With the amount of polarization and the pandemic going on these days, there is no shortage of opportunity to get reactive. And when you are caught in reactivity, the perceived threat (real or imagined) takes you out of your neocortex and into your reptilian brain, which has a rapid-fire response to perceived threats.
Yet, to fulfill your purpose and make the difference you are meant to make, you need to be fully resourced with all of you on board.
When we are thrown off center and triggered, one of my favorite questions is “Who am I taking myself to be right now?” Getting curious about our sense of identity in that moment is a powerful way to reconnect with our true nature, allowing us to know the most purposeful action to take.
All of us have a diverse cast of characters within us, each with their own identity and set of beliefs that lead to certain behaviors. And often some parts of our psyche disagree with other parts. For example, part of you may be excited about exploring something new, and another part of you wants to stay safe and eliminate any risk.
It’s not a problem to have these different points of view within you; it just seems to be the way that the psyche works. Rather, problems happen when you take on the identity of any one part as who you are in the moment, instead of seeing the whole collection of diverse perspectives within you.
When you take on the identity of a single part, your world closes in on you. You take on the narrow perspective of that single part and lose contact with your full resourcefulness.
When you are triggered, here are some steps you can take to get yourself back online:
- Get curious about what is triggering you, whether a person, a group, or a situation.
- Ask yourself “Who am I taking myself to be right now?” and write down what emerges.
- Look for “I am _____” statements that are present in your mind and causing your reaction such as “I am unworthy to ____” or “I am a victim of ____.” Write them down.
- Take a few deep breaths and tune into the sounds in your environment to expand your awareness, then look for counterbalancing perspectives from a bigger point of view.
- Reframe each “I am” statement with its counterbalancing perspective such as “I am not skilled in this area yet and am looking forward to learning how to improve” or “Part of me feels like a victim and the truth is that I am capable of impacting the outcome of this situation.” Write these new perspectives down in a place that will remind you when you forget.
As you dive into the truth of who you really are, you can uncover your full capacity to fulfill your purpose and increase your impact.
If it feels too challenging and charged to do this exploration on your own, enroll a friend or colleague as a practice partner, or work with a coach or therapist.
An attitude of playful curiosity often leads to the best result – have fun with this and let me know how it goes!