There is so much pain being expressed in the world. All of the angry words, shouting and demonstrating against something or someone seems to have reached a crescendo.
What is going on? Why have we lost our minds and fallen into terrorist behavior that threatens, bullies and confronts? Look behind any of the #movements and you will discover strong emotions fueling the rocket of change.
A valid question to ask : is the rocket going anywhere? Or is it just an explosion in the cultural mindset that connects people with the same strong emotions?
It feels as if we are more separated, alone in our silos of conviction that we are right and everyone else is wrong.
The logical conclusion to this approach is continued divisiveness, separation and “otherness.” Everyone is a victim of something…and nothing is accomplished. Any changes only come after much angst and energy has been spent, creating a victory but extending the war against “the others.”
There is another way.
The Mindfulness Secret
When you feel yourself being triggered by something you read or heard, take a moment to check into your body. Notice if you are experiencing any of these physical reactions:
- elevated heartbeat;
- short, faster breaths; or
- heat spreading through your body;
Your body is communicating to you that it senses a threat. It could be mental or emotional, but your body has gone into the flight or fight response. Adrenaline is pouring through your veins, making you feel powerful and indestructible.
There is another effect of this survival reaction. Your ability to access the logical and reasoned part of your brain is momentarily disconnected. The oldest part of your brain takes over, the “lizard” brain. Choices made from the lizard brain do not create loving actions or acceptance of others. Instead, the only choices are to fight or flee.
In today’s world, the anger, chaos and destruction of meaningful conversations are fueled by the lizard brain.
Mindfulness enters the scene when you recognize that your flight or fight response has been triggered. Instead of giving your lizard brain the controls to the rocket, take a moment to understand what your body is telling you.
How? Step away from the trigger.
If you read something online that made your blood boil, look away and breathe deeply. If it is a person who caused your angst, pretend you just received a text message, look at your phone, and breathe deeply. The point is to momentarily distract yourself to allow time and space for your body’s response to recede.
The second step is to allow these emotions and your physical reaction to lessen BEFORE you share your thoughts, comments or reaction. Sharing words and actions from the lizard brain only adds fuel to the fire.
The third step is to notice the difference it makes when you chose a mindful response. Instead of confrontation, did you see the issue from a new perspective? How did you feel after you hit send? Better or worse?
After being mindful for a few times, notice the consequences to other people. Did your choice to respond and not react impact them? Is there a softening in your relationships that allows for more acceptance of a different viewpoint or opinion? Were you able to find common ground that you could both agree to?
The end result of reaction (from the lizard brain) versus response (from your logical, reasoned mind) are predictable.
- Lizard Reaction: You are stupid and wrong if you don’t agree with me.
- Result: Separation, unbending conviction, and damaged relationships
- Mindful Response: I see your point and I agree with parts of it.
- Result: Connection, creative solutions, peaceful conversations
The question to ask yourself is this:
“Do I want to be right or at peace?”
Living from your lizard brain is exhausting, debilitating and frustrating. It doesn’t build anyone up – instead, it tears down anyone who disagrees with you. Your lizard brain only wants to be right, and it will go to extremes to prove its rightness.
The cost is your sense of peace, your security in the world and your well-being.
Cultivate your mindful response muscle and you will be more thoughtful in your interactions. Open minded discussions can be shared, and you will learn something from the other person’s point of view.
It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!