Difficult conversations, even the ones that make us defensive and/or angry, can be some of our greatest learning moments. Here's what I learned from a recent mirror conversation.
Sooooo, I had an interesting conversation with a friend this afternoon. And I mean interesting from the perspective of thought provoking. As I waited for him to finish what he was saying I took a couple of deep breaths and I tried to ascertain what I was feeling as he spoke. Was I upset? No, that's not it. Was I defensive? Nope, not that either. Hurt? Uh uh.
Intrigued, fascinated, amused and quiet. As I took a minute to internalize that his opinion of me wasn’t throwing me for a loop, I took a breath.
So I am sure you are all dying to know what this conversation was about.
Wait...wait..wait for it...
Social Media! To be more specific...my social media (follow me on Insta here).
Now, before I dive into the specifics of the conversation I offer the contextualization that this person sometimes knows me better than I know myself. He knows all the parts - the good, the bad, the ugly, the brilliant, the funny, the insightful and the dark parts of me...so, yah, he knows me pretty well. And he very gently told me that he was concerned about me and that he thought the information that I was putting out, while good, might be a little - he flailed around at this point - disingenuous. (I have only had that word used to describe me twice and the first time I had to look it up after I stormed out of the room because, while I wasn’t sure what the word meant, I did know that I had been insulted. Yes, Hans, I am talking about you).
Now, the first time I was called disingenuous I knew it wasn’t true. I am many things, some of them quite annoying and some really spectacular, but I am not disingenuous.
But, this time I listened with interest. I listened hard. Why was he getting this feeling? Where was the disconnect? Was I being less than genuine? Was I spouting off all these “do this to be your best self“ perspectives but not living them myself (which I have to say is my number one pet peeve)?
The answer is...yes...and no. Which, given I am a human being, doesn’t surprise me.
As a passionate, and I mean PASSIONATE, advocate of service-based leadership, I have VERY strong opinions about leading with awareness, vision and service; about leading with intention and releasing your ego-based stories (in therapy circles known as victim stories). Had I not been doing that?
Here’s the deal: I have been leading with my vision some of the time. Let’s say 60 to 70 percent of the time. And the rest of the time? I have been struggling with my anxiety, depression and poor me mindset. Sometimes wrestling with it, sometimes pinning it and sometimes being pinned by it. The world as I had known it had been turned on its ear. As a business owner I have had moments of panic about my financial viability. As a curvy girl, the extra ten pounds of quarantine eating took me right to body loathing. The grocery store adventures with the overwhelmed people and empty shelves caused panic attacks as they took me back to my childhood of poverty and limited food supply. The multiple six-day migraine attacks ravaged my spirit and all of this is coupled with the fact that I am smack dab in the middle of the hormone war of my life as a 54-year-old woman. And the combination of one or all of these things created days where I was not focused on my vision and the multitude of blessings in my life, leaving me a person unable to get out and serve. And I have noticed that undulation in most people, not all, but most. The enormity of what has transpired cannot be understated. Systems that have been in place for longer than the majority of us have been alive, have been shaken. And that will have an impact on how we behave. It might even have an impact on who we are as we question and reevaluate our life philosophies, priorities and possibilities!
So what did I take away from my conversation with my mirror? A few key things:
I love people who are courageous enough and care about you enough to offer up perspectives that may or may not resonate with you. How incredible that my friend felt that he could and should hold up a mirror and have me check in. I am so loved that he was willing to risk his discomfort and mine to have a powerful conversation. I am lucky enough that I have about five people (and that’s a lot) in my life who are willing to show up for me in such a powerful way. I could have gotten angry, I could have turned that conversation around on all his shortcomings (not that this has ever happened before but I hear some people do that!😉) and he tiptoed in, for my good, for my health, for my evolution!
People’s perspectives of you, even good good friends, are NOT the truth. They are a perspective. The people offering these perspectives have their own filters and bias through which their perspectives are formed. If their viewpoint resonates with you and speaks to you, the perspective was likely meant for you. If not, let it drift on by. It was only a perspective and does not have the power to define you, unless you let it. You are in charge of you, before the gift of perspective was offered and after it was offered.
Duality exists. Can I be strong and weak at the same time? Yes. Can I be doing very well during this pandemic and not so well? Yes. Can I still be proud of myself in my imperfection? Yes! Hell, yes!
Mirror moments are powerful if we let them be. Am I spending time with my rituals that I know make my life powerful and purposeful? A little bit, but not enough. Have I let my poor me story take over a little more than I am comfortable with...Yah, a bit. So what do I want to do about that? Lean in to the things that I know work for me.
For me, that means morning connection to spirit and intention. Who do I want to be in the world today? And from that, all of my action will connect to what I want to create in the world instead of reacting to what is happening in the world.
Secondly, a morning and evening ritual of gratitude. Gratitude doesn’t mean I cannot be sad or upset about things, it just means I put the things I am sad and upset about in perspective.
I am so grateful that I have people in my life willing to check in, offer alternative perspectives and demonstrate they care by calling me to a renewed level of awareness. My self-awareness has been increased as a result of that ten minute conversation. I am allowing myself to have bad days and I am calling myself to evolve and to increase my conscious decision-making, because I know when I do...that is a good day.
As Queen Victoria said, "we will not have failure, only success and learning." How lucky am I to be reminded of that today?