feeling has gone away. Try to think of ways to make your subjects happier and better. Build schools instead of forts, and hospitals instead of battleships. Be gracious and courteous to all men.”

So the wonderful mask was made, and when the prince put it on, no none would have guessed that it was not his true face. The lovely princess, indeed, could find no fault with it, and she came willingly to be his bride in his splendid palace. The months went on, and, though at first the magic mask was often in danger of being destroyed, the prince had been as good as his word, and no one had ever discovered that it was false. His subjects, it is true, wondered at his new gentleness and thoughtfulness, but they said: “It is the princess who has made him like herself.”

The prince, however, was not quite happy. When the princess smiled her approval of his forbearance and goodness, he used to wish that he had never deceived her with the magic mask. At last he could bear it no longer, and summoning the magician, he bade him remove the false face.

“If I do, your Royal Highness,” protested the magician, “I can never make another. You must wear your own face as long as you live.”

“Better so,” cried the prince, “than to deceive one whose love and trust I value so greatly. Better even that she should always despise me than that I should go on doing what is unworthy for her sake.”

Then the magician took off the mask, and the prince in fear and anguish of heart sought his reflection in the glass. As he looked, his eyes brightened and his lips curved into a radiant smile, for the ugly line were gone, the frown had disappeared, and his face was molded in the exact likeness of the mask he had worn so long. And, when he came into the presence of his wife, she saw only the familiar features of the prince she loved.


Here are some thoughts that I recorded in my journal after I read this story…

I was just thinking about this quote from The Magic Mask. I love that Heavenly Father answered my prayer with this story.

“You must train yourself to think kindly thoughts,” said the magician, “and, to do this, you must do kindly deeds. You must try to make your kingdom happy rather than great. Whenever you are angry, keep absolutely still until the feeling has gone away. Try to think of ways to make your subjects happier and better. Build schools instead of forts, and hospitals instead of battleships. Be gracious and courteous to all men.”

I love that in this quote, it doesn’t only talk about what to do when I am feeling positive, or at least neutral… think kindly thoughts, do kindly deeds, make my people happy rather than great.

It also instructs what to do when I am feeling angry… keep absolutely still until the feeling has gone away.

I needed that other piece of instruction.

It doesn’t say “when you’re feeling angry, just be nice anyway…fake it until you make it.”

While that is sometimes effective and helps to turn my mood around, other times it just builds resentment or it just isn’t sustainable.

I like the instruction to keep absolutely still until the feeling has gone away. It makes me think of the scripture, “Be still and know that I am God” (Doctrine & Covenants 101:16).  When I am still, it gives the spirit the opportunity to elevate my thoughts and feelings so that I can then act from a place of integrity rather than just faking it.

When I am still, it allows God to “hold space” for me so that my feelings and thoughts can rise to His and I am able to see things and people clearly.

What I probably look like when I’m trying to force myself to hold it together. haha!


Ok, so here is where the other puzzle pieces fit in (and sorry, but all of this may make more sense to me than to you but reading my past posts and listening to podcast episodes that I link will help to paint a clearer picture for you if you’re interested in that)…



In Summer 2013, I first learned about meditation and mindfulness.  Over the years, I’ve learned a little here, a little there, and I’ve had times when I’ve consistently practiced meditation/mindfulness and other times when I’ve fallen out of the habit.  Meditation has been useful for me in my life and I’ve had positive experiences with it, but I struggled with how to practically apply it in my everyday, middle of the messy moment, situations.


Feeling and Processing Negative Emotions

In 2018, the word that I felt prompted to focus on was feel.  In this post, I wrote about the importance of feeling and processing negative emotions.  Again, these are some tools that I learned about, but often forgot or struggled with how to practically apply them in my everyday, middle of the messy moment, situations. 


Be Still and Know That I am God

Towards the beginning of 2019, I was introduced to Brooke Snow (not in real life… although I would love to meet her someday and tell her how much of an impact her work has had on me.)  One particular podcast episode that really stood out to me was called Holding Space.  What I learned from this episode, along with Brooke’s Christian Mediation course have improved my prayers and my relationship with Heavenly Father so much. 

I have used this tool to allow Heavenly Father to elevate my thoughts.  I turn off all distractions. Go to a quiet place (my absolute favorite is the Celestial Room in the temple, but often this place is just my closet). Pour out my heart to God… But don’t get up and leave. Just sit there. Be still. Listen. Allow God to hold the space for me. Allow myself to rise to the level of God’s emotions (peace, love, joy).

But again, I struggled to practically apply this in the middle of the messy mothering moments.


But then, a few days ago, after watching this video from Jody Moore (which I had actually already seen a long time ago), it clicked.  I could see how the pieces all fit together and how I could practically apply them in the middle of the messy. 

Stop. Keep absolutely still (The Magic Mask), focus your mind (meditation/mindfulness) on what is going on in your body (feel and process negative emotions), until the feeling has gone away (The Magic Mask), allow God to elevate your thoughts and feelings (holding space) and allow Him to inspire you and help you to think of ways to make your [family] happier and better. And how to build schools instead of forts, hospitals instead of battleships, and be gracious and courteous to all men (The Magic Mask).     

Let me say that again…

Stop. Keep absolutely still, focus your mind on what is going on in your body, until the feeling has gone away, allow God to elevate your thoughts and feelings and allow Him to inspire you and help you to think of ways to make your [family] happier and better. And how to build schools instead of forts, hospitals instead of battleships, and be gracious and courteous to all men.

Then, you can act from a place of integrity, strengthened by grace, instead of just through sheer grit and personal willpower (which isn’t sustainable or truly transformative). 


And because I like to throughly explain things (just ask Jershon. haha), Here it is even more clearly spelled out…

When I am experiencing a negative emotion, I need to stop, get out of my head and into my body.  Just feel the physical response that is happening in my body right then.  Just observe.  Hmm… my heart is beating faster… my facial muscles are tight… my shoulders are tense…

Sometimes just being still doesn’t work.  My mind needs something to focus on so it doesn’t just continue to ruminate.  This is where mindfulness/meditation comes in.  My mind has something to focus on (the physical response that the emotions are causing in my body at that very moment) and the emotion is able to just process through my body like it’s designed to do.  Emotions actually pass through us fairly quickly (less than a minute) if we allow them to instead of trying to control them or push them away.

When I am still, I am giving God the time in order to “hold space” for me.  I am able to “Be still and know that [He is] God.”

After the feeling has passed, then I am able to see things more clearly and I can more easily and authentically (rather than forced and my brain not really believing all the way) change my thoughts to something that is more productive and more positive.

I can intentionally pray each day and ask Heavenly Father to help me:  “When I am experiencing a negative emotion because of negative thoughts, please send the Holy Ghost to remind me to be mindful and be still, and allow the emotion to run it’s natural course.  And then elevate my thoughts to higher thoughts.”


“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” (Victor Frankl) 


Being able to cultivate and utilize that space so that we are able to intentionally choose our response is powerful and life changing.  


I’ve been able to practice process a handful of times over the past few days and it really has made a big difference in those messy mothering moments.  Opportunities to practice will be endless so I trust that the practice will lead to progress.


After writing most of this post already, I happened to listen to a podcast episode that Brooke was a guest on and it goes along really well with this post.


Of course these puzzle pieces fit into many other situations in my life as well, not just for when I’m feeling frustrated or angry. Meditation/mindfulness, feeling and processing negative emotions, holding space, and being still have many, many other benefits.

1 Response
  1. Estelle

    I love how the various concepts and strategies that you’ve heard about over the past few years have now come together in such a harmonic way. We’ve had a few challenging days so I’m going to try out stop, feel and be still for sure!

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