Before reading this month’s Shift, I encourage you to first take a few breaths and welcome an open mind and heart. An open, non-judgmental mind helps us consider new ideas. An open heart helps us have compassion for ourselves and others.
I only write, teach, and encourage what I know to have been helpful for me. I hope that some part of my own journey can be helpful to you. We are all on our own journey full of great moments and struggles. I am no exception. It’s helpful for me to remember that the spiritual journey is indeed about the path, not the destination. The path is our day to day life; the happiness, the struggles, the mistakes, the joy, and everything in between.
Part of our path includes our interactions with others. Sometimes these interactions don’t turn out so well. Then we tend to get hooked into defensiveness, wanting the other person to change, blaming them, or shaming ourselves. When we get honest with ourselves, we realize that pointing fingers is missing the point.
This month, I’d like to encourage you to try something that has become a frequent practice of mine. I call it, “Own it, Conquer it.” It’s been one of the toughest, and most rewarding Mindfulness practices I’ve done. Here’s the short of it: look honestly at your part in relationships/interactions, including how you have hurt others, without judging your self. Learn the lesson and move forward accordingly.
The reality is, we’ve all hurt others. One of the hardest, though most rewarding, things we can do in our own growth is to look honestly at how we have hurt others. It’s easy to go into auto pilot mode and just want to focus on what the other person did wrong. I’m no stranger to this mindset. And ya know….it’s never really made anything better for me.
I’m not at all saying that we should be passive, let others hurt us without standing up for ourselves (in a way that is in line with our morals and values), or not look at the lessons regarding others hurting us. The things is, we have no control over others. So if we let our happiness and sense of peace depend on others changing or seeing how they’ve hurt us, we’re continuing our suffering.
The “Own It” part requires quite a bit of mindful non-judgmental attitude and compassion for yourself. Depending where you are on your journey, this may be quite tough. We have a tendency to want to beat ourselves up, shame ourselves, and tell the same old story of how we’re not good enough (or how others aren’t good enough). We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all hurt others. This is absolutely a part of our journey.
So, own it, or it will own you! Own your part in stressful interactions. Noticing internally what your mindset was, what your intention was, and externally what your reaction was (words, actions, choices). Perhaps think of how you would approach a child you care about, and talk to yourself in the same manner. Gentle, kind, loving.
Once you aware and own it, you have the power to change it. Remember, you can’t change anyone else! The only way to guarantee change is by changing you. (Again, I’m not saying become a push-over or always change for others benefit!) Look at the lesson and start applying it. This is about taking your peace and wellbeing into your own hands.
When we see how we hurt others, then we can stop. When we have hurt others we cover it up with rationalizing and other defensive mindsets because really we are feeling guilty (which is an appropriate reaction to doing something that is not in line with our morals and values). When you can see your part clearly, you then get the opportunity to practice a different way of reacting that is more in line with our morals and values, is kind, and is respectful to ourselves.
This can be tough work. It has been tough for me at times, no question. But t’s gotten easier and I have less of those self-defeating, critical, shaming fear thoughts that get in the way of doing the work of seeing the lesson clearly.
The more we practice this the more free we can be. When someone gives us critical feedback that isn’t so pleasant (which will happen), and the more we practice”Own it, Conquer it,” the more we’ll be able to tolerate the strong emotions, listen openly to feedback, look at our self and our part with compassion, see the lesson (not the opportunity to point the finger), and move about our lives living as passionately and on purpose as we can.
I do hope you take a chance on Mindfulness. Don’t take my word for it that Own It, Conquer it will bring you more peace. Try it yourself and discover your own journey.