Recently, I had a difficult conversation with a friend. She was getting frustrated because in her mind, she believed she’d asked me for reassurance about some aspect of her life, and I wasn’t getting it.
From my perspective, I wasn’t sure what she was asking for. I noticed myself getting anxious and slipping into giving advice.
Oh, I know that’s not helpful and yes I can do it too – especially with those I care about.
In the course of our conversing, I said that when she became frustrated and expressed it by finding my abilities lacking, that I became anxious and afraid of her.
No surprise – that didn’t go over well.
I was triggered and I was in my saboteur, or survival, brain.
As was she.
There was only one way out:
We both knew the value of calming down, of coming into our Sage brain. That made the next move easy.
We took a short 2 minute breathing break. We felt our own breath coming in and out. An anchor. We felt our feet on the floor. A grounding.
That was the magic.
Candace Pert claimed that we release feel good chemicals simply by noticing our breathing.
As we calmed ourselves down and found our ways back to a more self-regulated place, I realized that by saying I was scared of her, I was blaming her for my feelings.
I can see how that is a very subtle, but very powerful, distinction.
When I say I am afraid of you, I am saying I have no control over my own perceptions or agency. It’s you that did this to me.
When I was in my sage brain however, I could see that being afraid of someone else is a long pattern for me. In my growing up years, I remembered being afraid of my mother’s anger. As a small child, I truly was afraid of her. She could become angry and use harsh words about me to express her anger.
This realization and connection to my friend and our dynamic was key. I could see now that by me saying my friend made me afraid, I was staying in my movie.
She could stay being what I saw in the world around me. Whenever I feel threatened, my automatic neuropathways have taken me to thinking that the other person is making me afraid.
Once I saw this, I declared something different.
I simply said I was scared.
I changed my expression from I am scared of you, to I am scared.
I realized when my friend felt frustrated and used words that seem to find fault with me, my response was to get scared.
Now, my friend could hear me.
I noticed how different this felt, even in my own body. It didn’t feel like I was bracing myself or numbing myself. I wasn’t trying to blame or criticize her.
I was sharing information about myself. I was honest and open and the chips may fall where they may.
To take full ownership for how I feel might seem a radical act to some. I am not saying to ignore dangers outside of ourselves and outside of our control. I am saying – experiment with taking full responsibility for the feelings you notice arising in your body, as bodily sensations.
That can give some space to consider differently what you might want to say or do.
When I was able to say I am scared, I was more present. With my approach of being in my sage brain, the energy shifted between us. My friend apologized. It was not her intention to have that impact on me.
I opened more as did she. We went somewhere else and both learned. I learned the freedom and power in owning my feelings. She learned that when she was clear in what she precisely wanted, she can have it.
That is true relating.
“The way our brain is wired, we only see what we believe is possible. We match patterns that already exist within ourselves through conditioning.” … Candace Pert
PS – If you’d like your own copy of the image at the top of this article, check out: https://responsibility.com/responsibility-process/