Linda: Understanding how our brain works helps. To know what is going on in the body when we pause to reflect, can help us to override the initial reaction of flight or fight. Rather than operating from the lower brain at the base of the scull, we are utilizing our neo-cortex or higher brain, which is responsible for more complex and creative mental processes. Even a momentary pause to reflect can give us an edge to choose to speak and behave in a more skillful fashion.
Kristen had a strong attachment to comfort, security, and material things. When she married Randy, he was a computer whiz, and was making a great deal of money in his field. Rob’s real passion was his artwork, but he wasn’t sure how to provide a living with those talents. The day came when Rob told Kristen he had to leave the computer field, that his work had become life-less and boring for him. This unexpected, dramatic change could have been a divisive one for this couple since Kristen was frightened about their change in financial status, but she reluctantly supported his decision because it meant so much to him.
Kirsten reached out to for support to an older dear friend. Her friend helped her to see that she was making money a higher priority than the relationship with Randy. And she was also assuming that there would be a permanent diminishment of income. In the realization of the importance of putting the relationship in the number one spot above material comfort, Kristen recognized that she had been dishonoring her values. She realized that she was misguided.
Kristen’s friend, a long time meditator, recommended that she take several breaths whenever her overheated, panicky feelings flared up. The friend told her that during the pause, she was to remind herself that clearly this is not a life and death situation that her fearful thoughts were running away with her. Out of her conversations, Kristin realized that it was a time to become more responsible for her own feelings, to remind herself that her husband loves her, and that together, they will find a way to get through this transition. When Kristin’s experimented with pause and reflect she was assured her that her self-talk would cool her down.
When they did take a marked decline in their economic status, Kristen took her trusted friend’s advice. She made a commitment to put the relationship first and to practice working with her fear that threatened to damage their partnership. She made a pact with herself that she would pause and reflect on her own inner process before she acted out her fear to make judgmental remarks to Randy. Although her commitment was made with a sincere declaration, it was a process of falling down and getting up to begin again until she grew consistent in staying calm in the face of her fears.
For years after Randy left his department, his superiors tried to entice him back with contract work to develop short-term projects. Each time he was offered a package, Kristen would get her hopes up that he would take it, because the work was so lucrative. For him, it was a matter of integrity. He felt that he had compromised his values during the years he worked in the computer industry. He no longer wanted to compromise, but to stand by his commitment to further his art.
Kristen had ample opportunity to work with her attachment to material comfort. She would probe to see if Randy was open to working temporarily in his former field, but he always refused. Kristen could see how firmly positioned he was. She took responsibility for developing her own career to create more cash flow, to meet her desire for material well-being. Kristen turned her attachment into a preference. In time, the strong preference turned into a slight preference.
When I last spoke to her, she said she wouldn’t mind if Randy picked up some lucrative consulting, but now she was proud of his developing recognition in the art community, and the stand for his own integrity he had taken. She said that holding back her angry outbursts and managing her fear was one of the harder things that she has done in her life.
Kristin said, “ I feel that I have developed mastery in the area of self-discipline. I have learned so much by learning to keep my mouth shut. I’ve learned to bring an attitude of curiosity to other challenges besides our big career changes. Together, we have both become happier. Another big bonus I am enjoying is that I would not have been as motivated to develop my own career, if Randy had stayed in computers with that abundant cash flow, and for that I am grateful.” Kristen blushed when she said that she is quite accomplished now in her own field, and is proud that she has come so far.