Breathe deep and count to 10

2019-05-01 06:02

FOCUSING on a path of least resistance is the line of thought that took some time to make sense for me. You know the glib adages of “count to 10 before you respond or breathe deep”.

Mostly they went over my head and I saw them as responses of monks who live and meditate in isolated mountains. It mostly did not take much for me to blow a gasket; I had little tolerance for things that did not make sense.

My short fuse in temper was not serving me well, even things that were quite rightly justified still did not leave me feeling good. It was this inner turmoil that prompted me to look closely at these adages of being “slow to anger and seek to understand rather than being understood”.

It’s been slow-going since last year to practise non-response to provocation and watching alternative results. Two specific personal triggers were observing senseless machismo and embedded unconscious acts of entitlement. We all have our own things that drive us up the wall. Pay attention to those, they can be your invaluable teachers. Investigate what it is that triggers you so much that if you let rage take over, you may find yourself in a mess. I have had to learn that these triggers are body information letting you know that inside of you there are unattended wounds.

I have had to learn that while rage may feel like a mighty warm place to be; it is draining and disempowering, literally taking the wind out of your sails. I know this because after fuming about this, that and the other, I often felt tired and helpless with no change of behaviour from my object of dissatisfaction.

What then is the alternative to the things that spoil our day and leave us drained?

This is what I have picked up. Since I have started to question the rising emotions and being steady with my reactions, I have noticed a de-escalation of negativity. Mostly non-response is viewed as weakness but I have learnt that it takes real strength to bend with the winds rather than to resist. It deffuses and confuses the aggressor.

I have noticed that most of the things that angered me were things I was unconsciously consenting to being tortured by.

Somewhere in me I felt I had agreed for my wounded self to feel that as a woman I was a lesser being to a man, I had agreed that as a black person I was less intelligent than a white person, I had agreed that poverty was in my lineage and it couldn’t be changed.

All these are lies now that I know I am fearfully made and I am enough. These are deep hurtful wounds that have become my wise teachers and allies. So if a man acted out in his manways, it provoked that part in me that felt uneasy; if a racist bigot acted out his privilege I was triggered; and if a rich person drew his class card I acted out from my wounded self.

There are days where there is such beautiful clarity in watching life happen, and me taking the path of least resistance. I could cry just observing what a difference it has made to my health. I also have days where I get punched right back down to that wounded self when I am caught off guard by my triggers.

The constant reminder in such situations has been knowing that I can begin again and again without guilt-shaming myself over my responses. Guilt, like fear, can be lethal if we don’t acquaint ourselves with them and rope them in as allies and indicators of where we are at.

Similarly those people and situations in our lives that we can’t stand or understand how we are tied up with them, they are there for a reason. They are acting out their own wounds. We have unconscious agreements to expand our clarity; observing our wound-making and wound-healing. They are not there by mistake.

My sweet spot with all of this is that I know now that my sense of peace will not come with a change of behaviour from those who irritate my inner wounds. It has to start with me changing the way I look at them, understanding them rather them being understood.

The late Dr Wayne Dyer used to say “change the way you look at things and the things you look at change”. So here’s to us climbing down from our righteous pedestals and embracing our frenemies, bigots and machismo men as our teachers and partners on a journey to sealing our wounds.

Once you start to think of them this way, the world will not be a hostile place out to get you, but full of associates working with you on your growth.

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