Our human responses to what “is” are so deeply engrained. When we like, agree with, and want more of it, it’s easy to turn towards and embrace it. But when what “is” isn’t to our liking – when it’s painful, challenges or scares us, or we find it in some way disagreable, our very natural, understandable human response is to contract and either turn away from and distance ourselves in some way.

It’s not hard to recognize these patterns. You’re likely aware of the familiar dance you find yourself in when the uncomfortable happens.

Maybe yours is zoning out or numbing out in some way. There are endless ways of distracting ourselves in an attempt to either pretend what’s happening isn’t, or to keep it (or us) at a distance in hopes that it’ll go away – it generally doesn’t!

Perhaps you’re more of a fighter – even if not literally, you my judge or blame. I know this has been one of my patterns, and I can do it in very subtle ways. That sense of being superior and judging others as less ___ than us. You can fill in the blank – less capable, smart, wise, organized, even less right! One of the challenges with this one is that it’s easy for that judging or blaming to get turned on ourselves. Those standards we set can be impossibly high.

When that’s the case, it’s not a big step (because we see so clearly what needs to happen – or not happen!) to overgiving or overdoing as a way of trying to fix things, or control things to avoid an outcome we don’t want. We end uptaking responsibility – feeling responsible for things that aren’t ours to control – and we ignore or lose touch with ourselves and what’s happening in us.

How many times have you (like I and many of those I partner with) woken up and found yourself exhausted and feeling dispirited, and either mad at yourself or others that you’re here?

In fact one of the ways those of us who know we fall into this pattern can find ourselves perpetuating it is by using the idea that we’ve been working at changing this for a while and we hear our inner voice chiding “I should know better and not find myself here, what’s wrong with me?!”

What if the familiar Nike saying “Just do it!” became associated with a fierce commitment to the practice of the “notice-accept-nurture” of attentional living? It would be a coming together of the masculine “Just do it!” and the feminine “notice-accept-nurture”.

And starting this with a focus on ourselves first … to do other would perpetuate the old patterns of focusing on and taking responsibility for others. We’d again be repeating the painful experience of leaving ourselves out of the picture, and leading ourselves back into exhaustion, resentment, feeling helpless and zoning/numbing out.

What if when we noticed ourselves judging ourselves (individually and/or collectively) we instead took a moment to attend to ourselves? What if rather than turning away or judging ourselves for judging, we simply named what was happening “It’s so painful for me that I/we’ve not yet accomplished the vision.” or “I’m scared of the way things are going.”? How might our lives be different if we accepted that this was what was happening – acknowledging what “is”, and with compassion allowing that we were again in judgment of ourselves? We’d then be in a perfect place to nurture ourselves; to take the time with ourselves to affirm how completely understandable it was that we were feeling whatever we were feeling, and only then move on to the most appropriate nurturing action we could take to encourage ourselves in that particular situation.

We didn’t create our old patterns overnight, and as we meet challenging situations, even when we’re clear about our intention to shift to new patterns, remember …

It’s not the idea that creates transformation. What creates change is the in-our-body practice of a different way of being. 

And as long as we’re alive and engaging this practice, greater skill and ease is always possible.

We’ve tried those familiar patterns long enough, and the stakes right now are higher than ever. What if we really decided we were done trying the insanity of living from our old patterns of trying harder, doing more, making it happen, planning better, and instead noticed what was happening inside of us – the disappointment, the fear, AND the fierce commitment to a different vision of what was possible for ourselves and in our world?

This shift to attentional living is simple to remember, and we have the rest of our lives to engage in the practice of it – again and again; both when we remember, AND, in those moments we recognize we’ve forgotten, or fallen back into old patterns. Whatever is happening, notice-accept-nurture gives us the best chance of coming back home to ourselves with respect and care. It’s the way of being to turn towards and embrace. And it’s the practice those of us in the Realizing RICH Relationships community are committed to enacting. If you’re curious and would like to hear more, please join us!

Nurturing juicy co-creative partnerships
…with ourselves, others & life!