We do not learn from experience.
We learn from reflecting on experience.
~ John Dewey
found on pinterest
We do not learn from experience.
We learn from reflecting on experience.
~ John Dewey
found on pinterest
I don’t know about your week, but as I drove in traffic, spoke with people on the phone and stood in line at the grocery store, I was very aware that it’s heating up on Planet Earth. You can see it, hear it and feel it. It’s heating up in the news. Escalating at work. Ramping up in relationships. It is becoming unavoidable.
Intensity = Inner growth
From my perspective this is an incredible opportunity to do the (inner growth) work. Everything points to it. The squeeze. The pressures. It’s intense for a reason. A large, yet regularly ignored, part of you is crying out for you to do the work, to bring these things that are causing pain and pressure into awareness. To be seen, acknowledged and allowed to find resolution. It’s natural. The unnatural thing is ignoring, resisting, denying and hiding. Putting it off only means what we have to face later will be harder. The more we avoid our issues, the louder and bigger and more complicated they get.
If you’re ready to dig in, here are a few past posts to support you in getting a good, strong start:
There are resources everywhere. Ask and they will show up! I’m one. Looking for someone to help guide you through it all? Contact me. Remember: It doesn’t matter how you begin. Just that you begin.
To quote Aristotle:
It takes great courage and inner strength to change from what is known and comfortable to something which is new and fresh. That which is unknown often contains our greatest potential. To step courageously from the old ways and habits into new directions and endeavors will bring great favor.
Header Image: The Inner Growth by Andre Ferrella | Evolutionary Artist of the Spirit
Conflict as mirror…
Inner conflicts, global conflicts, conflicts in relationships, work conflicts. In this world, especially now, it seems there is conflict everywhere. They’re all mirrors.
Your life, your relationships, your world is a mirror, a way for you to see you better. And also a way to see what is not you. In one of my sessions with Barbara With, I was given a perspective that would change my whole relationship I have with my world and the idea of that world being a mirror for me. That is, I would never be able to directly see the back of my own head with my own eyes. Think about it. The only way for you to see the back of your own head is to see a reflection of it in a mirror. And so, too, many other things we need to see about ourselves, our relationships, our behavior. The people and situations around us show us what we need to see about us. They are part of us doing our own work. Our OWN work. Understanding our own feelings, experiences, behaviors, issues. That’s all that is required of us. We cannot change what’s outside of us. We can only be responsible for our own domain, ourselves. That’s why the mirror is so powerful. It reminds us to stop pointing our finger outward and turn it inward. What is there for us to see when we stop blaming the other person? That person has their work to do, as well. It does take two to tango. But that is up to them. They need to attend to their part of the conflict and you with yours.
Seeing our whole selves…
Emotion, feeling, sensing, these are all a natural part of you, of your systems. Just as real and just as important, maybe more so, as the body and mind. This is not what our culture dictates or encourages, however. We have been in the era of the mind for so long. The rational mind valued to the exclusion of all else. THE MIND AS GOD. You can see it play out in the world around you and the greater world. In the wake of that, anything and everything that falls in the arena of emotions, feeling, sensing, intuition has been seen as weakness or often not seen, recognized or valued at all. All you need to do is open a history book to see countless examples, ranging from mild to extreme. We spend countless years and dollars educating the mind and very little attention is paid to the understanding, nurturing or development of feeling and sensing. Our world has been set up this way.
But, things are changing. A new era is upon us. And the wise will, in my view, adopt a new approach (as suggested in the Tobias materials).
FEEL FIRST. THEN THINK.
Simple enough. Easy? Not at first, if my experience is any indicator. We are shaped and trained, not with any malicious intent of course, to think or react, really. “Use your head!” Sound familiar? Can you hear that parent or teacher or some authority figure shouting that at you? And then anytime there are feelings that arise, look out. Especially the “bad ones”, like fear, sadness, grief, anxiety. People get uncomfortable. They don’t know what to do. Which is why you may also have heard things like: “Big boys don’t cry!” “Don’t be such a baby!” None of that makes you want to feel your feelings. It teaches you to hide them, stuff them, deny them. And now there’s a whole new wing of the pharmaceutical industry to help you do just that.
But here’s the thing…feeling, sensing, intuiting are natural. They are as much a part of you just like your arm or brain. They come before the thoughts and are experienced in the body. They have a flow to them. They move through you, informing the whole of you as they do. Words, information and stories follow the feelings. They don’t lead them. But that’s not what we’re taught. When feelings and emotion are not allowed to flow through the body, they become backed up and trapped in an abnormal way and can become abscessed or form a blockage, just like the physical body can experience an abscess.
Also, ALL of the feelings are important. Over time we’ve created a list of good ones and bad ones. Instead, think of feelings or emotions like color. Anger is red, anxiety is blue, joy is pink. What would happen if you took red out of the world? The whole world would literally LOOK different. All the colors are natural. All feels and emotions are natural.
Let’s take a look…
Now, how do we apply this perspective? I’ve had a lot of practice with this! Here’s an example of how it has worked for me.
Let’s say, I’m going merrily along in my day and then something happens and I get triggered, I have an emotional reaction. Such as, a friend calls to chat and in the course of our conversation, she says something to me that I perceive as mean or insensitive. This results in me getting my “feelings hurt” and feeling “bad and upset”. In other words, some external condition changes and it causes an internal reaction. I am triggered. A strong feeling/emotion hits me. It feels like a wave that might overwhelm me or pull my feet out from under me. My stomach begins to churn. My mind is spinning like a top. The mind chatter is getting faster and louder, so much so that I can hardly hear all the messages. I’m anxious and panicking and formulating a story around this situation. I just want to feel better. I want it to never have happened.
Let’s step back and look at this from a different view. My friend’s comment triggered me because there is an issue or wound that it touched on. This experience is a mirror for me, showing me more of me to me. If I didn’t have this wound, I either wouldn’t have attracted the experience to me in the first place, or if I did, her comment wouldn’t have caused me to react. It would have slid right off, like water on a duck’s back.
So the good news is that I got triggered. This is a gift. I know, right?
I hear your doubts, your skepticism.
“This bad thing happening to me is a good thing. Right (eye roll here).”
But truly it is. This wound, issue or blockage is now exposed, loudly, painfully, so you can see it clearly. So you can be fully aware of it. Eyes wide open. Otherwise, it’s just there, hidden, wreaking havoc, having a negative effect on your life without you knowing about it. Insidiously. With this new perspective you can now see it, and get at the roots of it to heal it…if you seize on this opportunity.
I’m triggered…now what?
So here’s the shift in experience, the tool for next time, because those issues and wounds want to come to resolution, want to be healed and released. And our conditioned response isn’t supporting us in that effort. It’s been the norm, but it’s not natural.
According to the transformative work offered by Barbara With, called Conflict REVOLUTION, the following is a more compassionate approach to the scenario (and one I’ve used so often in my own life).
You’re triggered. Your job, in that moment of anxiety, fear, anger, panic, is to not solve the problem. Instead of trying to solve the problem, your job is to 1) notice it – the feelings, emotions, physical sensations, the mind telling stories; 2) stop thinking about it – this takes discipline and practice, but simply stop thinking about the situation, loosen your grip on the thoughts, relax the mind; 3) feel all the feelings, emotions, sensations – feel them in your body, breathing, letting them flow through you, just feel the feelings and let them pass through, for as long as it takes to get back to calm and center.
All of these steps are made much easier with the help of the breath. The deep, conscious breath. It gets the energies flowing, it connects you to you, it gets you calmer and more centered faster. Deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the nose. Three or four and you’ll notice such a difference and you’ll feel much more prepare to do what’s needed.
I know how this sounds, but at this point, don’t try to feel better, to make it ok. Just feel and breathe. No thinking. Feel and breathe.
Once you’re back to center, calm, balanced, take on your thoughts. Now is the time to begin exploring what’s in the mirror, peeling back the layers, exposing the wisdom and getting at the root. Your best approach is to let go of the idea that anything outside of you is the source of the problem or issue.
Here are some questions to get at all of that:
What is story? Who’s to blame? What did “they” do to me? What is worry? These are based in fear and are based in the mind.
What’s true? What’s real? What really happened? What am I feeling? These are based in love and based in the heart.
More leading questions to get at the wisdom…
What do I want? How do I want the solution to go? How do I want to experience this situation going forward, this relationship going forward?
What are the gifts in this situation? Why is it perfect? What can I learn about myself? What’s the wisdom to be gleaned? How is this linked or similar to experiences and relationships from my childhood, early adulthood, and other parts of my life?
Write it down. Talk it through with a friend or a Coach, who can be neutral and will stay out of drama. Get it out. This helps with clarity and helps you to stop chewing on it in your mind.
Eventually, you’ll be able to hear what the next steps are. You’ll be able to tease out the action steps that are sovereign, loving and for the good of the whole. Listening within and honoring your intuition is key here, but that’s a whole other post!
Those darn voices…
If you’re like me, in the wake of a challenging situation you hear lots of messages in your head. I refer to them a bit in my post called Long Live the Queen. They sound like bullies and have the flavor of “wrong” to them. They are NOT yours. You are not a victim to them. You are your own authority. This is the time to claim that authority and let them know they’re not running the show. It’s time to put them in their place and turn those degenerative messages around, the ones that create doubt and feel like they’re tearing you down. It’s time to question them and turn the words into supportive, regenerative messages. This bit was critical in my journey. The following is a peek into my head at one of those “conversations”.
[In the voice of a stern parent or authority figure of your choosing]
“You’re NOT HELPING, ugly, belittling voices! I know you want this solved. I do too! I WILL solve it. I fully intend to resolve this. Now sit down, shut up and let me do it!”
Feels good just typing it!
Truth in the mirror…
It took me awhile to want to see what was waiting for me in the mirror. It felt scary and challenging (there’s so many other words I could use here, but we’ll keep it neutral ; ) ). And sometimes the mirror was so foggy, confusing and unclear. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. As I mentioned, many of the wounds and issues I needed to explore had the flavor of “wrong” to them. It was painful to look, knowing there was a possibility that I would get more hits of that energy. I had to cultivate the skills, courage and discipline around the idea of the mirror, taking my perspective that had so firmly been held outwardly and turn it inward.
I adopted a compassionate approach. I learned to see it all through very gentle eyes. The eyes of compassion. From the compassionate view, there’s no judgment. It’s all just experience. The wrong didn’t have to be there. From this view, everything is happening for a reason, my highest good. It’s all serving me somehow. Even the painful parts and parts that suck.
And remember, in the beginning, jolt, the pain, the discomfort, is all happening in order to get our attention. It doesn’t have to continue to be that way. The more priority we put on awareness and being conscious, the less pain and suffering there needs to be in this personal exploration. That truth motivated me to open my eyes wide and keep them open! Over time, the experience felt more and more like love of self and compassion for self. And that can only mean more love and compassion for others. There are no losers in this…only winners!
Eventually I became so grateful for those mirrors! They were moving me forward to a more authentic me. I was healing my past. And the more I looked, the more I also saw my beauty, love, friendship, compassion and authenticity reflecting back at me.
The mirror is just a reflection. Not good or bad. It just shows what there is to see.
Are you ready to take a look?
Image found on Pinterest
Photo of Tall Mirror courtesy of The Demolition Depot, NY