Once upon a time with someone I cared for deeply, I ended up in a very triggering situation.
I excused myself from the situation and locked the door behind me.
"He abandoned me!" I thought.
In that moment I took a pause and breathed deeply, witnessing my panic.
As I pulled into a bird's eye view of my own experience, I noticed my heart pounding, my neck tense, my eyes darting to and fro across the small dark room I encapsulated myself in. I needed this moment.
When I felt recovered enough, I stepped out into the room where some of my favorite people seemed to waiver in their consistencies and what I deemed to be their virtues. They all looked at me and I looked judgmentally at them.
I sat down across from the person in the room that I was most preoccupied with, squinting my eyes, feeling my heart wall up, my collarbones edge forward, my brow furrow, my jaw flex. He looked at me sheepishly. What he did wasn't bad by most people's standards - not at all, really. But for me, what went down was a huge fear because for rational or irrational reasons, it triggered my abandonment wounds.
He didn't know how deep it ran - to be honest, neither did I. Until that moment, we both just thought I was extremely judgmental. In that moment, I wasn't ready to surrender. In that moment, I was still living from my fear.
Ironically, in that moment, I abandoned him. I shut off the valve of any intimacy. I resisted his attempt at connection. I withheld my love.
I perpetuated my biggest fear.
Knowing what I know now, I would've run this entire situation through Byron Katie's "The Work." A self-checking system that rocks my world every single time.
Here's how it would've gone.
1. I'd start with the statement I was convinced of in my head: "He abandoned me."
2. Then I'd ask myself: is it true?
3. If I got a yes, then I'd ask myself: is it really true?
4. Whether I got a yes or a no, I'd move onto the first perspective flipping statement where just to play out all scenarios and possibilities, I switch the subject and the object: "I abandoned him."
5. Now I ask myself for this statement: is it true?
6. If I got a yes, then I'd ask myself: is it really true?
7. Whether I got a yes or a no, I'd move onto the last perspective flipping statement where I make the subject and the object both about me: "I abandoned myself."
8. And I ask myself for this statement: is it true?
9. If I got a yes, then I'd ask myself: is it really true?
10. Reflect on all the angles - the holistic story of this situation. Give yourself the opportunity to see the softness, the innocence and the potential of collaboration.
This exercise doesn't mean we don't ask for what we need or get to set boundaries, it just checks us before we wreck ourselves or wallow in a one-sided story that isn't true. I often find that this exercise levels the playing field, takes me out of victimhood and into empowerment.
Try it and see what you find.
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