AWARENESS OF SELF, OTHERS, AND SPIRIT
As we practice awareness of ourselves and others through spiritually aligned actions, especially when we are met with conflict, it is helpful to remember these four suggestions in arriving at a mutually beneficial and constructive resolution:
1. Do not react.
2. Listen without judgement of others, and practice non-judgement of ourselves.
3. BREATHE…Observe your feelings and emotions, allow them to pass through you and, if warranted, take a timeout.
4. Respond with respect, sincerely validate all feelings, and state a clear intention of a positive outcome that will be beneficial to both parties.
Recently, I created these four steps as a way to remind myself of how to practice implementing spiritually aligned actions, at a glance. My friend and colleague, and the author of the foreword to this book, David Rahman and I disagreed on his initial draft to be used.
In an email David sent me the draft, and as a teacher, I could see a few places that, in my opinion, needed to be edited for clarity of meaning. I edited the foreword, and sent it back for David’s approval. David sent it back immediately and said that he was not okay with some of the edits as he felt that it changed the meaning of what he was trying to convey.
Immediately, I felt old triggers sneak in. As a child and young adult, I was never heard and my feelings had to be kept quiet. Whenever I wanted to discuss or share my feelings, I was told to “get out of my sight or I’ll break your neck!” So, I was allowing my past traumatic experiences to bleed into this present situation, and David had not said or done anything remotely similar to my childhood experience that warranted the rush of feelings that surfaced! My heart began to race, my head got a tight feeling, and I felt hot all over. Without thinking or breathing, or allowing myself the space to understand David’s words, or to offer validation of what he was feeling, I sent the email right back to him and said, “Then maybe we shouldn’t use your foreword.” I was literally in a fight/flight mindset. I had hundreds of irrational thoughts swirling around in my mind that, looking back, had absolutely nothing to do with the present situation. So, having an old behavior mindset (we all falter, but it’s how quickly we recover that counts!) was my way of “being heard.” What happens with trauma is it leaves an emotional, behavioral and mental imprint. So, when something feels the same as that traumatic painful experience, it activates your thought patterns linked to the initial trauma. This makes you think, act, react and feel in the same way you did when it first happened even though it is a different experience. David emailed back and said, “Okay, we won’t use it.”
The moment that I read his words, it was as if Spirit embraced all of me and suggested I reach out to David coming from a humble, loving, and spiritually aligned action. I felt an immediate calm. I texted David and asked if we could have a conversation, and he said, “Of course!” David and I are close friends in addition to being colleagues, and I admire him in his own right as a man and as a business man who helps thousands around the world who are living with mental health challenges to “reset their mindset,” and I value his friendship. So, we were going to FaceTime in an hour (David lives in the U.K. and we FaceTime a few times a week). Before then, I wanted to write down, as a reminder, my spiritually aligned action(s) that would offer an outcome we could both be excited about, and that would act as a reminder to myself to remain present throughout our dialogue.
The four steps listed above came pouring onto the paper immediately. I knew Spirit was speaking through me as I wrote it down and placed it in front of me on my bed next to my laptop where I would soon FaceTime with David.
As I allowed David to explain why he was feeling that some of the edits were not edits he could live with, I could feel my anger/anxiety escalating and I could hear intrusive thoughts yelling at him, “You’re not right! I’m a teacher!” Trauma is hard to tame, but not impossible, and because I wrote down the steps I wanted to follow and had it within view, I kept saying to myself, “David has the right to feel how he is feeling, and I must validate his feelings as I would like my feelings to be validated. I listened to his words with an intermittent reminder to myself to come back to the present, and that this situation is the present and in no way linked to, or reflective of my past trauma.
We spoke and negotiated for about an hour, and the result is the eloquent and heartfelt foreword that we agreed upon.
When we are aware of our trauma and how it can pop up without warning, and we are willing to heal it, and we are connected to the Universe/God/Spirit, we can create magnificent and permanent change.