Have you ever been caught in a disagreement with someone and felt so strongly that you were right and they were wrong?
If only you could just get them to see that they were wrong and you were right everything would be fine.
Lesson 1: Be Skeptical. But Learn to Listen.
I used to get so stuck in this mindset until something Miguel Ruiz wrote shook me out of it – “Be Skeptical. But Learn to Listen.”
It’s one of those teachings that are so painfully obvious yet so elusive at times when you are feeling defensive. Being rigid or defensive is like holding up a big “NO!” sign to the world. Nothing can get through.
In his book, The Fifth Agreement, he teaches that each of us has our own point of view that is based on our life experiences. That point of view is real, true and valid for each person. But it’s not THE truth. It’s not the objective truth of reality.
None of us have an objective view of reality.
When two people start talking, there are two distinct perspectives coming into contact. The important thing for both people to keep in mind is that what they are hearing is the opinion of one person. So listen with a degree of skepticism because we are all biased and prejudiced by our own life experiences.
But do listen closely because this person is letting you in on how they view the world. And if you can take a step back and appreciate the view of the other, it will open up a space for true understanding.
Before this teaching really sank in, I was not able to just listen to my partner and take in his experience. I would grow irritable, defensive, and argumentative because he did not see things as I did.
Now, I am enjoying the experience of simply listening to him. The feeling is, ‘Wow! O.k., so that’s how he sees things,’ rather than he’s wrong. And that element of wonder combined with my commitment to truly hear him has caused me to stop being so reactive and quick to argue.
It’s allowed me to just let him be himself without any push within me to change him or make him see things as I do, which helps to keep the conversation going until understanding has been reached.
Lesson 2: Be Flexible
This teaching has taken root within my psyche with another teaching by Deepak Chopra, author and spiritual teacher, about cultivating flexible awareness. When we meditate, we use specific words or sounds called mantras to help focus our thoughts but many times the mind will wander to something else.
Instead of getting tense and upset with yourself, he said, let this be part of your practice. Be flexible and accepting of yourself, understanding that your mind will wander at times. By gently bringing your awareness back to the mantra without judgment, you are practicing the same flexibility and acceptance that will help you in your daily life.
Generally, my mind goes 1,000 miles a minute on 3 different tracks simultaneously. I have often grown frustrated with myself for not being able to focus, or just be fully present. But now, I am practicing allowing and accepting how my mind operates. Rather than get tense about it I think, ‘What if this is just how my mind functions?’
When I allow that thought, two things happen: 1) I immediately relax and 2) My mind slows down, drops in, and focuses. I become more keenly aware of what I am doing. I become present.
This kind of flexibility has helped me recently as I launched my freelance writing business. It has been important for me to set intentions and then to be flexible with what comes, as Chopra teaches, trusting that when something does show up, I will know exactly what to do next.
Case in point, I found a prospect that I wanted to offer my services. But I quickly surmised that they were not in need of my skill set. So I switched gears and thought about who else I could reach out to. Another local business came to mind and when I approached that business owner, she was overwhelmingly grateful that I thought of her because she is in need of the exact help I was offering her.
By being flexible and trusting that I would know the appropriate next step to take, I found my first client.
When I stopped saying, “No” to life through my rigidity and defensiveness, I allowed for a big, “Yes” to open up and start taking up some room. There is flow and steady movement to things. I feel more peaceful, centered, calm and open.
Putting down the “NO” has been a game changer.
Has defensiveness or rigidity held you back somehow? Leave a comment below about how you worked through it.
© 2018 Tamara Jefferies