An unkind, emotional struggle with another is one of the surest ways for us to doubt our intrinsic value and question the intrinsic value of the other.
Daily life inevitably leads to conflictual encounters with others and their beliefs. You can either use these struggles as opportunities to grow, thereby standing in the foundation of your intrinsic value, or you can avoid growth, giving your inner critic freedom to wreak havoc on your intrinsic value and allowing your unhealthy ego to attack the intrinsic value of the other.
This goes to the very core of the Dare to Ask Journey; accessing your inner wisdom through the choices you make. While the struggle itself may not be a conscious choice, the choice to be unkind or not during or after a struggle is 100% in your control.
By consciously choosing kindness we can still keep the story, yet let go of the negative narrative and avoid long term suffering.
So now the daring question remains, if we find the courage to choose an attitude of kindness, is this enough to bring about love for self and our intrinsic value as well as the intrinsic value of the other?
During any unkind struggle, we either play the role of victim or attacker. In the moments of struggle we may even find ourselves playing both roles as we dance with the chaos and pain, throwing projections and reflections at each other.
Although we tend to have a preferred habitual role, life will invariably present us with a chance to play the role of attacker or victim, even if only once.
Knowing this, let’s examine why these painful encounters with another challenge our individual intrinsic value and cause us suffering regardless of the role we play.
Let’s examine these thoughts through an example.
Imagine a scenario where you are in a struggle with another. They lash out at you with a negative message, calling you a bitch or a bastard for being unkind. It would be quite natural to feel momentarily hurt by this. However, when we take our hurt out of the present moment and into the future, this is when we begin to suffer.
When we feel the pain of a negative message, we tend to either blame the other for our pain, or blame ourselves, bringing forth feelings of guilt and shame.
While this feels true, it is not the whole truth as the possibility always exists to move beyond this pain. Enclosed in blame, we hold onto the pain story and suffer. The suffering is caused at the level of our intrinsic value as we believe the negative story, judge the other or ourselves and therefore can’t let go of the pain.
Stuck with the negative story you remain attacker or victim, and through repeated projections of your blaming behavior, you will continue to doubt your intrinsic value and deny the intrinsic value of the other. By rejecting the existence of alternative choices, you are denying your power to choose kindness.
The aim is to separate ourselves from the blame so that we can release the suffering, feel the pain and own the story free from negativity.
So how do you allow the pain to pass through so you can let go of the negative story and stop suffering, without having to give up the story?
- First, you need to accept the unfortunate event and not deny or suppress it. It happened.
- Secondly, you need to acknowledge and feel the pain attached to the event.
- Once you get through the first two steps you can objectively examine their statement from two points of view. Is it true or false?
If the statement is true – then you accept that you were being a bitch and that you took on the role of attacker.
- Through daring self-questioning, you see that you were indeed unkind.
- Feeling bad for being unkind is perfectly normal. The next step is to own the story through your feelings and needs so that you can explore your choices to bring forth kindness without carrying the negative narrative of blame, guilt or shame into the future, thereby undermining your intrinsic value.
- Feelings: You felt hurt when you were called a bitch.
- Needs: Beneath any feeling of hurt, lies a genuine need. What need of yours was not being fulfilled by the other? Perhaps you wanted recognition or acknowledgment of some kind? Feeling unheard or denied you responded in an unkind way.
- You can now take full responsibility for reestablishing kindness by apologizing to the other for being unkind and expressing your needs and wants, for example, “I apologize for being unkind to you. When I hear you saying something negative to me, like calling me a bitch, I feel hurt. I need some recognition for my truth and at the same time I want to be considerate of your preferences.”
- This requires courage, vulnerability and compassion for yourself. You have taken full responsibility for your triggers and projection. With courage you can also communicate to the other that you would like to set a firm intention not to repeat this unkind behavior. This allows you to face your fears and access courage to change behaviors, thereby honoring your intrinsic value as well as the intrinsic value of the other.
- In this scenario, you move from roles of yourself as attacker and the other as a victim into roles of love, acceptance and being with each other.
If the statement is false – then you can genuinely say you have fully examined the situation and while you can see the story through the eyes of the other, you are not in denial and can comfortably say you were not unkind and were in the role of victim.
- Feeling upset for being unfairly attacked is perfectly normal. The next step is to own the story through the feelings and needs as expressed by the other person.
- Feelings: Are they feeling angry, hurt or upset?
- Needs: Is their frustration as a result of them needing you to be more considerate of their wants?
- You can now take full responsibility for reestablishing kindness, “I am truly sad that we got into a fight. I hear that you called me a bitch and I want to ask if you are feeling this way because you want me to apply more thought to what you might need? What do you want me to hear about your needs that you feel I have not yet heard?”
- You have taken full responsibility for being able to see how the other viewed you as being bitchy, even if it was a projection of their unkindness. With grace and permission, you can share with them that you feel that you were unkind and would appreciate their making space to try to understand your point of view. Whether they make themselves available for this discussion or not allows you to face your fears and access courage to change your behaviors, thereby honoring your intrinsic value as well as the intrinsic value of the other. If they make themselves available for this discussion you can set a firm boundary for why you would not like this to happen again.
- This requires courage, vulnerability and compassion for yourself and the other. In this scenario, you move away from seeing yourself in the victim role and the other as the attacker into roles of love, acceptance and being with each other.
In each situation, you can once again see that the choice of kindness is always available even after we have hurt ourselves, another or have been hurt by another. This choice to honor our intrinsic value opens our hearts to honor the intrinsic value of the other and allows space for the other to honor theirs.
Mark Nepo poses the following question, “How do I dress the wound in you that is me.”
Being unkind from time to time does not have to define who you are and take you back into the chaos of the inner critic (Step 2 of the Dare to Ask Journey). Each painful event in our life is a gift for us to grow and expand our narrative to include kindness, love and acceptance.When we can find a complete space of love for ourselves, we can start opening fully to love for all others, as you will see in my next blog when we explore “How to Open to Love for All.”
Exercise 16 – Practices to enhance your connection with your Body
Intended outcome of this exercise:
- To access your Spirit’s courage as you choose practices out of your comfort zone allowing you to explore and broaden your body’s felt senses.
- To use your body to bring forth your Spirit’s chosen intention of courage and curiosity.
- To remind yourself how amazing it is to have a body.
Over the next 2 weeks undertake the exercises below. Download your journal pages for exercise 16 here.
Your Body’s Gratitude Practice
During the remaining weeks of the Dare to Ask Journey take on a body gratitude practice 1 to 4 times a week, for no less than 10 minutes.
Be courageous and choose something completely out of your comfort zone, or preferably something that you have never done before, or seldom do that brings you joy.
These practices should be undertaken on your own. Leave your phone and all other digital devices at home, or turn them off while you are engaged in the experience. Focus on experiencing each moment with fresh curiosity as you focus on your body’s senses of touch, smell, sound and sight. Celebrate each simple beautiful moment and allow your body to feel joy.
Suggestions for this practice:
- Go into a garden, walk around slowly and touch the petal of flowers, the bark of trees, the leaves or the blades of grass. Take time to look deeply at a particular flower. Then close your eyes and imagine it. Listen deeply to the sounds of the garden. Breathe in the smells around you.
- Go out into the snow and touch it as it lands on your hand or stroke it gently to remove it from a surface that it is covering. Watch how it moves or changes in response to your touch. Access all your senses.
- Find your family pet and gently stroke it while taking special note of each part of its body. Access all your senses.
- Go outside and gently pick up a bug. Feel it moving in your hand before gently releasing it back into nature. Watch how it moves. Breathe with it.
- If you live in the inner city, walk down the street and engage through touch with any form of nature that you can access. Take time to listen deeply to the sounds around you. Focus in on a single sound that pleases you.
Your Body’s Active Practice
During the remaining weeks of the Dare to Ask Journey take on an active body practice 1 to 4 times a week, for no less than 20 minutes.
It is important that you choose your own practice. Be courageous and choose a physical activity that’s completely out of your comfort zone, preferably something you have never done before, or seldom do that nevertheless, thrills you (and also makes you feel a little fear).
These practices can be done with someone or on your own. Leave your phone and all other digital devices at home, or turn them off while you are engaged in the experience. Focus on experiencing each moment with fresh curiosity as you engage your body through exhilarating movement. Laugh out loud or shriek if you feel so inclined!
Suggestions for this practice:
- Do some cardio interval training to raise your heart rate.
- Go to a Zumba or a Hip Hop workout at a studio or gym.
- Do some strength training at the gym.
- Go to a theme park and ride the rollercoaster.
- Jump into a pool off a driving board that usually makes you feel a little scared.
- If you think you are tone deaf, take singing lessons.
- While taking your daily shower, turn the water onto cold and stand under it for 30 seconds.
Note: Please be sensible when choosing the activity to ensure that you choose something within the parameters of your physical health and fitness. Before undertaking any of these recommended practices for the first time, please be sure to seek instructions or supervision from a qualified professional.
While undertaking your gratitude and active practices take time to note:
- How your body feels (felt senses), Do you feel any resistance?
- What thoughts, feeling or emotions come to your mind during your practice. Do you notice any resistance?
- Are you present for the practice of do you wish you were elsewhere? If so, bring back your focus to fully absorbing your choice to participate in this practice in the present moment.
- How do you access courage to overcome your fear and engage in the practice?
- What does the accomplishment of facing your fear head-on make you feel?
Your key aim is to relax, have fun and think of nothing else other than the moment you are in:
- If you are tense in your body, breathe into the tension and relax.
- If you notice your mind wandering away from the activity to other pressing thoughts, practice coming back to the present moment of enjoyment and allow good feelings to arise as a result of the activity that you have chosen to be involved in.
Lastly, take the time to celebrate the body that you have, the felt senses that your body affords you and bring gratitude to the incredible fact that your body is home to your mind, soul and Spirit.
For those of you who are working with a friend or a group, this is a good time to catch up and share what you have learned about yourself. Click here for the link on how to go about this sharing with the group.
For those of you working on your own, this is a good time to share with yourself what you have learned about yourself, through external verbal expression. Click here for the link on how to go about this sharing with yourself.
If you have questions about honoring your Intrinsic Value, either submit your question in the comments section below or in a private note here (link). Share with all of us what you have learned about yourself or how you would like to expand and change your way of being. You can share through the same links above.
I love you all for your courage.
As always, warm love and regards