Recently a verbal interchange with a loved one left me feeling angry, betrayed and sad--and I froze in my tracks. We know that when we feel attacked, our response is fight, flight or freeze, and freezing has always been my personal favorite. I simply couldn't believe the person said those words, and went numb. I'm a master of the delayed reaction.
I could go into the countless examples of why this freezing strategy became a defense in my life, and perhaps you can ask yourself which your preferred strategy is when you feel attacked, and why.
When I woke up from my trance, the anger came in, and my first response then was realizing that I didn't want to make peace. This was, I think, a flight response, with a little fight underneath it. And, an old habit of trying to make myself superior.
As one who is trying practice heart-centered living and leading, these habits don't sit well with me. I keep wondering how long it's going to take for me to grow out of them. And like many of us, I need specific tools for responding a different way.
So, clearly, do we all on a collective level. Even though we know we all have a shadow side that would like to counter-attack, most of us are horrified by where that tendency has led us as a society. Wars, shootings and terrorism are the result of unleashing more force and violence and oppression into the hurting world.
In our quest to evolve, we spirited women have the opportunity to lead the way and model heart-centered ways of responding to difficult situations. If we are to be part of the tribe of western women the Dalai Lama predicted would save the world, then how do we respond differently?
As I began to meditate on this, the first "message" I got was a welling up of an enormous rage. It woke me up at 3 am and sent me to the tea kettle and the computer. I felt the rage of all women, the rage of my ancestors whose goddess power was oppressed. The rage of my sisters who were burned at the stake. The rage about those who today have been oppressed, raped and killed, all in the name of God. And, the rage of me being spoken to disrespectfully by someone I love.The rage rose to my solar plexus, and I saw something I'd never seen before.
I saw how my silence was a kind of disease that has enabled oppressors and kept me stuck in a victim stance. No more, I vowed. No more.
So, what would I do instead of counter-attacking? In the inevitable small or large unpleasant moments where someone is rude or insulting or aggressive to me, what might be the heart-centered response?
I meditated on this, and kept hearing the phrase, "Have a heart. Have a heart..."
Clearly, there's a sarcastic way that could be said to someone who is aggressive toward us, but I was pretty sure Spirit didn't mean it that way. Instead, it meant literally, "Go to your heart. Lead from your heart." Next I "saw" myself handing someone a paper heart, with the message, "Have a Heart" given in a way that could communicate that I don't like the behavior, but am not attacking the person.
When I shared all this with my dear friend Diane Turner, a kindred spirit and gifted coach, she was on board. "A way to take action!" was what we spirited women wanted. So we are creating a Have a Heart™campaign. Stay tuned for the details--we'll be giving other spirited women a chance to be involved.