In my last post, I was talking about consciously using connection as a strategy to counter negative feelings and change perspective, and I said that I would practise, ...
1, the awareness of my negative feelings and my inner desires not being met, and 2, taking the action of seeking connection as the antidote instead on focusing on the negative. In other words, I’ll try to find ways to fulfil the desires that aren’t being met. That is, I’ll not scratch, but seek connection through giving that which I wish to receive instead.
The truth is that the following day happened to be a pretty blissy day anyway and there wasn't much opportunity to test out the theory, at least as far as changing perspective went, because it was already pretty fabulous. Gotta love days like that. But then today I had the perfect opportunity to test out walking the talk - I was heading down to my mum's place for her birthday. Four kids in the car for a 1.5 hour drive, another 4 kids waiting for us at our destination, plus my mum and my sister.
Perspective. It's all about perspective. For some, that scenario may sound like heavenly perfection, for others, torture of the cruelest kind, and for most the reality is somewhere in between. The truth is that for me, my anticipatory thoughts about the trip were less than joyous. I woke with a hint of negativity and certainly deserved the stern, raised eyebrow look delivered by my wiser conscience. You know, the good side of yourself that asks what you really have to complain about and why you'd want to spend energy making something worse just by thinking negatively anyway? Well I have a side like that and I constantly roll my eyes at her because she's usually right. She also happens to be really good mates with my husband too - they're both so wise, it's so annoying. But anyway, I digress, she had a point and because she's such a goody-two-shoes, I remembered my challenge. Perfect timing, perfect opportunity.
Right, I thought, I'm going to do this. I'm really going to give this a shot today. And then, because I do like a plan, I naturally wondered what that actually meant and what I was actually going to do. So I had to be aware and then I had to seek connection. But today was about doing that, not thinking about it, not understanding it, I'd already done that. The beauty of action and the making real that which I think was my mission today.
The awareness piece came for me in the form of accepting that how this day was going to go was up to me. That simple thought is powerful. I can have a crap day, or I can have a great day. Either way, it's up to me. It's an empowering thought and one that's easy to understand, but putting it into action is where it steps everything up. And today, that action perspective lead me to think about the things I wanted to achieve before I left on my little road trip with clarity and well, positivity, as opposed to a list of obligations or chores. Small, but significant shift already.
The connection part seemed to come almost as a natural adjunct to, or outcome of a clearer, more purposeful, empowered and positive mind. I wanted to communicate with the kids about where we were going, what we had to do and how we were going to do it together. I listened to them and they listened to me and together we got a lot done in a couple of hours. It wasn't perfect, there was no singing like The Sound of Music or anything, and in fact I still had to have stern words with two of the kids more than once for absolutely not fairly contributing to the team mission. But it was positive, I was very present and we were connected. So far so good.
Next, the car trip was fine, no, it was more than fine, it was in fact enjoyable. Again, practising awareness seems incredibly relaxing because it somehow simplifies things. And when you're present and relaxed, there's so much less overall resistance, and therefore connection seems natural and effortless. I'm liking this a lot - awareness aiding connection, perhaps a critical element of connection. I love seeing how these all fit together ...
Anyway, so then we arrive at mum's and there's the chaos and noise of too many kids in a small space indoors, on a wet day, after a long drive, with cousins they adore etc etc, plus the normal weirdness of families. You know, the unique roles we assume with no one other than the families we grew up with, for no other reason than the fact that that psychological dynamic persists in our minds even though we haven't been 12 years old for about 28 years! And I'm thinking, just focus on being aware, that's all, just be aware and then connect, aware and connect, aware and connect.
Actually I don't find it all that easy to connect with my family (apart from my husband and my kids) straight away. It takes a little bit of time for me, but being focused on awareness today really helped. It helped because I was aware of the fact that it takes me a little bit and I chose for that to be ok. Again, simple, but significant. And then I focused on my connection with my kids. Because our morning and drive had been so great, I already had a great connection going on with them and I decided to use that to 'ground' me in a way while I found my connection with my mum and my sister.
I said before that practising awareness is relaxing because it simplifies things, and that being relaxed and aware enhances connection. Well it was astonishing to use the focus on awareness and the connection with my kids to quickly get thought the initial family weirdness. I could see that most of that weirdness, which I'm pretty sure exists in lots of families and which I'm also pretty sure lots of you know what I mean by, is caused by nothing more than habitual reactions to other people's habitual reactions. It's a cycle and the reason they exist like they do in families is because they've had years and years in which to cycle! It's probably also why alcohol is used, although that can cause habits and cycles of its own, to relax people and make them more genial. But the same can be achieved through simple awareness and connection. I know, I did it today! If only I could bottle it, not only would I make a blind fortune, but we'd have a lot more happy, healthier families. And although that's simplistic and maybe flippant, I really do believe there's some truth in it and I really do believe that it's a massive part of our lives and piece of the picture that can enable so much healing and health and thriving.
Look, I know it's not exactly earth shattering, but I do genuinely find it fascinating. The power of connection really can change your perspective and your outlook, both your immediate outlook and your outlook on life in general. There are many reasons why this is the case, many factors that play a role in why this is so, but today I paid attention to awareness and saw how being aware of my ability to choose my own outcomes seemed to naturally encourage a more relaxed, less resistive perspective. And that furthermore, feeling more relaxed and less resistant made me naturally able to connect more freely and more authentically with those around me, which further increased my feelings of being relaxed and content, and therefore continued to heighten my sense of connection.
That is fascinating. Well I think so anyway :-)