"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." -Viktor E. Frankl
Recently I was listening to a colleague speak about the challenges he faces working with HIGH strung executives. He described some as wanting it done RIGHT NOW and DONE RIGHT - while quickly reacting with anger and frustration when it isn't happening.
What I loved about his sharing is the simple, practical, and effective way he handles the situation that is filled with RESISTANCE.
What does he do?
He meets them where they are. He doesn't try to get them to not resist (yet!).
He doesn't try to talk them out of anything. Before even suggesting they take a breath or two, he sits with them in the stew. The stew they are in is called "resistance". They are resisting what life is showing them. Sound familiar?
Why meet them?
Meeting them where they are prevents further resistance! By acknowledging how they are feeling an opening is created to express. At the same time, a connection is being built between what is --- and what is wanted instead. How this space - or gap - is navigated, determines success or failure.
He then goes on to ask them how it feels in the body. He invites them to pause and take a few breaths with the feeling while asking the feeling what it needs.
Guess what? Almost always the feeling needs acceptance, compassion, acknowledgement, expression.
What or who is the feeling? It is us! It is us in our vulnerable and sometimes messy human-ness. Phew. Human after all! Oh how we resist being human and feeling all of it.
Once the feeling gets what it needs, energy is freed to come up with a creative response to the situation, to navigate the gap skillfully.
He's a yogi in disguise lol. What I find remarkable - and reassuring - is that he is using one of the foundational practices we learn in yoga, mindfulness training, and life.
It's the practice of non-resistance. We often learn it the "hard" way with huge amounts of unnecessary suffering.
What does non-resistance really mean?
In my experience it means accepting what is, even when we don't like it!!! This one practice is a life long teacher. Truth.
As he helps them gain awareness of their "being", or how they are feeling and showing up, he creates a portal for a deeper conversation. By this time the nervous system has settled a bit and there is space to explore what's next. They can ask questions like, is this way of being (in this case anger, impatience, judgment) serving me and the people around me. Likely not, on many levels.
This way of being is actually the opposite of growth and connection. We may get the job "done" yet at a cost.
How does this apply to us?
We don't have to be high strung executives to experience anger, frustration, impatience or other charged emotions. Whether we are running a nation, organization, community, home, family, --- ourselves --- we all encounter resistance.
Sometimes the resistance comes from outside of us and other times it comes from within. Sometimes we even resist the "good" stuff like love and intimate relationships. OY.
However resistance shows up, we can choose to navigate skillfully and along the way gain wisdom and freedom.
We got this! I support you.