“Who would you be without your story?” ~ Byron Katie
This weekend I super hugged a stranger. Not a small hug. A big hug. The kind you give a dear friend that you haven’t seen in forever and run to and squeeze. It happened by accident. But actually maybe not by accident because I learned so much from that one accidental hug.
Earlier that morning I had been having a riveting conversation with friends on Facebook. I asked them, “are long-term relationships dying?” It’s a question I’ve been pondering with myself after the fascinating dating escapades of the last almost two years. Amidst the dialogue around gender politics with the elections. And the enormous number of women I know who are awesome and single despite an interest in living in partnership with another.
This conversation lit me up. You know the kind that makes you tingle from head to toe? That makes you smile from ear to ear and want to fist bump the sky while screaming yes?! Yeah. That kinda conversation. It was fascinating, it was enlightening, and it was a conversation I had been shy to have.
I was on my way to lead teacher training and this conversation, the tunes creating a background beat to my steps on the sidewalk, and the sunshine on my face had me feeling jazzed about being up early on a Sunday morning.
There he was, the stranger. Walking by the yoga studio and all of a sudden I found us catching each other’s eyes, smiling widely, and then suddenly hugging. I stood there with my hand on his arm looking up, like a proud friend to see how great someone is doing and asked him what he was up to. “I’m going to work.” Enter in my mind. “Wait a minute...do you know him?” It asks. Then it starts to search the files of my brain and I ask him if he’s going to work at a sushi place I frequent thinking I must know him from there. As I recognize that we don’t know each other I start to see his face shift. I’m not sure who figured it out first. Maybe this whole time I was blind to the fact that he totally knew we didn’t know each other and was politely going along with my unexpected enthusiasm for running into him in the street. Then a flush across my face in embarrassment, sweat starts to bead on my forehead, and then we part. As I go up the stairs of the yoga studio I wonder what the hell just happened.
When we meet someone without our story, we meet the Truth.
The morning I spontaneously hugged a stranger I met the Truth. The Beauty inside every person beyond the perceptions of our mind. The Love underneath it all that connects us. The Connection that makes your heart burst. Many of us experience this feeling with a newly found friend, animals, babies, nature. They seem to be easier to not place a story onto. At least not immediately. Adults that we’ve known for some time however, that gets trickier.
“Why do you and I always butt heads?” It’s a text from one of my ex’s on the same day I hug a stranger and start one of the most fulfilling conversations with friends on social media. He and I had been pushing back and forth over the last 24 hours about...relationships, gender politics. Truth be told he and I butt heads on everything. We’ve been trying to build a friendship for months now and someone always ends up getting hurt, we take space, push the reset button and start again. Are we already at the point of taking space again after just trying to start again?
I sat looking at my phone in silence. “That’s it,” I thought. “We’re dancing in each other’s childhood wounding stories!”
Human psychology says that between the ages of 0-8 we experience moments of not having our needs met. It doesn’t matter if you had the best caretakers on Earth, or the worst. It happens. To everyone. These unhealed wounds stay underneath the surface and come out to dance when we get triggered. Sub conscious wounds woven into story project onto our present and cloud our ability to see Truth. To see the Beauty of that person. Because the stranger and I didn’t have any interaction before the hug and I was completely open, my defense system was down and story didn’t come in...until later. When judgement and shame creeped in the back door and created a story about how stupid this man must think I am...perhaps even mental.
Human connection is where our wounds meet the light.
If we take the invitation, human connection is the most potent catalyst for our healing and ultimate freedom.
If I’m willing to acknowledge that sub conscious story and deep wounds may be projecting onto my present when I find myself triggered, I stay open. If I’m willing to acknowledge that the same is true for my friend, partner, family member on the other side...I stay open. When I get curious about these stories, I stay open. And when I stay open, I can heal.
One of the biggest tugs of war for me with others is how self-reliant I am. This has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s meant that I’m able to power through pretty much anything and have the know-how to figure out things in difficult times. It also has meant that I don’t normally ask for help. Whether it’s been when I get sick, or needed financial help, or emotional support, my default has been to just carry on. When I really looked at this, this strength and weakness was born from the nature of my father’s work growing up. Because he traveled so much I learned how to keep things together. To be the pick yourself up by your own bootstraps girl that I always speak about. This created invaluable drive to achieve so much in addition to a way of being that rarely sought out help. When I feel like people are pushing into my space, I push back because it feels “safe” to be so self-reliant. This means that in partnerships I can strongly react when I feel like people are encroaching on my autonomy. Key word...feeling. It doesn’t mean this is actually happening, since it usually is not. However, because it feels so real, I know that projection of the past may be at play.
For this week’s Joy Tip Wednesday I want to invite you to stay open. Here’s how:
Acknowledge that you have childhood wounds that may not be healed if you find yourself triggered. (I don’t know anyone immune to this, so join the sea of the rest of us). This is where letting go of perfectionist ideas release and easing into messy beauty comes in.
When you find yourself triggered, pause, and stay open to the fact that your fear, frustration, pain, may not be entirely about the other person. Maybe you say something silently to yourself like “stay open” or “this may not be about (insert person’s) name.”
Name the wound “touching’ that might be happening on the other side. Just like your deepest wounds are being unintentionally touched by the other person, they too are likely experiencing the same thing.
Be curious and reflect. Maybe you journal to the following prompts, “What am I feeling?” “Why am I feeling this?” “What might this REALLY be about?”
If you’re feeling ready, spark a conversation. With the person you got triggered by, with a trusted friend, or family member. The day I got the “why do we butt heads” text I ended up having a thoughtful conversation with this person precisely about this...the nature of childhood wounds. Sharing how I see that some of my latest triggering moments were not solely about him and inviting him to be open to the idea that the same may be happening for him. It was probably one of the most honest conversations we’ve had and I feel like it brought us closer to the kind of friendship we are seeking to create.
In the end, all of this practice is simply about bringing the shadowy parts of our being out into the Light. When we bring those shadowy parts out into the open we zap things like shame and fear and we build trust and love for others, and most of all...for ourselves. So stay open and see what insights can be born.