In every difficult situation is potential value. Believe this, then begin looking for it. Norman Vincent PealeI have this tape that runs in my head when ever I'm involved in something and things go awry. Yesterday, my tape fired and I found myself front and centre in self-defeating gamesmanship of the ugly kind. I wanted to quit. To cry. To pack up. To run away and hide.
My tape is: It's all my fault.
The particulars of the event are not important. The realization that I was playing a self-defeating game is what makes the difference.
I'm not a good blame game player. My mind tells me, somebody has to take the blame. Don't go blaming other people for what's gone wrong. It's obviously all your fault. You may as well just accept it. In my belief that 'it's all my fault', I shut-up, shut-down and shut out possibility.
Yesterday, my game kicked in for awhile and I found myself blaming me for all that had gone wrong. I am 100% accountable for everything I do. I am not accountable for what someone else does or doesn't do. But, in my self-defeating mode, there's a narcissistic tendency to believe, 'it's all my fault'. You know, I'm the centre of the universe. All powerful. All controlling. It's all about me. It's all my fault.
That's my victim mind. That little girl who once believed she was powerless. That bad things happen to good people because they deserve it. And who, when I'm afraid of 'getting caught' immediately retreats into fear and confusion and tears.
In identifying the voice of self-abasement, I stepped back from the brink of self-defeat as I was about to tumble over the precipice. Sure, I spent a few moments stewing about doomsday scenarios of how I have precipitated the end of the universe and all that jazz. But, in acknowledging my game, I quickly drew up into focusing on what's the value in this situation. What can we do to learn from what's happened? How can we create 'better' out of 'the worst' that's happened?
In any situation gone wrong, there is a process to creating value in the moment.
The process is:
Be aware. Get conscious of what's happening inside you. What's going on? Is there a roar in your head. Is your pulse quickening. Are you tightening up. Contracting your muscles. Tensing your shoulders.
Breathe. Let oxygen fill your mind and body with its life-saving grace. Let the breath give you a moment to collect your wits about you.
Open up. Consciously invite opening up into your being. Don't close down. Open up. Think of a flower unfurling its petals with the sun's warmth. Open up to the feelings, open up to a different perspective. Open up to the possibility of change.
Step back. No matter what's going on, take a moment to step back out of the fray and breathe again. Keep opening up.
Name your feelings. Acknowledge what's going on inside. I feel... afraid. Angry. Confused. Tearful. You don't have to say it out loud, but to yourself, name what you're feeling. If you can't think of 'the name' for that feeling, call it 'confused', or unhappy, or frightened. Give it a name. Make it up if you have to. Listen to what tape is repeating itself in your head. (Tapes are the subconscious messages we've carried throughout our lives -- they're formed in childhood when we unconsciously learned from our environment feelings of fear and shame and not being loved...) Greet the tape like an old friend, embrace it and smother it with love. Smile at yourself. You're just being you when you're afraid, or tired, or worried, or.....
Engage. Engage yourself in action. If you need to take a walk for a few moments, do it. If you need to go to the washroom to collect yourself. Do it. Disconnect from the drama and engage yourself in positive action that will help you re-balance yourself. Meditation. Listening to soothing music. Call your answering machine and leave the message you want to leave the other person and then play it back to yourself five or ten minutes later -- do you really want to leave that kind of footprint on someone else's heart? Do something positive. Be proactive. If you're in a meeting and the situation gets tense, ask for a coffee break. If that's not possible, ask a question to gain understanding -- not judgement. Listen to the response. Do not let your monkey mind jump about leaping to self-defensive back-talk. Don't take it personally. Keep BREATHING.
Communicate Clearly. Once your pulse has settled down, your thinking has calmed down and your attitude has stepped down from confrontation, communicate clearly using 'I' words. Do not blame, shame, accuse. Look for opportunities to expand the situation into learning. Be clear in what you are saying -- Turn up. Pay attention. Speak your truth and stay unattached to the outcome.
Yesterday, when I found myself engaging in negative self-talk and self-blame, I breathed and opened up, and focused the group on how we could learn from the situation. I still felt the fear inside, but I had named it -- and I am a fearless woman -- my fear is just the opportunity to be courageous. To be my best self yet.
Playing self-defeating games is only a habit. And habits can be replaced with positive action when I listen to the best of me and let go of engaging in tapes that would have me believe it's all my fault. That's just me being small minded. And I am capable of so much more. We all are!
The question is: Are you prepared to change your negative habits by opening up to the best you can be?