A wise guru once remarked, “I have not so much come to change the world as to be changed by it.”
Let us question whether we have come to try to change what is, the way things are at this moment, or respond to what is presently occuring in the most harmonious and growth producing way possible.
What is our role?
Difficult moments tempt us to become reactive, trying to change the things we don’t like, when what is needed is receptivity so that wisdom can guide us.
Reactivity or receptivity, which?
Signs of reactivity are: anger, grumpiness, resentment, defensiveness, sullenness, depression, withdrawal and fear.
But instead of simply reacting we can choose to discover the gifts that are wrapped up in each challenge, and thus respond wisely.
Difficulties have only come to strengthen and transform us. But when we simply react, try to change what is happening, we miss the treasures buried within them.
As Byron Katie has artfully said, “When I argue with reality, I lose, but only 100% of the time.”
How we meet a situation determines whether there will be more suffering or relief from suffering—more peace or more angst.
When we close down by falling into old reactive patterns we squeeze wisdom right out of the picture.
Thus it is more helpful to stay open and receptive by asking, “How am I seeing this? What are my feelings? What am I fearful of?”
We can choose how we respond, but only by becoming receptive to what seems to be happening, so that we have options that can heal, rather than reactivity which causes further damage.
How we meet each moment in our life, our ability to choose, is the only power that cannot be taken from us.
But we give our greatest power away by reacting.
Receptivity requires the cultivation of patience.
Patience is not a gift, bestowed on some, lacking in others. Rather it is a quality of heart and mind that is developed by becoming aware of our impatience, our reactivity, and then pausing, breathing and inquiring into what our thoughts and feelings are before we speak or act.
Patience allows us to consider and investigate situations from many angles rather than jumping in feet first with our opinions and conclusions.
Exceptions are physical danger which demand immediate action. But in our daily lives the danger is most usually psychological, arising from our unexamined perceptions and opinions.
When there is not physical danger we can stop ourselves right in the midst of a heated moment or discussion.
We don’t have to believe our thoughts. They are just thoughts.
Our perceptions are always faulty, as we have limited vision and cannot see what we cannot see. It takes patience to see more fully.
I find keeping my mouth shut when I feel triggered, and then asking questions and listening to answers rather than making assumptions saves me much anguish and regret.
I don’t have as many messes to clean up.
An occasion stands out in my memory when my college age daughter and I had a difference of opinion about something she was planning. Our conversation heated up as we fell into our habitual mother/daughter positions.
I wanted to protect her and she wanted independence.
But a warning signal fired in my head causing me to stop in mid-sentence. I asked for a postponement of the conversation so that I could reflect on what was really going on.
I went into my room, opened my journal and dialogued with her. I told her what I really wanted, and then in my imagination I “became her” allowing her to speak back to me.
At the conclusion of the back and forth dialogue I asked myself a most important question: “What is my greatest fear?”
I wrote out everything that came to mind, and then asked, “And what would be even worse than that?”
A journal is a perfect place to develop receptivity. Here we can explore our mind and heart without the risk of making the situation worse. Instead we can bring clarity into relationships.
Journals are private. They are safe, and it’s our job to keep them away from prying eyes. We can burn or shred what we have written.
Through dialoguing in my journal I became aware of my real motivation. I deeply loved my daughter and was afraid for her life. These were my bottom line reasons causing my reactivity.
And this is exactly what I shared with her when we resumed our conversation.
My openness and vulnerability invited hers and we had a heart to heart connection, resulting in her making a new choice, one that seemed right to both of us.
I believe it is only the mystery of love that can unite opposites.
Love is receptivity.
Two important questions to ask are:
What do I want to happen?
Where am I hurting?
Through investigation into these matters we discover our motive and can open to wise action.
Every action has consequences. We are free to choose our actions, but not the consequences. Karma does it for us.
It is very helpful to mentally walk down the streets of the various ways of responding, imagining what might be the outcome of each before deciding on a course of action.
Since the universe reciprocates, gives back to us as we have given, we might ask, “Do I want to be happy or right?”
And listen deeply, become receptive, to the answers.
Patient wisdom guides us into our next step, which leads to the next and the next. We can trust the universe to hold us in its arms, regardless of appearances.
We are genuinely cherished and loved.
Let’s open our hearts in receptivity.