I went for a walk in the ravine the other day. Usually, I like to do a loop but I didn’t have as much time that day so I decided to do an out and back walk. I like doing a loop so that I am not covering the same terrain and seeing the same things. Once I had turned around and was heading back on the same trail, what hit me was that even though I was walking on the same trail, I had a different vantage point, a different perspective on what was around me. I saw things that I didn’t see on the way out. I then started to play with where I was putting my focus. Most of the time, I am looking straight ahead down the trail. So I began looking to the right and after a while, I looked to the left. Then I looked up and then I walked backwards looking behind me. It was quite a cool experience because I saw things that I had never seen before even though I have walked that path many times before. It is amazing what is all around us that we don’t see.
The experience was a metaphor for what happens for us in life. We have an experience and then when we have an opportunity to have a similar experience again, we tend to bring our past into the present by placing our expectations and assumptions on how the next experience is going to go based on how it went in the past. We expect it to be the same. Instead, we can open ourselves up to the possibility that it could be very different. What makes it different is the perspective we take, the lens through we which we view the experience. Having awareness in the moment can help us choose which perspective we take.
I have been experimenting with being with my emotions lately. What I mean by that is instead of reacting to my emotions, I am just observing them, allowing them to be without trying to fix them or change them in any way. I was triggered the other day by the behaviour of one of my girls. I felt myself getting angry and preparing to react to her behaviour. Because I had awareness in the moment that I was being triggered, I was able to pause, take some breaths and ground myself. I could then choose my response from a more centred place instead of the tsunami I was about to unleash on my poor child. Don’t get me wrong, I was still feeling angry inside. I just wasn’t taking it out on her. I realized that somewhere deep inside me was being triggered and it wasn’t her that I was angry at all. I was then able to just be with this anger until it subsided without having to do anything about it. I learned that I was attaching the belief that I wasn’t good enough to her not listening to me. It was all my shit and not hers. I was able to have a different perspective in that moment because I was aware I was being triggered. I had choice about how I responded instead of blindly reacting. Now this does not happen all the time. I am not aware moment to moment of when I am triggered so I still have not so stellar parenting moments but I am celebrating that it was one parenting moment that came from a conscious place instead of my subconscious mind reacting. The people who trigger us in our lives can be great teachers for us if we let them be. They help bring our unconscious stuff out into the open so that we can see it and release the grip it has on us.
It really bugs me that society in general views being sad as bad. Being mad is bad. We shouldn’t feel these emotions because they are bad and we need to do something to change it. I was feeling sad after my mom died and someone suggested I take some anti-depressants (to fix it). What the hell is wrong with being sad after your mom dies? It’s kind of a natural emotion to feel don’t you think? I knew that wasn’t the answer for me because I knew that it would change at some point in time and that it was temporary. Being uncomfortable is OK. It doesn’t mean I am in danger. I didn’t need to fix it, squash it, bury it or fight it. I just needed to allow it to be. I was still functioning well. I didn’t need to drink the sadness away, drug it away, eat it away, exercise it away or beat myself up for feeling that way. I was sad until I wasn’t anymore.
Pain is a funny thing. We do all we can to run away from it, avoid it, fight it, resist it and ignore it because our ego mind tells us that we are in danger if we feel it. What is interesting is that I have found the opposite to be true. If I allow myself to acknowledge, accept and feel the pain, whether it is physical or emotional, it often dissipates. My perspective on pain is that there is much learning for me about myself from the pain I experience and once I open myself to receive that teaching, the pain has done its job and often leaves. When I view pain to be bad and to be avoided at all costs, it sticks around. When I view pain to be one of my teachers in life, pain is no longer bad. It just is.
My invitation to you this week is to ask yourself if there is a struggle or issue in your life right now that you may have a rigid view of or you may feel stuck with. Is there another perspective you could have instead? Are you being repeatedly triggered by the same thing or person? Why are you being triggered? Go inward and see if there are answers waiting for you. Play with just being with your emotions and observing them instead of reacting to them and taking them out on other people. It will feel foreign at first but stick with it and see what happens. And please be gentle with yourself if you do end up reacting and barfing all over someone. We are human after all. Learn from it and move on. When we don’t do something well, if we stick with it long enough, we will eventually become good at it.