Navigating Transitions + Tough Times

How to “be” in the world when it’s hurting.

February 1, 2020

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We’re living in urgent times…


From the protests here in Hong Kong to the bushfires in Australia to Brexit in the UK to the politics of the U.S (plus a whole list of other countries I haven’t mentioned but are equally as important).


When the world is full of so much strife, unrest and destruction, we can naturally find ourselves feeling helpless, and unsure of how to actually make a difference.


As someone born and raised in Hong Kong, I find myself on a roller coaster of emotions with what’s unfolding in my hometown. For anyone who lives or has lived in Hong Kong, you may relate.


In one moment I’ll be laughing with my kids and so present with them and in the next moment I’m spontaneously in tears feeling despair about the pain in our society.


I don’t have the answers for how to repair Hong Kong let alone the other problems we have in our world. 


But what I DO know, is that the best chance for us to collectively find the answers and begin the path to healing is to start with bringing back the “human” in humanity – and to relate to each other as human beings.


Being human we have emotions. And not all of them are pretty.


It’s a tall order to be humane and compassionate when we’re feeling unexpressed anger, rage, grief, sadness and despair.


These past few months, I’ve been asking myself the question:


“What can I do?”


The best answer that I’ve come up with is to share and use the embodiment tools I’ve learned, to support people in processing their experience of what’s happening and unravelling in their respective societies and different corners of the world….




So that together we can liberate those pockets of frozen tension and find personal peace. 


It’s from THIS space we have the capacity to choose how to be in this current environment and offer our humanity to a hurting society.

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Integrative Life Coach Career Coach - Flat Lay Image19

If you’re feeling anxiety, despair, anger or helplessness about the world, you’re in the right place. 


In this week’s blog where I share a simple process that will help you unravel what you’re experiencing in your body, find personal peace and from this space make choices on how to show up in the world. 


What’s happening in our world has an impact on us in our nervous systems.


We feel all of this deeply. 


If you’re anything like the people that I tend to attract, my guess is that you’re more sensitive than the norm, you feel more deeply, you’re empathetic. 


In a world where there is so much pain and hurt, it can feel like it’s all too much. 


What can happen as a result is that we can:


Armour up to the world: shutting down, not reading the news, not wanting to partake in the world. 


Numb out: this looks like us reading about what’s happening but then letting it wash over us without emotion because if we dare stop to feel, it may just wipe us out. 


Today what I want to talk about is a healthier way of being in the world but not of the world. 


What do I mean by that?


Well using my example…


I mean to be able to read the news and not collapse and to still be able to function and live your life and make the contributions that you can (voting, donating money to causes believe in) and also to enjoy life as well. 


Personally I’ve been grappling with this, how can I be enjoying and living my life, when there are protestors on the streets and there is so much pain happening? It feels selfish and insensitive. 


I’m not going to debate what’s right and wrong here in this blog post.  There are spaces and places to debate politics…what I am doing in this post is talking about the processing of the feelings and emotions we feel in response to what’s going on in society and politics.


My guess is that you’ve got those in whatsapp groups, facebook groups and communities you’re a part of. 


You might find that in these groups…people start to attack each other personally rather than debate. 


The truth is, when we’re looking at politics and society, what’s subconsciously is happening, we are assessing each other on their values. 


For example…


If person A supports this camp, they value X. And you support another camp and value Y. 


Because you’re different, are are both on opposing sides – and in some cases the enemy. Which is where we can sometimes see this anger, violence and dehumanising going on. 


I don’t think that this is serving anyone.


I believe that we need to feel what we’re feeling so that we’re not unloading our emotions onto others and we can process our emotions in our body so that we can come to a clear space to then have a constructive dialogue or come up with some solutions for what’s within your power to make a difference. 


Big or small. 

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Beach Image5

Sometimes we can berate ourselves for not making a bigger contribution. 


Today my small contribution is to share what I can with you…


My hope is that it serves you.



What I want to do is guide you through a bit of a process to feel what you’re experiencing in your body, find personal peace and from this space make choices on how to show up in the world. In other words “be” with everything you’re experiencing.


To do that I’ve created a process for you….


***Disclaimer: If you have any history with depression, anxiety or anything else whereby you are seeing a medical professional for help. Please consult with them first before undertaking this practice.***



How to be in the world when it’s hurting



If you can, I recommend listening to the audio version of this blog post as you’ll be able to listen along to process I describe below:




If you just want the gist first here it is:


Step 1: Close down your eyes and get honest with how you’re feeling


Check in with how you are really feeling in this moment. 


For me I have this sense of heartache and heartbreak in my chest. I can go about my life, being with my kids, reading them a story but the heartache is still there. 


What is it that you’re feeling? If you want to, you can name it out loud.


Step 2: Notice where you feel in your body?


Without getting into the story of what you’re feeling, bring your awareness into the part of the body that feels that. 


I feel heartache/heartbreak and I feel that in my chest. It feels like a weight on my chest. It feels like constriction like it’s hard to breathe. Tears come quite quickly and naturally…


Drop the “should you be feeling it, why are you feeling it, what set you off” none of that matters. Just simply feel.


Step 3: Let yourself feel what you’re feeling


Unravel. You may feel like crying, shouting, punching a pillow. Stay close to the feeling. Moving as the feeling. 


This can feel really weird but the trick is to just feel the feels. Let it move through me. 


What it looks like is me rolling my shoulders, sighing out using my sound and breath and keeping my awareness on the feeling of heartache. 


Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach - Beach Image2

In all honesty, it might feel foreign or on the flips side a welcome release. What’ll happen is that you’ll start to feel. It’ll take as long or as little as you like.


Keep feeling. Roll with the sensations and the emotions. You simply let it move through you. 


This is a natural response, if you look at animals in the wild, where the lion is going after the gazelle and the gazelle makes the narrow escape. You’ll see the gazelle physically shake after that experience. You’ll see them completely shake it off. 


As humans we don’t do that. We hold it in, keep it together, numb, armour. Don’t show too much. Especially for women “don’t get to emotional now.”


In this space, just let yourself complete a very natural and normal response. 


Because the truth is when you look at the world it can feel very unsafe right now. It does get your hackles up. It does make you feel anxious. Your body needs to complete that cycle so that it can move on. 

If you need more time with this, take your own time to do this.

When you let this complete you’ll come to a place of reprieve, neutrality or pleasure. There is no right or wrong answer, you just want to find yourself in that new state.


Step 4: Ask your body what to do next

Ask yourself:


“What do I have to know here? What is it that I have to do?”


Maybe you want to donate money, offer some compassion and humanity in a group or voice your opinions more publicly. 


When you do this, you’re taking action from a clear space. 


Equally your body might not tell you to take some big action. It may simply tell you to go and take a nap, to spend some time with your kids, to do something for you. 


And all of that is OK. There is no judgment here. 



This is a self regulating practice. So that you are taking personal responsibility for yourself. Finding personal peace within yourself so then you can choose how you show up in the world.


My hope for you is that you take the time to do this.


Give it a try, notice how it feels and how it makes a difference for you. 


This is a simple embodiment process I’ve shared. 


I want you to know that you’re not alone in this. 


Feeling what you’re experiencing can seem scary and unknown. 


But it truly is the path to clearing your energy, coming to your space that is sovereign and powerful within yourself to then choose how to show up. 


I believe that when we do this work, we have greater capacity to offer our compassion, humanity and come up with creative solutions. 


Albert Einstein famously said “we can’t solve a problem at the same level of consciousness that created it.”


This process is one of the ways that you can change your consciousness around what’s happening and come up with a solution – big or small, personal or collectively. All of it matters. 




I hope that this has served you. 


Leave a comment below and how that experience was for you. 


Sending you so much love and peace. 


With love,



  1. Like!! I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest.

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