Deep breaths help us sort through the clutter


One of the greatest reasons my clients hire me for executive coaching is to help them get clear. Anxiety has a way of creating fog in our minds and speeds up our internal processor, creating confusion instead of clarity.

To help my clients get clear and have greater wisdom, I teach them a three-step process. It begins with breathing. Yes, just breathing. Most of us are in such a hurry these days that we run around telling ourselves we don’t have enough time to get all the things done we need to do. This type of self-talk can cause us to breathe more quickly and with shallow breaths that hang on top of our chest, instead of deeply into our bellies. As we hurry along our lives, checking off our to-do list, we become unaware that we are hardly breathing.

Such shallow breathing causes the corpus callosum in our brain to contract, making it difficult for us to navigate back and forth from the right hemisphere of our brains to the left hemisphere. In addition, our brainwave and heart waves get out of synch with each other, which causes unclear thinking. This is an issue as ideas and emotions manifest in the right hemisphere of the brain and come to life in language and in the linear form of a plan through our left hemisphere of our brain. When we don’t breathe deeply, we get stuck in our right hemisphere of our brain with ideas floating around, causing us anxiety because we feel dis-empowered to get others to understand and hear us. The truth is, we first have to hear the wisdom within ourselves, before we can be heard.

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By breathing deeply, we become whole-brain thinkers and are able to more clearly see how our ideas string together to create a stream-lined path to our goal. What follows is an articulate explanation of what needs to be done, instead of a command of “just do it!” or a rambling of thoughts that don’t make much sense to you, or others.

We know when we are being clear and articulate because we see the clarity in our minds first.

The words then become clear and therefore are understood by others.

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Let me give you an example of how this works from a recent coaching session I had, just this morning. I was working with a land developer from another state who had found sand on one of his farm fields. When he learned the sand could be mined to oil, he decided to learn the process of mining on his own so he could get more for his land and eventually sell it. Now, after 18 months of developing, he was facing his first offer and something was not sitting right about the offer to him. When I asked him what did not feel right to him, he spoke rapidly as he listed several different things that bothered him, spending a lot of energy venting and then getting more frustrated as he spoke. Noticing his rapid breath and speech, I suggested we just take a moment and breathe. I helped him to slow down, and gradually breathe more deeply past his chest and into his belly. As he did this, he was shifting his brainwave from busy-Beta, to Alpha: the brainwave that would assist him in opening up his corpus callosum and therefore gaining more clarity and wisdom in his situation.

After about three minutes, I asked him just one question: “Tell me what you know about the deal?”

His answer was simple, clear and confident: “I can do better. It’s not quite right yet and needs further negotiation.”

Then I asked another simple question, “What would make it right?” His answer again was simple and clear, “They need to show us how they will get the funding to build the business if I am going to keep 20 percent of the deal. I trust they have the talent to build the business. I just need to know they have the funds so my 20 percent continued ownership becomes worth something.”

When we were done, he laughed and asked what magic I did to bring out the wisdom in him. I said, “You just couldn’t hear yourself amongst the chatter of the anxiety in your mind. By breathing, we quieted your mind. Once we quieted your mind, we were able to focus on one question your wisdom could answer. Then, you just needed to listen to the wisdom that was always there.”


How might breathing more deeply and focusing on one question at a time help you to be more wise and articulate? n

Susan K. Wehrley is an Executive Coach and Consultant who helps companies further their Strategic Plan. She is also an author of 5 books, with her most recent book called, Ignite “The Plan”: To Live your American Dream! ( She is the president of Susan K. Wehrley & Associates, Inc. ( and president and CEO of BIZremedies ( You can reach Susan by email at

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