Happy Holidays All – I took a break from writing to soak up the season’s blessings. I hope you have been enjoying the season as well.
Many of us struggle all year long with challenging relationships and the holidays seem only to further intensify our challenges. Today, I’d like to share with you a practical lesson I learned about the meaning of detachment and I hope it will help you too when you’re head starts spinning.
One of the hardest concepts I struggled with during meditation was this concept of letting your thoughts pass without reacting. I imagined it something like sitting on your front porch and watching the cars go by mindlessly. Except for me each time a “car” went by I had some emotional attachment to every vehicle. I just couldn’t get this idea down.
Sometimes life has a funny way of helping you figure out the answers to your questions. You could sit and try all you want to focus on it and just fail, fail, fail. Then, one day a situation totally unrelated to meditation (or whatever your working on) shows you how it all works.
Let me explain,
I recently found myself in a very difficult situation and what I’d typically do when encountering conflict is something I call REDI: React, Engage, Decide, Implement. I assumed that I had to take quick decisive action in all situations as if it were a crisis.
I’ve lived so much of my life in crisis that the moments in between were what felt unsettling. If you’ve experienced a major trauma or successive traumas in your life you’ll be familiar with what I am talking about.
What often happens is that over time more hurt than you can manage builds up and you can become hyper-vigilant (living in fear that danger/a threat is always right around the corner). Then, when any conflict shows up, you’re already suited up and ready for battle, both barrels loaded.
You don’t really think, you just react instinctively to protect yourself. Often you’ll push the conflict away so forcefully that you end up hurting yourself more in the process because you overdo it. Other times, you let yourself lash out at someone thinking that this time you will “win” your power back. You feel like you are rightfully defending your position. You are certain that you must engage EVERY time.
I began reflecting on my REDI approach to life and thought about how I wanted to move forward. Something felt like it wasn’t working anymore, so I finally stopped and pictured what I wanted my life look like. Then, I asked myself what I’d have to do to make that reality. A couple of hours later my mind was opened by a series of questions. As I answered them, something shifted in my way of thinking.
What if I just leaned into the pain and let it be itself instead of avoiding it? What if I accepted the person and the situation as is and didn’t take it personally? What if I already did all that I needed to do by removing myself from the situation? What if no further decision had to be made for the future of the relationship? What if I could just let it all be and go on with my life instead of rehashing it and hanging on?
So, I answered that barrage of questions by doing it. And you know what? I felt better. I had energy for other things and I think I’m going to change my acronym for conflict management to: LAG: Lean-in, Accept, Go on.
That “LAG” from Conflict to Implementation can provide just enough space to see that you are separate from the conflicts you encounter. That doesn’t mean you are not responsible for your actions. You just don’t have to identify so much with the pain and distress that you become it.
In fact, at any point using LAG can be helpful. You can use it from the very start of the conflict all the way through to the moment you walk away or anytime after.
Look at it this way, If it is taking that much energy to hang on to the pain…just let it go and let LAG.
Now I understand that you CAN sit down and meditate and let those memories pass by without reacting, when you finally untangle your Self from your experiences, You can lower the drama in your life almost immediately because you don’t judge yourself or others in the process of recalling memories. Suddenly, it is very clear that there is nothing to defend. You are not fighting for your life. You are ok. You are safe.
Have you had a situation which inspired you to see why your old ways of reacting weren’t serving you and how you could do better? Share you story here.
With love from aneternaltraveler 😉