Recently I had a group conflict situation at work which still brings up feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment and confusion when I remember what happened or see the people involved treating others in a way that I would like to have been treated.
I know the answer: feel my feelings in the moment and let a new response arise (I learned this from Day 8 in the Dialogues of A Course of Love). When I can do this my response to others is kind and I feel surprisingly good about myself. I know this is a result of no longer feeling separate from my Self because I have let go of judgement.
But then at other times I am aware of my negative opinions and I am tempted to criticise the people involved or even tell stories about them. In these moments I indulge the thinking that I was unfairly treated and not accepted for who I am.
I find it helpful in these times of negative grumblings to realise the cost of indulging these thoughts. The cost to myself and others.
The cost to myself : I lose connection to my true Self and reinforce a self that has learned that it needs to defend, look for justice or just run away. That self has learned it is not safe to stay with the ‘bad,’ ‘dangerous’, or unpredictable feelings that come up in the present moment. It prefers a calculated reaction, a formed opinion. That small self fears the same thing might happen again and so it wants to defend itself with mental constructs.
The cost to others: I push them away in many small often unconscious ways; I offer help less often; I am quiet, less interactive and find myself having lunch by myself. The cost to others is that I am not present to their feelings, to who they are behind their expressions of fear. Compassion has gone.
What do I want my expression to be?
I first need to choose acceptance of all my feelings at any moment. I don’t find it helpful to try and stop my mind chatter and shut down my grumblings. I know now that trying my best to make the situation better is not the solution. Instead I just accept all my feelings. And that is such a challenge when, like most of you, I have spent many years avoiding being present to what is happening now. When I am present, I feel free, powerful, and that confidence allows me to be truly compassionate.
You embrace sadness, grief, anger, and all else that you feel because these feelings are part of who you are in the present moment… To embrace is the opposite of to escape. To hold all within yourself in the embrace of love is the opposite of holding onto what you have already responded to with fear and made separate. Day 16 A Course of Love