My life changed in one moment. Many lives change with traumatic or incredibly fortunate events and you may have many images of both come to mind. Mine was just over the phone, talking to a friend. But before I get to that, let’s back up to what happened that same morning.
I was letting things get in the way of my commitments with people, and even though I felt this, I was also somewhat numb to it. I justified my actions, until one day the mirror showed up. You know what I mean, how what your friends tell you is something about you that they see, and then you get it. They are your mirror, and if you have a friend like this, consider it a gift!
I left home to meet friends at a new church. On my way I thought I may be slightly late, or right on time. There was an urgency I felt to get there and do what I said I would: show up. As I dismounted my ride and walked to the front doors, the solidity of the latch told me it was locked. The notice on the door said as much “These doors will be locked when the service begins or when the seats are at capacity”, and there I was, exactly when the service starts. Sigh. I texted my friend that this is what happened and sat back down on my motorbike.
I was angry with myself. I admonished my unfocussed self and drove off with the feelings of anger. It was a palpable energy, as I was soon to find out.
I spent the next couple hours stewing about it, trying to quell the grey cloud encircling my head and heart. Then it was time for me to meet a friend. The experience had changed, as things often do in our life, from being just with her, to her and another. To me, in the frame of mind I was in, this new dynamic changed my behaviour. I saw it as changing the expectation of the two person group to a three person group, and it was taking it’s sweet time to work it’s way through my body as a reaction. You see, I was protective of my relationship with my friend, and I was looking forward to one-on-one time where we connect so well. The addition of another person got in my way, and it didn’t sit well with me.
By the end of our time together, this came up. I explained my desire for one-on-one and how the day changed from one expectation to something different, and that changed how I felt, and thus how I behaved around others. “You changed the day on me” I would say, justifying how I felt in a defensive manner. Oh how we defend our feelings when we are scared.
I have a tendency to show a different side of me to those that I don’t really know. I am unwavering, stolid, kurt, short, impassive, and generally have a “Do Not Disturb” sign hanging around my neck for all to see. I only show the real me to people I admire. That’s a learned behaviour from generally feeling insecure about who I am and what I have to offer others. It’s an old behaviour, so why is it creeping up on me and why didn’t I notice it?
What happened next changed my entire perspective, and when you can change that, you can change your life, because you are no longer looking at anything the same way as before.
I received some of the most valuable feedback from that friend of mine that I wanted to share time with. She explained to me in a compassionate, yet straightforward manner that when I had spent time visiting, I had shown up with an agitated energy. She didn’t like it when I had that kind of force around me. We talked about why I might be feeling that way, and it became clear that I had behaved rather like a child, trying to protect that which I felt I wanted all to myself: the connection alone with her. I had acted out of fear, with a scarcity mindset. What then might be the difference if I could simply act open around everyone I met? Might I have that same relationship with more people? Might I have it with everyone I open up to?
I was creating the scarcity mindset and conditions all by myself. I realized that if I had just showed up being my authentic self, I could have yet created one more fruitful, genuine relationship, instead of feeling like I had to share the one meaningful relationship that I cherished. This cut straight to the heart of the matter, and it was me that was the matter. I had created everything that fed my fearful mind. I was humbled not only by the words that were spoken, but by how accurate they were as well.
She ended off by validating the person she really likes seeing is the one that is open, and light, and that way with people, allowing my mind to shine with them too. Well, if there is a way to enhance a particular quality in a man, it’s to validate that positive quality you want to see. I guarantee you will see more of it the next day.
This feedback was so deep and soulful, and I agreed with it so much, that I couldn’t sleep. I ruminated and thought about it all night and I vowed to be open with as many people as I can. I vowed to write openly, and draw myself into to what I was writing so others can get to know and understand my point of view better.
This was one of the most impactful moments of feedback that I had experienced lately, and it was all because I had slipped back into an old behaviour, one that blocks connections, and sees things from a mindset where there are limits. I learned that many of the limits we routinely believe are self imposed and based on our perspective. What is one or your limits around others?
What a blessing it is to have friends who can, and are able, to genuinely share with me. Part of why they do that, as I am told, is because I value all feedback so incredibly much. I figure if you have what it takes to tell me how you feel around me, then I can treat it like the golden opportunity it is, and ponder it meaningfully.
It’s sly, our old comfortable self, the way it slips in and slithers into place. Without warning we can find ourself exhibiting old behaviours, reacting to external events, and exuding an energy that betrays the self we have tried to construct. We must be wary!
It’s so easy to lose our grip, to let our guard down, and betray our true nature, by wearing our old suit of fear, possessiveness, worry, and sadness. It takes consistent effort, daily focus, and attention to our conscious self to expose our inner being to the light of the world.
That’s how my life changed in a moment. I put that slippery self back in the closet to dry out, and I stepped once more into the light, and little more vulnerable, but a lot more real for my next encounter with…..well, maybe with you.