Last weekend during a visit with a friend, I noticed that I was expressing myself more freely, without the normal filters. At the same time, I also was more aware of my reactions to the things that were said to me. I was pleased with this increased awareness and freedom, the result being a greater feeling of aliveness and awareness. I am so often amazed by the things there are to learn about me when I put myself out there in dialogue with other people.
My friend, on the other hand, was not so fond of this increased freedom of being that I was experiencing. She was choosing to hurt herself with my teasing. She decided to express to me her discontent. I made some interesting observations during that dialogue and I became aware of three possible choices I could make based on the information she had chosen to share with me.
Her dialogue started with the teasing issue. Here is my interpretation of what she was saying to me. (I suspect that it had little to do with what she actually said!) She was telling me that my teasing was distancing us in dialogue and that if I wanted to be closer to her, I should choose another way of being.
My reaction is an example of one of the possible choices I could have made. This choice came from a place of being unaware – working on autopilot so to speak – a place I can often react from. I do not know why but I shifted and became aware of the things I was saying. I realized that I was taking something she said and throwing it right back as fast as I could. As soon as I noticed, I took a breath or two. The result was that I moved out of that place of mud slinging to one where I was open to dialogue and present with my friend.
I then reported that I had made the choice to feel attacked and that my new choice was to be there – present with her. I’m sure my communication was not as elegant as I just made it sound but that was my intent. I shared this information with her as I believe it coloured some of the things I had said previously. This choice to fling "hurt" back comes from a place of being unaware. This is a choice I can make and one I am becoming more aware of doing. With awareness comes the possibility of different choices. The conversation continued.
My friend commented on my crossed arms. She interpreted this to be my shutting myself off from her. I reported to her that I was not aware of any feelings of shutting down. (I am an expert at shutting down!!) I was more than happy to uncross my arms and did so for the remainder of the conversation. This is an example of another of the three possible choices I could make when information from another person comes my way. I took what she said simply as information. I did not agree with my friend’s interpretation of my crossed arms, I simply reported this, had no reaction to what I was told, uncrossed my arms and continued the conversation.
My friend did me a great favour when she pointed this out to me. When I uncrossed my arms, the energy flowed through my body in a whole new, amazing way. I got lost in that wonderful feeling for awhile. My whole body vibrated and I truly enjoyed being alive. Now I want to learn how to have that alive feeling more often. Guess I will work at not crossing my arms to start with.
Soon I returned to the dialogue in time to learn even more about myself. My friend often talks about her stuff that she projects onto me and this can colour the way she relates to me. What I heard was that she projected onto me characteristics about herself that she did not easily accept about herself. My head took that one step further. If she did not like these things about herself then they must be "bad." If what she sees in me reminds her of these "bad" things she does not like about herself then I must be this bad, awful person. She is never going to like me. I’ll never have a chance to be in relationship with her and have her like me. I must be this awful, terrible person. Woe is me. I went right into the feelings big time. I felt everything there was to feel. I cried. It lasted about 3 minutes by my clock then I re-framed my thinking. "Wait a minute. That’s not me. That’s not what I think of me. I like me. Nobody else’s opinion matters." A few deep breaths and the feelings passed. It took a few minutes to clear my head and then I reported what I had done, where I had gone and that I was finished. I felt clear again.
This is a third choice I have. Sometimes I think I need to feel the feelings, go into them, have the experience and be finished with it. Three minutes was long enough. I felt a release and I was finished with that piece.
Of my three possible choices – I am working hard at staying present in my feelings and thoughts so as not to react without knowing. I will admit to reacting without knowing as soon as I notice. My goal would be to simply notice a feeling I have, acknowledge it if necessary, take a breath and carry on. I may need to take a few minutes to experience the feelings, but there’s no need to stay stuck in them.