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Your life is like a movie but who are your main characters?
You are the leading role in the movie that your life is. However, for too many people, for too long of time, we live our life from the audience, watching it and not leading it.
Setting up the plot, the steak trigger
A friend of mine, John, is dating a woman who has a grown daughter. Whenever John spends time with both of them together, they usually get into a heated argument. Recently, John was invited to join them for a steak barbecue. While preparing dinner, John’s girlfriend mentioned that the steaks on the grill were from the new butcher shop that had just opened down the street.
Her daughter became enraged because she had given her mother a gift of frozen Omaha steaks several months prior and assumed she would be serving them for dinner. John said to me, “Mary, I just couldn’t believe that her response was so extreme and something like this could trigger an argument of this magnitude.” Has this ever happened to you before? 🙂
Taking the lead
As John and I explored his experience around this upset, I offered him something that works really well to get us out of the victim mode (this is happening to me) into the healing of curiosity (this is happening for me): that Life is a theatre* and that the people who disturb us the most are just character actors ‘hired’ by Life to bring up inside of us what is asking to be healed.
(*Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage/And all the men and women merely players…”)
3 Main Layers
The controlling mind
As I see it, we are all made up of three distinct layers: the top layer is the controlling mind that feels it is in charge of Life. It is very busy trying to manage Life, and in this management, it oftentimes spends its day liking and disliking. It also loves to try to fix everything and if that doesn’t work, it attacks, defends and judges. All of this busyness puts a veil between us and the living moment of Life.
The parts of the whole
The next layer is all the parts of ourselves that we stuffed inside of us long ago that the top layer is trying to keep contained. But that doesn’t make them go way. They run us from underneath our everyday mind (shame, not “enoughness,” fear, sadness, loneliness, despair, etc.).
Focus on the foundation
The bottom layer is the vast spaciousness and peace that we really are. We all have had moments when we opened into this spaciousness. When there is no problem in our mind like when we are first falling in love or have successfully completed a major project, we open beyond the struggling self and into the joy that is our natural self. But, as we all know, we don’t usually stay there, as the problem factory of our mind will very quickly come up with a new problem to fix.
Moving forward with the lead in mind
That night at the steak barbecue, John was watching the two top layers of these women in a power struggle. He said his mind got stirred up initially, but it didn’t last long as he was able to unhook from the drama and just watch the theater of the mind happening right in front of him. If he had stayed in his own top layer, he would have taken on the energy of struggle. John has done enough consciousness work, however, to know that what was needed was for him to become curious about what this experience was bringing up inside of him.
Rise and shine to your own soul every day
The more you awaken, the more you become fascinated with the upsetting or uncomfortable things going on inside your mind and body. You begin to understand when your body feels tight, there is something inside of you that needs your attention. When you turn your attention to your own experience in an uncomfortable situation, it becomes fascinating to watch your reactive top layer.
As you become more curious, it then becomes easier to see what has been activated from the second layer. For John, it was sadness that came. And, rather than getting caught in the second layer, John has learned to ask, “What is this bringing up inside of me?” And his answer was, “Oh, sadness is here” rather than “I am sad.” In that moment, he was relating to what he was experiencing rather than from it.
From moment to moment, scene to scene
Later in the evening after dinner, John asked the daughter a few questions about her job and again she became very angry. She told John it was none of his business and even called him “uppity.” This time John got caught. He was upset because he felt he had done something wrong. I shared with him how extremely powerful it is to be around someone who is judgmental like this because it brings up our own Judger, whether it is toward the person who is judging or toward ourselves. John immediately saw what an opportunity this was to heal his own Judger.
Do the best you can
When tightness shows up in your body and when your mind gets stirred up, it is an invitation to become curious. And it is important to do so without judgment. When you are able to bring awareness to what is going on inside of you, it is important to remember that your wounded parts in the second layer were created when you were a child. This is the reason it isn’t skillful to judge any part of yourself or others. We are all doing the best we know how with the conditioning we took on when we were young. It is skillful, however, to learn the skills and techniques to see your Judger more clearly and then you can make choices that will best serve you and others.
For example, John might decide that spending time with them together is not something he will choose to do in the future. Or he might decide to get together with the two of them for an hour here and there at a coffee shop so his reactions are not so overwhelming and he can be with them. Or he can continue on as he has been, recognizing that whenever the three of them are together, it is the time to be very curious about what is being brought up inside of him.
As you allow the invitation of curiosity into your life, you will realize that wholeness is learning how to weave every single part of yourself back into your heart. They are just parts of you that were created by your child-self and are asking to be seen so they can relax back into life. So, begin to be fascinated by the character actors on your stage of Life and see how Life, step by step, is bringing you back home to your natural self.