As we move through the holidays, many of us are finding ourselves facing the usual stress associated with this time of year. Whether it's financial stress, change of seasons, loss of light, time with our family of origin, or temptation to drink or eat in unhealthy ways, we often find our buttons being pushed. And now, with world events, the sheer number of button pushes can feel utterly overwhelming.
Yet, we are called to welcome our button pushers, for what would we do without them? Even though it may touch inner sore spots and bring up feelings of discomfort, getting our buttons pushed can play a key role in helping us with our internal healing work.
In the Q Process, we learn a very valuable skill – using that reactive triggering moment as a sacred mirror. It can be the gateway to deeper healing as it helps to unearth limiting beliefs hidden within us. Shadowy beliefs that we have taken on such as “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t matter” may have been the lens through which we have viewed our world for decades. These beliefs are often busily wreaking havoc in our lives while existing outside of our conscious awareness.
Awareness is the first step to healing but it is not the only step.
What do we do when the mirror is exposing something that we don’t like about ourselves? Unfortunately, it is all too easy to feel self-judgment and self-condemnation when the mirror is being held up. We often struggle with getting to a place of compassion for ourselves, and can shrug off or even skip this step in the process. And yet without it, we risk staying stuck in self-condemnation and missing the opportunity for integration.
Even though the reflection in the mirror may be showing us something we dislike, this is the moment to let our hearts widen with tenderness, forgiveness and compassion toward ourselves in order to move forward with our healing.
I had occasion to try this one night during a highly triggered moment for me that involved a politician on a news program. Whenever I think I have it all figured out, I just have to watch the news and see if there might perhaps be a tad more inner work to do. On this particular night, there was a little more than a tad. More like the mother lode.
As I felt my eyes narrowing in judgment and outrage from witnessing what I saw as selling out to corporate greed with no regard for the consequences, I paused. Uh oh. A worksheet moment.
This was big for me as I got still and with trepidation, began to ask myself questions. What is this mirroring for me? Where have I also “sold out” or lobbied to get my way at the expense of another in my life? Where have I let greed dictate my decisions and behaviors? When have I sold someone else out?
Take a breath.
A parade of possibilities marched across my mind. There was more – when have I sold myself down the river, given away my power, not spoken up to talk about my needs? The floodgates opened. There was certainly no shortage of examples for me to consider. I could feel the judgment I had been projecting earlier begin to turn inward and self-judgment was rising to take its place. Self-compassion was flying right out the window.
I reached for a pen and paper.
As I picked up the pen, the idea came to me that I should try to write with my non-dominant hand. The childlike printing that resulted sounded a plaintive cry for forgiveness that was impossible to deny. My eyes swelled with tears as I felt my heart burst open with tenderness and compassion.
The words now flowing from my right hand in reply were ones of deep love, acceptance and understanding. In that nurturing environment, I suddenly understood so clearly how all of the mistakes I had made were connected to a belief that I wasn’t good enough, and the misguided striving for love, happiness, peace and joy outside of myself. Meanwhile of course, all of those things already lived within me. As long as I continued looking outward, I was doomed to keep repeating those mistakes.
Self-compassion and self-forgiveness flowed throughout my being and my heart opened wider in gratitude. A sense of lightness and joy literally lifted me out of the chair and I expected the angel choir to start their chorus any second.
You get the idea.
Ian Lawton said, “Shine a light of awareness on every irritation, fear, fury and frustration and you will find something unresolved within.” When our buttons get pushed, it is an opportunity to bring forth self-compassion – the healing antidote to self-condemnation. It is all about freely giving ourselves compassion so that we can lavish it on others.
Amidst all of the internal love fest going on, I suddenly realized that not only did my heart open in compassion for myself as I considered all of the past mistakes I had made, but amazingly I felt the same deep compassion for the politician who only moments before had been the object of my scorn.
I still did not agree with his actions but I was able to see him as a fellow human, trying to find happiness and joy in his own life. And not finding it. Looking for love everywhere but the place it could be found – within. I understood and thought of the Buddhist prayer of compassion. “Just like me, this person is trying to be happy.”
This was such a transformative moment for me that I can’t wait to see what the mirror will be for me tomorrow!