2018 was a year of unraveling for me. Facing some demons. Achieving some goals and for the first time in my life living intentionally. At the beginning of the year I had put some serious thought into what I wanted, what I needed and what it would take for me to achieve both of those things. I felt like a sprouted seed, pushing and fighting its way up through a whole lot of earth, hitting some rocks along the way, encountering some worms and finally at the end of the year seeing some beautiful light. Sometimes surprised by my strength. Sometimes needing to reinforce my weak bits.
And when I sat down this year and Unraveled My Year (see link here), the outcome of my reflection of 2018 highlighted these 2 important lessons I learnt:
- The acknowledgement of habitual processing and actioning
- Objective based communication
I’m going to unpack these a little here, but I am so happy to open any discussion further with anyone interested.
- THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF HABITUAL PROCESSING AND ACTIONING
For those of you who know me and know me well, you will know that I have a deep seated fear of lighting, as a result of a very traumatic event that occurred when I was 7 years old. My whole life I have lived with this bizarre fear and have found myself in really embarrassing situations, coiled up in fits of tears and fear, unable to communicate and wildly unapproachable. It came to a head when my ex and I were in Thailand and we were doing a kayak across the ocean. I have developed this sixth sense about lightning and storms and am able to predict its arrival by a dull ache I get in my temple. I had warned him that we would get caught in the middle of the ocean in a lightning storm, as our goal was too paddle really far. He elected to ignore my warnings and in his way persuaded me to do it anyway. We got caught. I went crazy. Huddled up like a petrified puppy. And there was nothing he could do. He had never seen me like that before. Super embarrassed and angry with him, we paddled back in silence to our hotel. And I swore to myself it had to change. 5 months later I signed up to a course of Trauma Release Exercises and literally shook myself out of my fear. It was a life changing course of treatment and one I am immensely greatful for.
Not long after my TRE course and months after my hard break up (which TRE also helped), I was in Johannesburg on a magical date, wanting to make an amazing impression on a rather remarkable man and I was worried, I had seen the forecast and I could feel the storm brewing. However, the lightning came, we lay outside, playing backgammon and drinking wine and for the first time in my life, I could enjoy the lightning coming down, the thunder rumbling above us and not recoil into a fetal position, heaving in tears. I was flawed. Completely flawed. And sending a million thank you’s to the TRE geniuses.
Fast forward 5 more months and I was in Russia, on a mountain, hiking the exceptional Caucasias mountains, high above the clouds. With no shelter anywhere around us. A massive storm rolled in and it felt like the gods were throwing lighting down to the earth around us. The thunder was deafening. And I was okay.
I felt something stir inside me. My heart was beating faster. But I was okay. And I started to mentally check in with myself.
Was I ok? Yes, I was feeling fine.
Was I really not feeling scared? No, I really was okay.
But you should be scared. Lightning scares you. You should be petrified. I’m ok.
And this thought was the turning point for me.
For how long had this habitual thought pattern dictated my life? How many times had I allowed the fear to take over and form into a habit, instead of really checking in with myself and instead of really figuring out if I was scared.
And as I stood on that mountain, the thought developed into something deeper. How many times in my life had I habitually allowed myself to feel something, knowing a picture of an ex and their new girlfriend is supposed to hurt me and therefore allowing that feeling in, causing the hurt I had anticipated. Knowing a certain word uttered by someone is supposed to disappoint me and allowing the feeling to go there, as anticipated.
And so, too, if one allows these habitual thought patterns to develop, surely the positive ones can develop too?
And so, I allowed myself to find “The Power in the Pause”. To stop, check in with myself and work out how something really made me feel. Was it a big deal? Was I feeling saddened by something said or done, or was I just habitually used to allowing myself to feel or think something?
Monitor it. Try it. Acknowledge the pause. Its Magical.
2. OBJECTIVE BASED COMMUNICATION
This is a hard one to explain, but it has made a MASSIVE impact on me. And it’s a very recent discovery.
I started to have a conversation with myself. I am someone who has always wanted to have big chats with people or send long very well written emails to discuss the elephant in the room or figure out how to make something better. However, it sometimes lacks planning, is emotionally charged and therefore does not have the results I have hoped for and sometimes leaves me with regret, sadness, frustration.
And it was in a recent situation, where I received a hurtful voice note from someone. I had my usual response to write a long, emotionally charged email unpacking the way the message had made me feel. And then I stopped myself. Nothing this person could say could take the hurt away that they had caused. Nothing I could say could get them to change their mind. What was the point of engaging in this space.
And so I asked myself some interesting questions:
What is the objective of me sending this message or engaging in this space?
Will I feel better or worse after sending the message?
What actually do I want them to respond and will any response negate the hurt that has already been caused?
If I am putting out so much emotional energy in my response, does the person on the other end warrant that energy output?
And so, I deleted my email. I sent a short, curt message that I would never normally send that required zero response from them. It meant I had zero need for any response from them and zero expectation means zero disappointment. And magically, after I sent my response, I felt lighter, I felt free. It was amazing.
And from then, I have adapted this filtering process in a lot of big and small situations I have encountered. I guess in some ways, it’s an act of letting things go. But that doesn’t always serve me, “the don’t sweat the small stuff” attitude, because I feel things deeply and so I need to process the objectives and consciously make a decision not to engage in order to feel like I have processed and owned the decision.
It has made me let things in, filter them in an “outcome based” way and test many different results before responding. Again, engaging with the pause.
I find it harder to write this than I do to speak these realisations, but I feel I needed to share them. And this blog has a reach that my voice can’t quite get to at the moment. And maybe, just maybe, someone will take something valuable from these realisations I have had.