These are not easy times to live in! There are tensions all over, serious things to be concerned about.
But even if what you’re concerned about is serious and real, you don’t have to let anxiety take you over and make you reactive to the other people in your life. YOU can still be inwardly peaceful.
And that has a positive impact on everyone around you… as my student Steve discovered.
In this episode, you’ll get an exercise to bring you support when you get shamed for creating a boundary and saying “no”.
Steve is retired and on a limited income. To save money, he moved in with his 85-year-old mother. That arrangement benefitted her too, as she was starting to need someone around to keep an eye on things. All sweet and good, right?
Well, not always.
Sometimes the two of them would rub each other the wrong way.
Steve’s Mom especially didn’t like it if he said no to her about something. She’d lash out with shaming language, then he’d bark back, and then they’d be under a cloud for days, with a lingering feeling of resentment… and on Steve’s part, kind of an antsy wondering when she would spring on him again.
But then Steve learned something from me in an online class and it shifted everything!
The skill that Steve learned has two parts.
The first one is to pause in the moment. Right there, when the trigger is happening, find some way to pause.
And second, to turn toward the feelings you’re having with interested curiosity and compassion, knowing that YOU are not the feelings.
You are bigger than the feelings, so you can listen to them.
And here’s what happened.
Steve had been looking at his bank account, thinking about how little money he had to get through the month. Right then, his mother asked if he could help her out financially, without saying why.
He said no, regretfully, as he had only slightly over $100 to his name at the moment. Well, she tore right in, shaming him: “You waste your money on junk! You should stop spending money on stupid things!”
Steve’s usual reaction of lashing back at her started to come out of him. But before that could happen, he paused. So powerful, that pause! He was just silent for a long moment, and his mother stomped off.
Steve sensed his own pain and anger… AND he turned toward it, saying to his own feelings, “Let’s pause here. I sense that was pretty painful to experience. Let me be with you right now and if you want to tell me something, I’m listening.”
He heard the anger, He heard the “something in him” saying, “It’s so unfair, what she said!” He listened, and he made room for even more to come.
The feelings of pain and anger started to calm down as they felt heard and understood.
Then something amazing happened.
Steve started to think about his mother’s point of view. Why, for a combination of reasons… none of which she had mentioned, she would be especially worried about money right now. He felt empathy for her. He thought, “No wonder she’s upset.”
His body relaxed, and he felt no more need to get back at her.
He didn’t seek her out afterwards to discuss what happened. He just let it be.
But something had changed between them. This time there wasn’t that lingering resentment and tension. Now Steve doesn’t feel he has to be so “ready to fight” when it seems like she’s about to go into shaming mode and actually, when he thinks she’s about to, she seems to back away from it now.
See, when we’re part of a pattern with another person, they get upset, we lash back, but when we change… they change too!
And it wasn’t just that Steve simply stopped reacting.The real change was that he gave company to his own feelings so that they felt heard… and that allowed him to naturally and easily have compassion for his mother as well.
Do you know how aggravating it is, when you’re angry with someone, to be told you “should” see it from their point of view? Oof! No, this is different from that…When we have empathy for our own feelings, it makes room for a natural empathy for the other to arise.
They still shouldn’t have done what they did! But now we see why… and that does make a difference. To both people!
So, that process again:
ONE: Pause. Just pause. Because your automatic quick reaction is going to be the old one. You don’t know what will happen when you pause. But now something new CAN happen.
TWO: Turn to your own feelings and give them some empathy. Say to them inwardly, “I know how you feel, and I’m here. I’m listening.”
It’s so simple… and it can make things so much better.
Do you want to have more of my tips for calm in the midst of stress? Get my free e-course, Get Bigger Than What’s Bugging You. It’s full of these simple miracles!
Here’s to you… having a more peaceful life!So here’s to you… having a more peaceful life.
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