Above: My partner in freedom.
There are some exciting things happening in the birth world, and my intention for this blog post was to share them with you. I read through the latest research summaries and made some notes, but I couldn’t stay focused. My mind was ruminating on an upset I couldn’t shake.
I’ve learned from coaching that there’s little point in sticking to a pre-determined agenda when something is bothering the client. Pain keeps the imagination tangled up and inspiration earth-bound. Free up the client and very often you find that the abandoned agenda takes care of itself.
Once I noticed how bothered I was, I took my own advice: put the birth-y blog aside and investigated the presenting pain.
I share my process with you today for two reasons. First, it’s a good process and you’re welcome to use it! Second, a painful thought that a lot of us suffer from is the belief that emotional health means that nothing bothers you – you’re “above it.” But I’ve come to see emotional health as not the absence of pain. It’s rather having a process to deal with it when it comes – an emotional immune system.
In that spirit, here’s what happened. I posted something to Facebook. Someone didn’t like it. They attacked it. I defended it. We got into an argument. It never got ugly, but 24 hours later the disagreement was still repeating on me like a bad meal.
When I notice I’m stuck, I do three things: go outside, move my body and do the Work. So I got on my bicycle and brought my painful thoughts with me.
The first, obvious thought was, “He should agree with me.”
No. That’s not it. What do I make it mean that he didn’t agree with me?
That he’s dogmatic.
Is that true? It feels true, because I’ve known this person since high school and he had the same opinions then as he does now. . . .
Oh. Wait a minute. So do I! Turn it around:
I am dogmatic. How is that true?
Well, I do have some fixed opinions. I say I am willing to hear the other side out, but there is this kernel in me that has never yet been cracked open. In fact, I spent much of my college years in Nebraska trying to crack it open myself and change into a conservative, Evangelical Christian. They seemed so sure of things, happy all the time and they fit in. But by my senior year I couldn’t keep it up any longer. I rejected it all in a spasm the semester I graduated and embraced what I now knew was my essential liberalism and mystical Christianity.
Maybe my Facebook friend has a similar kernel inside of him, but his is conservative. The truth is, I don’t know if my way is right, or if his is. I have a feeling that the negotiation between us will be more fruitful than either of us working alone.
That helps, but I am still not at peace. What else?
I notice I keep revisiting the part of his message where he said his opinion is based on science. I made that mean that he thinks I’m ignorant, naïve and a lightweight.
The only reason I leapt to that conclusion is that I believe – not my friend, but I believe – I’m ignorant, naïve and a lightweight. Not all the time, but when I’m unsure of myself, this is what Fear says to me to keep me in my corner, “safe.”
I realize now that this very fear had come up during a call I had the day before with a business coach. I have an idea that I think will be a great business, but it’s unlike anything I’ve done before. I’m not at all sure what I’m doing. It will involve hiring people to do things I don’t know how to do, and they might take advantage of me. It will involve partners and investors who might see me as an easy mark.
That’s why I’m so bothered. My Facebook friend walked into a tripwire my own psyche had set.
Do the Work. Is it true that I’m ignorant, naïve and a lightweight?
Can I be certain that’s who I am, all the time? No. My body relaxes. I smile.
How do I react when I believe it’s true that I am an ignorant, naïve person and a lightweight? Oh, it hurts. My forehead crumples in grief. My body freezes and my breath becomes shallow. I imagine myself surrounded by cartoon caricature businessmen, chomping on cigars and laughing at me through their monocles. They drown out my squeaky voice. I feel hopeless.
Who would I be without the thought that I am an ignorant, naïve person and a lightweight? Relaxed in the body. Standing at my full height, looking around with curiosity and interest. Who would be a good person to partner with? I trust myself to know. I see not the whole path but the next step in front of me. That’s all I need to do, take the next step. I smile. I can do that.
Turn the thought around.
I’m not ignorant, naïve and a lightweight. Oh, yes, there is plenty of evidence. (I’m continually amazed at how images line up according to what I’m believing in a given moment!) I recall moments I was educated, even wise, experienced and had gravitas, converting skeptics with the power of my conviction and winning people over with calm certainty.
Anyway, what’s so bad about being ignorant and naïve? Who ever completely understands what they’re getting into until they’re in it? Maybe ignorance and naivete are a protection, like an infant’s vision, which allows her at first to see clearly only what’s right in front of her and gradually gains depth as she matures.
As for lightweights, they are nimble. What’s so great about being heavy?
Now I notice the lightness in my body and looseness in my spirit that tells me I’m free. I recall what my Facebook friend said, to check for any remaining emotional charge, but there is none. My Work is done.
An added benefit of doing the Work is that nothing is wasted. That upset was not a useless distraction, but an opportunity for me to know myself, my friend, life more deeply.
Do you also find that going outside and moving your body helps you find peace? Have you ever done the Work? Do you have another process that helps you understand what bothers you and “love what is”? Please share your experience in the comments below!