has been one of the most common themes coming up in my work. Lately the folks reaching out to me for support have a general need to understand how to "not hold onto" someone else's issues. So, I thought it be fitting to write a little bit about a strategy I use everyday that helps me be present with clients (and people in general) without bringing on my "stuff". It also helps me manage the negative energies I know are not mine. In this day and age where we're seeing so many extreme differences in opinions and perspectives in mainstream media, it's no wonder this communication strategy has been coming up as a need.
I've learned to hold relationships with safety and healthy boundaries by practicing SELF MANAGEMENT.
What is self management?
It's basically a way to check yourself during dialog and recover from it. Whether it's assumptions, judgements, or wounded triggers that come up when we're talking to each other, managing how you're impacted can be significant step in shifting the energy towards healthier outcomes. It's difficult to practice, I know from experience! But when we're faced with a conflict that affects our deeply rooted moral values and beliefs, the easiest way out is to react in some defensive way. It's always okay to protect yourself! But the challenge I present to you is much like the challenge I present to you on healing hikes; get quite, invite the silence in and create a space of mindfulness for yourself and the other person.
Below are just some steps you can do to begin the practice if a conflicting conversation presents itself to you. Pause and remember to manage yourself, first!
Notice that you were triggered
- What was said or witnessed that caused you some harm or discomfort?
Notice HOW it triggered you INTERNALLY
- Did it cause you anger, judgement, or bring up a bad memory or association?
PAUSE AND PERMISSION
- Whether it's taking a deep breath or disengaging your attention to the other person to listen to your own internal conversation, taking a pause after you've recognized an internal trigger is a critical step in giving yourself permission to step into self management.
- Give yourself permission to be fully present and aware of the uncomfortable feelings. Although challenging, those uncomfortable feelings are important messages for you.
Follow your intuition more deeply and lead yourself to SAFETY
- If pausing leads you to stay silent, stay silent and deeply reflect on the moment later with yourself. Maybe ask yourself WHERE in your life story did that trigger/feeling come from?
- If pausing leads you to speak up or out, remember to replace JUDGEMENT with CURIOSITY. Ask questions in a more open ended way so you have more opportunity to listen, maybe even to create more space for you to pause. This leads to the last step...
Get used to listening more
- If you've come across this blog via my newsletter, you know that this month I wrote about a local comedian, W. Kamau Bell and his ability to self manage on his CNN Series, United Shades of America . I also mentioned that when he spoke during his book tour, he made it known that in order for him to "not go crazy" talking face-to-face with people that actively organize around some of the most extreme and divisive beliefs in this country, he knows he needs to (1) let them do all the talking and (2) just listen. He also mentions that he FIRST goes for a long walk to decompress. I had to mention that, of coarse!
So when we give people to opportunity to keep talking while you listen in silence, you're actually giving them space to show themselves more fully. And this can give you a world of information and insights as to where they're coming from and give you time to not do much work for them, but you're actually taking care of yourself in the process by self managing.