This is an updated version of an article written originally in 2006 and posted on

It’s one thing to want change and another to recognize when you or your clients are actually in the process of changing. The term processing refers to what you experience when real-time, live change takes place. This includes the releasing of old fears, beliefs and patterns. The change can take place on all levels: Physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual.

Recognizing when and how you process puts a very different frame around what may be an uncomfortable or confusing experience. Understanding what’s going on when your clients are processing will give you much greater bandwidth for allowing their discomfort without getting hooked into “making it all better.”

Perhaps more important though is that understanding what it means to be in process and knowing how to spot it allows you to validate some of the less obvious indicators progress is actually underway.

Indicators that you may be processing:

  • Feeling mentally foggy
  • Feeling tired, draggy, sluggish or sleepy (change can take a lot of energy)
  • Being irritable or grouchy
  • Tears, weepiness
  • Laughter, giggles
  • Sighing and or yawning
  • Burping, digestive gurgling, even queasiness or nausea
  • Frequent or sudden trips to the bathroom (releasing the “old” can take a physical form)
  • Tingles, feeling of energy moving through body
  • Sometimes a sharp, momentary “owie” – literally a little jabbing pain that comes and goes quickly
  • Burst of energy, feeling revved up
  • Headaches, cold or flu symptoms, even sneezing repeatedly

Here’s a specific example: I tend to process grief through my lungs. When I get “croupy” or start wheezing, it that tells me I have grief coming up, quite physically through my lungs.

If you need to occupy your mind while change is taking place, you may find yourself  reading or zoning in front of the telly. The challenge is to stay present with yourself in order to discern whether this is avoidance or part of the process of change.

One of the more dramatic processing experiences I had was when I remodeled a home while going through a divorce. I came to realize the physical acts of painting, and papering, of ripping out old fixtures (way fun!) and putting in new structures was more than a way to keep my mind busy. It was also more than a physical reflection of the internal processing.

In that instance, the kinesthetic experience was a part of how I facilitated the internal change. As I painted, papered, deconstructed and reconstructed externally, I could feel the internal tearing down and rebuilding taking place. (The moral of this story is: You can spend $20k on therapy or on remodeling, and sometimes come out at the same place in your journey WITH the added benefit of a lovely new environment as a daily physical celebration of the journey. How cool is that?!)

Becoming more fully present with yourself allows you to be more present with friends, family and clients. The awareness that comes from your ever-deepening self connection helps you notice and track energetic nuances more accurately, for yourself as well as with others.

If you are a coach or other professional who supports clients’ growth or transformation, watch for energy shifts with your clients, both individually and in group sessions. You can develop the ability to discern when a client or a group goes into processing.

If you are a manager, executive, business owner: Be in observation, with yourself and those around you, to notice when processing is occurring.

When you can recognize and work with processing, you stop fighting the symptoms and instead support yourself and others in moving through it. Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” you ask what’s needed to support yourself through active change.

Surrendering to the truth that you are processing can actually mitigate resistance to change and make it easier to process the change.

So what’s a body to do when you choose change, desire expansion yet still need to keep functioning in today’s world? Sure it would be great to have the flexibility to be a lump on the couch all day and be immersed in a book or tv, but like me, you probably have other commitments requiring your time and energy.

To stay out of overwhelm, learn to recognize how you process. Give yourself permission ’cause it’s going to happen anyway, so why fight it? Dialogue with the parts of your self that resist change to invite them to have a voice in what happens along the way. You may be surprised at how much this can smooth the way when your processing becomes a little intense.

I hear a lot of people reflecting how quickly their inner landscapes are moving these days.  Get a lot of people together on a planet, with a lot of change in the air and you get not just confusion but

C O N F U S I O N!

The key here is not to add anyone else’s confusion to your own. This requires ever-increasing ability to stay in your own energy as you open up to yourself. Why? Because that continued opening causes you to be more sensitized to the energies of the world around us. Self awareness and the self responsibility of managing your own energy are foundational for the journey into mastery for anyone, including coaches, managers and all humans in transformation!

My intention with this article is to make it easier for you to be with yourself and others in the process of change. If you can recognize the signs of processing, you can be present to processing, yours and someone else’s, much more productively.

May all of your journeys in change be productive!