Learn how one woman discovered how to change a negative recurring pattern in her life.
I am humbled by the wisdom that emerges from the clients I get to work with. One woman’s wisdom that emerged when trying to change a recurring pattern in her life – is so simple and yet creates changes so profound – that I’ve passed it on every chance I get. “It is all true . . . if it’s all about me. But it is not all about me. What else is it about?”
The recurring pattern that we noted from within our first sessions together – was in situations where she was receiving criticism. In these moments, she would want to both fight (how dare you say that to me!) and fly away (what if it is true – I’m a terrible person) and instead would “freeze” (not able to respond, but just sit in that moment feeling totally vulnerable, no longer truly listening to the person but moving into both criticizing herself and recalling every moment that would prove that this criticism was unfounded, unjust and wrong or even worse – correct). After the moment was over, her mind was preoccupied with the possible next conversation with this person, or ways to avoid this person, or ways to express her anger in a letter, email or text.
After exploring what was happening in her body as she “froze” – we started noting that she didn’t feel anything in her body – so we started playing back what happened and started paying attention to the moment before she froze. Usually in these moments there were some anxieties under the surface -“did she do everything she had committed to doing?” that were accompanied by some butterflies in the stomach. So the criticism came as a “you caught me” moment and then what I would call the “deer in the headlights” moment. So the questions she began to ask of this recurring pattern were: “How do I handle this moment of being frozen – where every muscle is tense?”; and “What could get me moving again in the moment without getting angry at myself or the other person?”
There are two pieces that I often ask clients: “how can we honor what your body is telling you?”; and “how can we turn judgment into curiosity?” Her answers to these questions also answered hers and allowed her wisdom to emerge. First she acknowledged that her body was completely tense and recognized that in this moment she was mainly thinking of herself – “It’s all true . . . if it’s all about me.” There was no judgment in this statement – but an acceptance that her body had stiffened. The wisdom in these words was providing an “if” statement that she could see was not %100 accurate. Situations are never fully about ourselves – something is going on with the other person – my client’s curiosity opened as she states in her head, “But it is not all about me . . . what else is it about?” which allowed for her to find out what concerns others had and why they might even bring this up with her. In this moment, her body relaxed and it gave her a purpose to find out more about the other person and the situation.
Hearing how her life changed, first as she looked back on other situations with this new perspective (which changed emails, texts and conversations from defensiveness to questions) and as she was able to share stories of when she caught herself in the moment and moved directly into questions that deepened her relationships with others.
So I invite all of you, when you are feeling a sudden burst of emotion, or gut wrenching sensation, triggered by someone else’s words or actions to say to yourself – “This is all true . . . if it’s all about me, but it is not all about me, what else is it about?” And then discover what happens next.
I would appreciate the sharing of personal observations/comments/questions if you try this. You can send them privately through my contact page on my website (www.bemindfullywell.com), message my public Facebook page, or provide a public comment.