… and 3 places to check-in when we notice that happening in ourselves.
Maybe it’s the sheer number of situations that are crying out for our attention, inviting us to create different ways of being with ourselves, and each other.
When we look at how we be together in families, communities, in our education systems, our workplaces, political systems, or as countries, there’s no question that how we engage with ourselves and each other makes an enormous difference to how we experience life, and the environment that we all live in. And sometimes, even for those of us who’ve been on a personal growth journey for some time, it can feel overwhelming.
The truth is that in our world, this big blue marble that we all float through life on, there IS NO WAY OF OPTING OUT!
Graffiti in Florence, Italy – Photo credit
Nick Fewings on Unsplash.
Attempting that is like being the proverbial ostrich – burying our heads in the sand and hoping that if I don’t see it, it’ll go away. Or, being like the person in the bow of a rowboat watching another person furiously bailing water that’s pouring through a hole in the stern, and saying “I’m sure glad the hole’s not in my end of the boat!”
What happens in one part impacts us all. And with the speed and ease of travel and communication these days, that big blue marble seems not so big anymore!
We can hear, see and feel what’s happening in, with, and to each other almost instantly. And light is being shone on things that in the past could have remained either invisible to us, or hidden in the shadows, for much longer.
Change IS afoot. And especially when these changes run counter to everything we hold dear, or are far from what seem like the optimal options to us, despite our best intentions, there are times we find ourselves responding in ways that are not kind.
We roll our eyes, or lash out, we demean or vilify others, we close our hearts, and at times even cut ties. And while this is such an understandable human response, removing the presence of our kindness and wisdom in these situations has a significant impact on everyone involved – including ourselves.
In our attempts to protect ourselves from the pain we feel, a number of conditioned responses might surface here:
- when the injustice we see seems SO egregious, we may double down on our efforts or attacks – casting around, looking to find, or enroll others who agree with us
- if the flood of emotion washing through us feels overwhelming, it can be easy to either collapse into shaming ourselves, or blaming those whose actions trigger our pain
- and in reaction to any of these, we may try even harder to be ‘good’ or ‘nice’, wanting to make sure we make up for our unkindness.
The key here is noticing ANY of these responses, including our initial unkindness. They’re like signposts saying “Pay Attention Here!”
How might things be different if, as we notice what’s happening, we interpreted those signposts as invitations to be kind, first, right here in our own hearts and lives?
What else is possible here? – Photo credit
Jeremy Beck on Unsplash
In service to co-creating a world of our very best imagining, I believe Life is calling all of us to expand our capacity for what I call Practical Presence – being present, open and responsive to what only we can bring to that moment, And if we’re consciously or unconsciously ignoring our own pain, it’s going to be really hard to be practically present.
Though there are many ways to nurture this capacity, as I’ve practiced over the years with myself and those I partner with, in those moments when we’ve noticed we’ve ‘forgotten’ to be kind, there are 3 places we’ve found it valuable to check-in:
1. Am I taking good care of myself, or am I forgetting to be kind to me?
Am I nurturing myself in all the arenas of my life? Maybe my unkindness is asking me to pause and pay attention to my own body, mind and spiritual environments – am I investing in the care and nurturing of them? How is my physical environment (home, workspace) impacting me? Am I allowing for the nurturing of nature in my life? Are my finances or career calling for my attention? And what about my interpersonal environment – am I investing in relationships where my wellbeing is nurtured?
2. Is there something I’m avoiding feeling?
One of the most valuable things I learned many years ago was a very different way of holding what’s actually happening when we’re judgmental. And by judgmental, I don’t mean assessing what’s happening, I mean the kind of judgmentalness that has a charge associated with it. Maybe feeling a sense of superiority ‘how could they?!’, or in thinking ‘I’ve got the solution here, and they don’t!’ It doesn’t matter whether we’re being judgmental of others, of what’s happening in a situation, or even judging ourselves. Whenever we’re judgmental, what’s actually happening is that we’re attempting to create a separation – some distance – between ourselves and something we don’t want to feel (be present to).
With this understanding, rather than investing our energy in trying harder to be not be judgmental, we can actually use those moments to notice our natural human response of wanting to distance ourselves from painful feelings. Though not comfortable, having the courage to look at, explore, and discover what it is we’re not wanting to feel is a powerful path to the greater freedom, and expansion of Practical Presence embedded here.
3. Who/where can I check-in with for support in coming back home to my heart?
For all the focus on individuality in our western culture, the complexity of all that’s unfolding in our world means that none of us can manage this journey on our own. And certainly, the co-creation of a world of our best envisioning will require the contributions of us all. It’s crucial that we find support for those times when we are hurting, and the results are so worth it.
As Andrea Lee said in her powerful recent post and share of Cory Huff’s article, “We need all of us. Loving listening, even when we are outraged and grieving, is a big part of the answer. It is the road we need to get where we want to go.” Thanks Andrea, for this, and (from one of your comments to that post) for the inspiration of the title for this Musing!
If you’re looking for a way of creating (or perhaps deepening) connection with me and some of our Realizing RICH Relationships community, I hope you’ll consider joining us on Tuesday June 26, from 8-9 pm ET. It’s our usual 4th Tuesday of the month no cost, At Home with Maralyn & Friends call – the EVENING version.
Remember, you only need to register once for these calls, if you’ve not yet done so and would like to, click here.
Excellent writing, Maralyn! Much love and admiration for putting your voice out there!
Thanks, Deb – for your acknowledgement, and for the way you practice living this work. Love to you, Maralyn