In my younger years my response to being around conflict was to make a conscious decision with myself to never get into trouble.
In my mind getting in trouble was the scariest thing that could happen and so I became conflict averse by consciously behaving in helpful ways where I could receive praise and validation, and be free from blame. The unconscious result of this was that I shut down emotional responses that weren’t acceptable or agreeable. I tucked away rage, hatred, jealousy, and shame as if they didn’t exist. I inevitably put myself on a little pedestal. Some aspects of this worked in not getting me into trouble, and some failed miserbaly. I didn’t realise that sometimes you will still experience blame, despite your best intentions.
On a recent 6 day silent meditation course (InnerSense with Dr Graham Mead for those interested), I literally sat with myself. I sat and meditated with pain. I had to stay in uncomfortable places. I couldn’t run away, and I couldn’t leave. And so I sat with awareness and began to observe the pain in my body instead. I started using my mind in a different way and chose to respond to the pain I was experiencing differently. Instead of succumbing to it, I experimented with staying a little bit longer and began to observe the sensations in my body in a curious, observatory manner.
On one of these days when I was in a long-ish meditation, fully immersed in the practice, something weird happened. My mid to upper vertebrae began to shift, and it came into a new alignment of it's own accord. My chest and the area in front of my heart opened outwards a few more degrees that I didn’t know I had. For the first time I could remember, I could sit up straight with no back pain. I was astonished. It's hard to find the words to explain the magnitude of what happened in that meditation. Post these meditations, I started to experience overwhelming new emotions that had previously been tucked away for a long time (rage, shame, disgust). Even though I didn’t want to, I stayed with these emotions and experienced them as sensations rather than something to run far away from. I started to see sides of myself in a new way, kind of like looking through one of those kaleidoscopes. It's been a liberating experience.
Since leaving the retreat I have noticed previously 'non-agreeable' traits appear. How bizarre to realise they have always been here; I just didn’t know how to access these strong emotions. The feelings have lost their bad labels and meanings, and are now an invitation for me to lean into them further, they represent an opportunity to become even more curious about automated responses. I weirdly look forward to sitting with them in meditation, as every time I do, I gain new insights which - even though some of these insights are subtle in the way they arrive - the effects of them popping into my awareness greatly contribute to the way I live my life daily.
It feels somewhat liberating to be off the pedestal and to be a fully feeling, flawed, whole, interesting, and normal human being who can cope with situations that come her way.
Bree Nicholls is the founder of The Being Way and the creator and trainer behind The Being Way Coach Training. Bree is creative, relatable, and dynamic in her work. She works 1:1 with coaches and business professionals, providing coaching and supervision to those who are working in the coaching, therapeutic and leadership fields. Bree's style is supportive as well as challenging and her process creates significant positive change for individuals, groups, and businesses.