The first series of blogs to appear on “Perceptions of Self: We Don’t See the World as It Is We See the World as We Are” are written based on the Five Step Formula for Staying on Track by Peter Branden while channeling Zarathustra, a lifelong friend and teacher of Den Nelson. Honesty is the first step.
Honesty, like truth, needs mindfulness about how we communicate as well as sensitivity toward others’ listening. Ideally, in a relationship we can make it safe for each other to give feedback – feedback that speaks to our feelings and experience, including the negative impact we have. Speaking to a behavior that impacts us negatively and treating it as a behavior instead of criticizing the person for a personality trait. There’s a way to show love for the being and respect for the being while disapproving of a behavior. It doesn’t affect the worth or value of the person, but it brings attention to the negative impact where there may not be awareness. Observing negative impact makes us grow.
Sometimes doing what feels right for us may have a negative impact on someone else. It’s a delicate situation. I think it’s best to speak to things before the charge is built up. I find that it’s much harder for others to hear me and for me to hear others when my charge is strong. It’s an ongoing moment to moment call. Do I need to speak to that? Everyone is doing the best they can and often people are unaware of their impact on others. But it’s often a misunderstanding and is rooted in not knowing someone’s history. It helps me act and not react.
What is a reaction and what is a response? How can I respond without reacting? It’s an ongoing process. The brain is hardwired to react, especially when it feels threatened. Fears come up that drive us through a series of reactions. I think moving from reaction to response requires awareness and maturity.
Recognizing reaction is important. It’s physical as much as emotional or mental. An example is that a friend comes over for dinner. She shows up late, which increases my reaction by the moment. It ends up that my friend was solving a problem in an apartment complex she was managing. But by the time she showed up I was in complete reaction mode. I had to sit alone and process the changes in my body – my heart rate and my breathing. My internal world was responding in a way disproportionate to the experience in current time. It could have been connecting to those childhood wounds – feeling ignored or not valued. But I had to put it in perspective.
When creating safe ways to communicate heal and grow relationships, the first step is to move beyond finding fault and placing blame. Who’s to blame? Who’s at fault? You can’t move past things and reach a solution when you’re stuck in that. There’s no room to hear each other when we are finding fault and placing blame.
That’s the major step to any resolution. It requires being bigger than the ego, bigger than the role we play. It’s making the relationship more important than the ego in the moment. We can imagine ourselves and attempt to feel ourselves as the space that everything shows up in. It’s incredibly valuable for taking in feedback and learning about our own negative impact.
We can’t live on earth without negative impact. One way to know that we’re growing is to track and alter our negative behavior. Be more considerate in order to change the negative impact and clean up the trail of mess. Our illusion that we can live on earth and not have negative impact is just that; it’s an illusion!