“I was walking along, minding my own business, when out of the blue…”
Ever utter those words or thoughts to yourself? Sometimes it can be as jarring as, “What the hell was that!”
For me, it wasn’t a wonderful surprise or unexpected event, but I suddenly realized that the world I was constructing for others, what I thought they were thinking or wanting, was way off. So far off, in fact, that a few people were not pleased with me.
There is no question my intentions were good. Having been in the helping profession for most of my career, this comes naturally to me. For a number of years, I was a high-level executive assistant where anticipating, planning and execution on behalf of my boss was required. Over the years I received encouragement and “a praise and a raise” for this ability to seamlessly and gracefully address and take care of the concerns of others. I carried this virtue forward and wore it with pride.
But that was then and this is now. What I began to notice, after life gave me this firm, yet not so subtle nudge, was how my thoughts and good intentions were just that — MY thoughts and MY good intentions, not those of the other. I would act upon the reality I had invented for the other person and then be surprised when the other wasn’t pleased with my efforts.
Expectations work the same way. I expect my friends to act or respond in a certain manner. I expect my team to carry out their responsibilities to my standards. Most of the time my friends, team and I are in good harmony, living and working well together. When that harmony is broken, when they do not do as I “expect,” which is bound to happen, my upset or disappointment appears instantly. It is only after a sharp response or blaming them that I realize I feel threatened and must protect myself.
When I look carefully and reflect, I can begin to observe the many expectations I have that, first of all, need to be clarified with myself. Is there something I want to be right about that I need to protect and maintain? Would a simple request to someone to stop encouraging me to eat more easily take care of the situation?
As you know, we are all so busy. Who has time for reflection and examination? Who has time to lay out expectations and come to agreement with others on standards and ways of working and being together? And yet, who has time to spend hours distracted, resentful or angry, leaving broken or upset relationships in their wake.
Who has the time…
But we must take, not make, the time. We must be able to listen to ourselves, discover and self-correct into self-generating. We must stop, see the person in front of us and listen with fresh “ears.” And let’s admit it, there are many, many people who cannot and will not be able to do this. Fear dominates them and the notion of relaxing into something different is just not possible for them at this time. (The good news, history has shown that great warriors can become great advocates for peace.)
Let us help each other along by being able, with as little judgment as possible, truly see each other, witness and be curious. Who are they? We all want to be seen and witnessed at a deep core level. When this happens, a bit more of our soma can relax, which in turn relaxes our minds and emotions. It doesn’t mean we have to agree, which sets up right/wrong, yes/no, agree/disagree. All we have to do is take a deep breath, relax and witness.
It is incumbent upon those of us who can be self-reflective, who can observe and feel when there is misalignment, to bring our years of practice to this moment. Our friends, families and communities need the merit of our practice and our wisdom born of deep reflections and difficult self-realizations.
The time is now to fully inhabit our bodies and use them as instruments of peace, not anger and hate.
What do you think?