What's happening when you sense a knot in your gut or a tightness in your chest? Have you ever paid attention to what preceded the sensation? Was it something you heard or saw? A conversation you had? What feeling lurks beneath the physical sensation?
We all know how nervousness and anticipation feel, I'm curious about the sensations that arrive when encountering something we don't like. It's surprising how few people notice the physical response that accompanies emotion — and yet it's not — if you pay attention to what's happening to you, you'll have to take responsibility for yourself.
It's easy to blame, rationalize and justify why and how someone else is the cause of your discomfort, anger or sadness. But, if you take the time to look beneath the surface, I bet you'll find an unexpressed and perhaps unknown expectation within yourself that you've projected onto the other.
When my son, for the gazillionth time, asked if he could go out late on Saturday evening even though he was grounded, I found myself angry — as any parent can probably relate. It was as if he was trying to wear me down until I gave in. While muttering to myself about my frustration, I wondered how I would feel if I gave in. I came up with disappointment; but not at him, at myself. Holding my son accountable for his actions is a value of mine, it demonstrates stability, honesty, and follow-through. If I were to give him what he wants, I would display none of these things. My frustration was with myself because I felt torn between holding my ground and wanting him to have fun with friends. If only he would stop asking so I don't have to feel frustrated!
And what about our tendency to squash someone else's happiness when we aren't part of the excitement? No one wants to admit to harboring this green-eyed monster. When you feel the pang of being separate, excluded or disconnected, can you recognize it as your own and not something the other inflicted upon you? What is your unspoken expectation that the other isn't meeting? Can you name your feeling and allow it rather than expect the other to suffer or change their experience to eliminate your misery?
Have you ever noticed how you feel about yourself after tormenting the person you blame for your anguish? Perhaps you scolded or discounted them — perfect for distraction and redirection. Whether it's a teenager testing limits or someone sharing an exciting experience, when we focus on absolving our discomfort we are robbing the other of their truth.
What are your values surrounding supporting others exclusive of your presence? And listening without judgment when asked for something you don't agree with or want to give? How would you like to be supported in your endeavors that differ from the important people in your life? What might happen if you set aside your agenda and actively listen to what the other wants to share? What if you asked the person in front of you "Please, tell me more about that." How would you feel if someone did that for you?
Learner and sharer of all things healthy, active, esteem building, growth promoting, witty and Hawaiian