Whenever I feel stuck, I eventually realize (sometimes faster than others) that a shift is needed. I have learnt that this requires active engagement in the tension – a stepping into of sorts – rather than just getting on with my life and hoping one day I will wake up transformed.
Let me try to describe my process of accessing the creativity and breakthrough potential inherent in every tension.
The first step of course is to acknowledge it. Usually it manifests as some sort of heaviness in my body, moodiness or irritability. Then there is typically a moment of pause, sometimes triggered by a breaking point, other times a deliberate choice to step out of the status quo. For me this often looks like a long walk in nature or even active engagement with those lucid moments just before falling asleep.
This helps switch off the mind and connect to a deeper part of myself. In our work we refer to it as the BEING. It’s a place of heightened awareness where we can more easily become the observer of our triggers and limiting beliefs, and therefore, step out of victim mode and become the choice maker.
In this moment it helps me to bring to mind what we refer to as the 8 BEING Attitudes or the 8 qualities of a transformational leader.
- Fierce Authenticity
- Live in a state of enquiry
- Harness the intuitive mind
- Relentless experimentation & play
- Alter my relationship to all adversities
- Help others shine
- Commit to a higher cause
- Synchronize individual and collective purpose
Then I simply run each one through my awareness and honestly ask myself how I am doing on that particular dimension. Inevitably two or three stand out as key levers for me to embrace more of in relation to the tension I am feeling.
Let me share a personal example that is unfolding as we speak. I will use this opportunity to work through a real life tension to illustrate how this process works for me and hopefully walk away with some new insights for myself as well.
I have been fortunate to spend the last 10 years working from home which has given me plenty of quality time with my two children Oscar and Audrey. In front of my eyes they are now transforming from child to adults. I couldn’t be prouder of who they are becoming. However, there is a part of me that struggles to let go of the parent / child relationship I have had with them until now. I still yearn to spend more time with them while they are off with their friends. I still catch myself “telling them what to do and what not to do” while they are laying the foundations of their own values and standards.
This is the nature of my tension at the moment and I am in the middle of processing it. I know it is important work for me to do right now because I am being triggered more than usual these days. In particular my energy gets affected when I see my son – what appears to me – withdrawn, upset and irritable from time to time. In these situations my reflex is to fix it. But of course being asked “what’s wrong” is the last thing he wants to engage in and therefore the tension only intensifies.
So here I am, feeling somewhat stuck but at the same time aware that a breakthrough lies ahead. Let’s see if any of the 8 BEING Attitudes can help shed some light and perhaps even shift my perspective.
- Fierce Authenticity: when I sense into this attitude I feel it might be too expressed at the moment . I am quick to “stand my ground” and share my frustration with some of his behaviour. What if this dimension was less expressed at the moment? Would it give each other a bit more space?
- Live in a state of enquiry: there is important work to do here. There is a lot I can do to remember what it’s like to be a teenager, to see the beauty of him finding his own voice, even if it conflicts with mine from time to time. Rather than ask him “what’s wrong” so I can fix it, how about opening my mind and heart to the emotional reality of being a teenager. I can immediately feel compassion and in that compassion take a step back to be more accepting and tolerant.
- Harness the intuitive mind: absolutely relevant. In fact this process of stepping back and becoming the observer of the tension is all about accessing and harnessing the intuitive mind
- Relentless experimentation & play: I feel the greatest breakthrough lies in expressing more of this attitude towards my son. I realize my responses have become quite predictable. When he is spending too much time on a video game then I will automatically tell him to shut it off. When he doesn’t help around the house then I have to remind him to do so. This is tiring for both of us and doesn’t create a lot of positive energy. Instead, what if I would respond in a more playful way, experimenting with different (perhaps unexpected) responses. For example the other day when he left the dinner table without helping to clean up I could tell he was testing me, perhaps even wanting me to get triggered. Because I had more awareness at the time I was able to sense into the dynamic and realize it was natural teenage behaviour. With this awareness I could remain calm and simply go about doing the chores without asking for any help. Some minutes later he stated the following: “if you need help, let me know”. Instead of welcoming his half hearted invitation I paused and from a very neutral place simply responded: “If I have to ask for help, then it’s not needed”. It wasn’t so much what I said but how I said it. Depending on my energy those same words could be perceived as confrontational and therefore recreate the same dynamic. But because they were coming from a really authentic / non triggered place it caught him by surprise and I could immediately sense that he went into self reflection mode. Clearly something has started to shift (for both of us). It’s like a game but instead of kicking the football around together we are playfully and positively pushing each other’s boundaries and opening the possibility for deeper self exploration.
I could go on in the same way with the other 4 BEING Attitudes as well but there are already so many rich insights to harvest. Hopefully this has given you a feel for the inner process that works for me and perhaps some of it can inspire you next time a trigger or tension comes your way.
You can find more info on the 8 BEING Attitudes and how they are the foundation of full expressing our FULL Human Potential here.