Welcome back to my Journey of the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. I would love to tell you that I've progressed leaps and bounds since my last post. In reality, I've just been hanging around with my friend "Mr. Responsibility" for the past several weeks.
In many interactions, I have continued to reflect on my status with "the line" and have held steady on my understanding of whether I'm falling above or below it. Something I've noticed recently, though, is there's a big difference in my ability to actually deal with the line depending on how much emotion each interaction is holding. What I can say is, it's all fine and dandy to move above the line when the emotions feel faint or neutral. But, trying to climb over the line when it feels like your face might explode into an eruption of pointed blame or messy tears is a whole different story, even if you spend a good amount of your time thinking about how to get up there.
I've had a few interactions recently where I was in the thick of it. In fact, there was a four-lane road of wet cement and I was stuck right in the middle of it. In each interaction I tried to pause for a moment and figure out just how to get out of this sticky situation. I started asking myself, "What are you feeling, what do you want to happen, how can you make this better, what does the other person want or feel, how did you contribute to this situation?" The questions and thoughts kept coming, and with each turn I just got rooted more firmly in the line.
What I wanted was to be sitting on top of the line, swinging in a hammock, drinking a "splash", and expressing my rational thoughts and emotions with ease...it sounded perfect, but I just couldn't get there. I thought this was "taking my responsibility." I mean, I was trying so hard and putting in so much effort and considering the issue from all angles, but I wasn't saying, "What would it look like if I took 100% responsibility." Not just some responsibility, but 100%.
What I realized later is that it was me who was making the problem complicated. By asking all of these questions and working so hard, I was getting caught up in the story of what's right and wrong, who's to blame, who's trying harder? I wasn't moving on to Step 2: I wasn't asking myself the most fundamental question, "Am I willing to shift?" I realized, for me, that I couldn't move past Step 1, without bringing along Step 2 as well.
In those moments, where I felt lost in the story, I wish I would have asked myself, "Are you willing to let go of all the discomfort you're holding on to?" And why, oh why, wouldn't I just say yes! My friend, the same friend that taught me about "owning your shit", recently told me how she thinks about these moments. She described it as doing a cost-benefit-analysis of holding on to the feeling of being right and that often the only item in the positive column is "Yeah, but I get to be right." On the surface that feels powerful, and the moment you let it go you feel completely exposed and vulnerable. Not the favorite feeling of most. I sure don't enjoy it. When you really think about it, though, is it better to "be right" and hold the weight of negativity on your shoulders or "shift" and just let go of control?
I've discovered, for me, it will always boil down to vulnerability, and I've decided I'd rather get there sooner than later. The fear of vulnerability cannot be worse than the hurt, pain, and damage I feel from holding onto being right. So how do I get there sooner rather than later?
Well, for now, this is my plan:
1. Recognize that I'm having emotions
For now I'm just recognizing feelings are happening, not pinpointing what they are (Don't worry Step 3: Feel the Feelings, I'm coming for you soon!)
2. Breathe (deep breaths in and out) until I feel a sense of calm
3. Ask myself, "Where's the line"?
4. Ask myself, "Are you willing to shift"?
a. If no, communicate I'm not able to have a fair conversation right now and disengage
b. If yes, communicate I'm having a hard time with my feelings, and I'd like to talk once I've had some time to sort them out
5. Let it go, until I have time to self-reflect and communicate without blame
Let me say, I don't know if this will work. I don't know if this is the "best" plan. I don't know if this seems prescriptive, too analytical, too much of something or not enough of something else. I do know that I won't ever know until I try something and, knowing that I'm taking my 100% responsibility feels pretty good.