Action – Reaction. 100 Years of Kinetic Art, Kunsthal Rotterdam, November 2018.
I can’t believe I just congratulated the woman next to me with her pregnancy. She’s not pregnant at all! She’s just wearing a dress that shows her curves and her belly.
There it was: the epic ‘Wonderful, you’re pregnant!’ ‘No, not that I’m aware of’- mistake. Weren’t only men supposed to make such faux pas?
Instantaneously, shame hijacked my entire system. Red face, sweaty palms, a weird frog in my throat. I stammering offered her my apologies. The woman, mother of three teenagers, accepted them graciously.
Shame is a fear state. Whenever it takes over our systems, we automatically lose touch with our hearts. We are no longer in connection with our bodies and thus with ourselves. We lose our presence.
Other triggering situations have a similar effect on us. I share the top seven pitfalls of thought patterns and behaviours that create an immediate disconnect from the heart. For each disconnect, I give you the action step that will bring you back to openheartedness.
This is what I call the big Facebook and other social media pitfall. Every day, you get an overdose of success stories, happy faces and travel pics of the most exotic countries. You can easily get trapped in the: ‘Help my life is not interesting enough. I didn’t get any further than the Belgian coast’ thought.
Action step: Stay focused on your own feelings of gratitude and love in the here and now. You have your own experiences. Feel into the joy they bring you. That’s what matters to you. Much more so than what anyone else is doing out there in the world.
‘I am so incredibly busy. I go from one meeting to another, barely having any time left for lunch.’ Are you patting yourself on the shoulder for your overfull schedule as it makes you feel needed and important?
Action step: Shift your thoughts. Your feeling of well-being and peace are a much better indicator of how you are doing than the fullness of your agenda.
‘That cannot be of any interest or value, it’s written by this 22 year old who has just left university!’ Or: ‘It’s obvious to me that she’s not a singer. Her voice hasn’t been formally trained. Everyone can hear that.’
Action step: Change your perspective. Open to your here and now experience of joy, beauty and new ideas. Allow yourself to be touched and recognize your feelings.
‘But I really want to know what it is that keeps me stuck in a rut! What happened? What did I do to create this mess?’
Action step: Acknowledge the fact that there’s a part of you that really wants to get a grip on the situation by figuring it all out. Allow for this want and all the feelings that are attached to it to come up and release. Shift the energy and reconnect to your heart by simply breathing.
Let’s look again at the situation I opened this article with: ‘I can’t believe that I just said that!’ Deep embarrassment about the blunder immediately awakened a whole bunch of critical voices within me: ‘You stupid idiot! How could you do that!’ And so forth and so on.
Action step: Say to yourself, ‘Yes, I do hear very clearly what my critical voices are saying here. It’s pretty ugly. Let’s now invite in my compassionate voice. What does she have to add to the conversation?’ Picture yourself with a good friend. What would she tell you in this very moment? Draw on your self-compassion to automatically bring you back.
6. Carried away by emotions
‘This is way more than I can handle. I want to get out of here. Fast!’ Strong emotions like fear, anger and sadness can take over your entire system in a blink of the eye. Before you know it, all of your openheartedness has evaporated and you find yourself in the fight, flight or freeze mode.
Action step: Take emotions for what they are – feelings in movement. They come and go and are part of being human. When they surface, let them simply run through you so they can pass by.
7. Old stories
‘My parents never gave me the space I needed as a kid and decided everything for me. That’s why I feel so insecure whenever I make a decision.’ Have you been running an old story in your mind that doesn’t serve you anymore? A story that only takes up headspace and negatively impacts your feeling of well-being?
Action step: overwrite the old story. Give your mind something more supportive to think about when it tends to go down that same alley again. Write down the limiting thought and come up with a reframe. A possible reframe of the above example is, ‘I confidently make my own decisions.’