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Wednesday, October 14 2009

Michele:  One thing I do to practice with intention, I learned from Jim.  I was watching him give a speech, which he loves doing, and he came to a point in the speech where he was at a loss for words.

I panicked, watching him.  

Then he paused and said the most beautiful sentence; as if he had worked on it for days.  It just popped out of him.  Afterwards I asked him . . .

Pixie:  Inspired.

Michele:  “Did you realize you had nothing to say?”

Jim said, “Of course, that always happens during a speech.

I said, “that would make me panic.”

“Oh no,” he said.  “That’s when I decide, ‘Oh now I’ve got to get myself out of this.  I have to come up with something REALLY great to say and I do.’”
 
That’s when it hit me - you can be smart on purpose!

Pixie:   I love that!  You said Jim and I give speeches the same way - we get up and talk.  For me it's a state of flow.

Michele:  Right. Yes, Jim experiences it that way as well.

Pixie:  If I have nothing to say, I don’t panic.  I trust and wait.  The next thing just comes to me and flows out of my mouth.

Michele:  Well, Jim decides NOW is the moment he’s going to say something great.  He makes himself smarter on purpose.   So I started practicing that.  I’d get defensive or stuck and pause.  I’d think, "Okay, NOW, GO SMART = LEVEL 10!"  And it worked!!!

Pixie:  That's so you.

Michele:  That was such a huge revelation!  I can decide to make my IQ go up in a moment!
 
Pixie:  I think we’re saying the same thing.  I practice trusting that I can tap into a Higher Intelligence and that it’s always available to me like Jung’s collective unconscious.  I think it’s a matter of faith that comes from disciplined practice with that intention.


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Tuesday, October 13 2009

Michele:  The theme of pausing keeps coming up; slowing things down.

Pixie:  Yes, it’s important.

Michele:  Pausing must be crucial to staying in the adult ego state.  Rushing must be associated with regression or neurosis.

I was just thinking when I play really good tennis players that they always look like they are going slower than me.  If I could slow down I would get better.

Pixie:  John says that Larry Bird saw the plays on the basketball court in slow motion.


Michele:  Yes, it's a paradox because you must be fast to play tennis, yet the better players look like they are going in slow motion between points.  Sometimes during the point.

Pixie:  I try to slow things down on the soccer field so I can stay calm and control the ball; not do anything dumb on purpose. :)
 
It's like the Bionic Woman.

Michele:  Right.

Pixie:  Slow motion means fast. 

Michele:  It gives off this calm vibe which is intimidating. They calmly beat me and I quickly lose.

Pixie:  While being supervised, I coached someone who talked 100 miles a minute; rattled off things.  She felt scattered and frantic.  Without knowing it, I slowed way down and picked one thing out of ten to repeat.  It was grounding for her.

At the end of the session, the supervisor commented on the subtlety of that coaching technique.  The student said that it threw her off for a moment which is what I wanted to do - just shift the rhythm a little so she had a chance to slow down and think clearly.

Michele:  I’ve noticed when you are in coaching mode that you go very slow which has a good effect on me; not slow with the ideas but slow like a hypnotist.

Pixie:  Let’s take an example from Bootcamp of how you were attacked and slowed things down.

Michele:  At Bootcamp I get attacked all the time, and there have been hundreds of Bootcamps, so I get a lot of practice.  Once I was at an engineering company and one of the senior people was grouchy about the whole Bootcamp thing.

There is a moment when we start each day and I ask if there are any questions.  He started on a rant about how “this is all pointless and wrong.”

Pixie:  What did you do?

Michele:  I paused when he was done.  I looked at him, smiled, and said, “Ok, will you just pretend this works for now, and at the end of the week if it doesn’t work, you can throw it all out?”

Pixie:  What was his response?

Michele:  It was something dramatic.  He must have relaxed or been surprised because I remember members of his team coming up to me and just being amazed that I made this person speechless.  I guess it was unusual.


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Monday, October 12 2009
Have you ever been verbally attacked and found yourself at a loss for words? Or have you become defensive and found yourself drawn into a verbal volley that left you drained emotionally and energetically?

Every verbal attack is an attempt to bring down your energy level, a projection, an invitation to an argument, or a defense to something you have said. You would be surprised how little it really has to do with you. Learning strategies to neutralize a verbal attack without harming yourself or your attacker empowers you in even the most difficult situations.

Coping Strategies

Although your feelings may escalate to red-alert, using the following strategies can avert a power driven argument that can harm a relationship for a day, a month and sometimes even longer:
  •   Okay.
  •   You may be right.
  •   Thank you for sharing that with me.
These short one sentence responses may appear to be giving in or agreeing with the aggressor, yet are they really? "Okay" is really only an acknowledgment that you received the message. "Thank you for sharing that with me" is also a verbal response that you heard what was said. You are not agreeing to anything, simply acknowledging that a message was delivered. Finally "you may be right" is also a neutral response with an unspoken "and you may be wrong." All three of these responses are neutral. You neither agree nor disagree. You are neither admitting guilt or innocence.

The Key
The key to using these strategies effectively is to say nothing more. An explanation is a defensive statement. An accusation is aggression. Any further discussion draws you deeper into conflict. This doesn't mean that you aren't going to feel defensive, hurt, angry, and afraid. It simply means that you will be coping with the attack rather than participating in conflict.

Personal Experience

Several years ago, I participated in a spiritual group that was attended by young and old, the experienced and novice. The group read a book together and then each person made a comment based on personal experience.

After the meeting, one of the older members of the group verbally attacked me and my comment. He called my name as I was walking to my car. After the first sarcastic, critical remark, I refused the invitation to fight and calmly said, "You may be right."

"Yes, I'm right," the attacker affirmed, slapping the book he held in one hand into the palm of the other. "It says here . . . " His companion stood beside him embarrassed and unsure about what to do.

My response to every verbal jab was either "you may be right" or "thanks for sharing that with me." Without my participation, it was hard to continue the argument. The energy of the attacker fizzled out within a few short minutes. The man did his best to look pleased with himself for making his point. I got in my car and left with my heart in my throat and my stomach in knots but I left knowing that in truth, I saved face by remaining neutral and the other person had only made himself look bad.

It wasn't until I learned and practiced strategies to defend against a verbal attack that I was able to choose to avoid conflict without running from it. Only then could I could learn to have compassion and curiosity for my attacker.

What opportunities can you see to use these simple strategies to remain neutral when you feel you're being verbally attacked?
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Friday, October 09 2009


Pixie:  Last night we talked about stepping into the attacker to see things from her perspective.  Do you think verbal attacks are different than being physically attacked?

Michele: Well, I can think of at least one type of physical attack that is different than I've ever experienced verbally or emotionally where I went into the flow state like you talked about.  I just pushed through something physical even though I felt like I was going to die.  I was playing flag football and thought these big college girls were going to kill me.  I just ran through them.

Pixie:  Sorry, I'm smiling at the visual.

Michele:  I’ve never had that level of experience under verbal attack. 

Pixie:  I experience that when I'm playing soccer.  Sometimes there's no thinking - just physical reflex, somatic memory. Primal.

Michele:  Right, that's what it was like. It scared me to find out that I was like that. I realized I could be a soldier.  I thought that would be impossible until that moment.

Pixie:  I think that happens when we're in a true state of crisis like an auto accident.  In experiences like that, we may not feel the fear until later.  Sometimes people tremble and get emotional with the drop in adenalin.

Michele:  I think I'm good in a crisis.  I have experienced that "in-a-crisis" feeling in verbal situations; just nothing close to that physical test.

Pixie:  The stress response is somewhat different physically.

Michele:  I think maybe it is the same, just much stronger and more primitive (as you point out) when one physically senses danger.  For me, in that one case, it was like some part of my brain engaged that I'd never used before.

Pixie:  Exactly.  Under verbal attack, my chest can get tight, my stomach goes into knots and yet, I may not go into auto-pilot for survival because so much of it is in my mind.

Michele:  I find that most people have a pretty low threshold for stress in verbal situations.  They go into a stress response with very little stimulation.

Pixie:  So how would you teach someone to step into the attack under verbal attack?
 
Michele:  I learned it by practicing; so that’s the best advice I have - practice.

Pixie:  We've both talked about “pausing” if we’re under verbal attack.  That’s important.

Michele:  Yes, I always wait a beat.  I think when I started practicing I used to pause for a few seconds.  Now, it’s usually just a beat because I have more practice.

Pixie:  I talk about pausing in a difficult conversation and asking for Higher Guidance to put spiritual space between you and the other person. 

Michele:  The idea of silence is a good one.  I like it.  It says, “I'm not going to fight with you.  I’m going to be smart.”

Pixie:  I actually used to put my ex-husband on hold for a moment before engaging.

Michele:  That's a great example. Under verbal attack, I pause and then choose from my menu of strategies.

 The strategies include:

  • be curious
  • ask the person for help
  • show vulnerability
  • interrupt (if you are in a position to interrupt)
  • check out gracefully from the situation
  • do a “Check In” (a  Check In is defined on our website)
Pixie:  So a process for learning to step into a verbal attack rather than avoiding it or fighting back is:
  • pause
  • pick a strategy from your menu
  • practice with intention
Michele:  Next we’ll expand the idea of pausing.

Photo by Takemusu Aikido on Flickr.com


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Thursday, October 08 2009
What fear lies beneath your fear?

In this post, we're addressing mental and emotional fear, not physical threat to our lives. 

When we are afraid, often we must go deeper within ourselves to discover our true fear.  This point was driven home in the story of a woman who was seeking help with an intense fear of flying.  When she sought help to overcome her fear, the counselor said, "First get clear on what you're afraid of.  You're not afraid of flying.  You're afraid of crashing!"

Often women that I coach about relationships are afraid of losing their current relationship, even if it's bad for them.  When we dig beneath the surface, the fear beneath the fear is that they are afraid no one will ever want them again; they'll be alone for the rest of their lives; and, even deeper is the fear that there is something fundamentally wrong with them and they are unlovable.

There are other fears like being afraid to speak in public, flying, fear of water, fear of intimacy . . . .  In the end I think that we all fear death - either physical death or the death of our ego; the death of core beliefs that we use to create the fabric of our lives.  Think about it, how often have you spent hours, days or months being afraid of an event that when it happened, wasn't all that bad?

Years ago my list of fears included that insane fear of being unlovable and it included bizarre things like driving my car in thunder & lightening driving across long bridges.  When I thoroughly investigated my fear and became more self-aware, those things were not my true fear.  Beneath that fear was a fear of dying.  Even deeper was a fear of going to hell because I thought I had been so bad. 

Gradually by asking that my fear be removed and taking actions contrary to the way I felt, the fear left me. 

One day I was driving home from work in rush hour traffic during a torrential downpour.  Traffic was moving slow.  Visibility was limited.  The sound of the rain was deafening.  Driving under a freeway overpass there was a momentary hush as if someone had switched off the rain for a moment.  The moment was surreal.  I smiled.  Driving into the pounding rain again, I realized that I wasn't afraid.  The fear of driving through a storm had left me. 

You would think that when a feeling of fear that intense leaves it would make a loud popping sound or something!  Instead it left quietly.  It was gone before I knew it. 

How then do we get over fear? 
  • Identify what your afraid of.
  • Find the deeper fear within you.
  • Ask that it be removed.
  • Be willing to let it go.
What would you do today if you weren't afraid?
 
Tuesday, October 06 2009
Reader's Topic

Will you blog about being curious about and stepping in to what we're afraid of and how that's better than trying to avoid it? I've been working on an Aikido move called irimi which is literally "stepping into" an attack, and then seeing things from the attacker's perspective. I'd like to hear your thoughts!


Stepping into Fear

Michele and I discussed this briefly last night because it's such an interesting concept. Through her work with the Core Protocols and in Bootcamps, Michele has devised a number of strategies to step into an attack during a Bootcamp.  As we were discussing the issue of fear, we talked about the difference between fear generated by a verbal attack and fear related to physical safety.  First we will discuss fear related to our physical safety.

Our physical bodies are designed with a wonderful survival mechanism known as the sympathetic nervous system.  When we feel threatened the sympathetic nervous system kicks into action without our voluntary thought.  Our eyes dilate to allow in more light.  Our airways dilate to allow more oxygen to flow.  Our heart rate increases.  Physical systems that we don't need like our digestive system shut down to allow blood & oxygen to flow to our muscles.  Adrenaline floods our system.  Our physiology becomes poised and ready to either fight or take flight.

In this case your body, mind, and spirit must be in sync to "step into the attack."  Logically your mind says, "I've read the manual, listened to the instructor, and practiced the moves."  Then when the time comes, still you hesitate.  You feel fear.  The mind says, "Step into the attack" and your body says, "Are you crazy?!  We're going to get hurt!"  Your body balks even though your mind says "go!"
 
In the case of physical fear it's a leap from fear to curiosity.  It is through the discipline of mind and spirit through training and practice that an athlete or a warrior overcomes fear.  For the athlete it means victory.  For the warrior, it can mean the difference between life and death.  During the battle there is no thought or feeling there is only a state similar to the state of "flow."

Avoiding That Which We Fear

Energetically/spiritually there is no avoiding that which we fear.  The more we fear something, the more we bring it right to our doorstep to teach us whatever lessons in courage, and faith that we need to learn.  It is only through faith that we have courage in the face of fear.  If we didn't have fear, we would need no courage, no faith.  Can you acknowledge and embrace the ultimate utility of fear?

Strategies

Here are some strategies to help you step into the attack:

  • Ask that the fear be removed.
  • Breathe & center, quieting the mind.
  • Practice & train.  Practice & train.
  • Reframe your belief.  In Aikido (from what I understand) you will be stepping into the attack to not only see things from the attackers perspective and defend yourself but to also protect the attacker from harm.
Personal Experience

My personal experience with a disconnect between my mind and body has been with the recent ACL reconstruction on my left knee.  After weeks of physical therapy, I can do many normal things easily like walking and stairs. I trust that I can walk.  The disconnect comes when my body feels so good that it says, "Let's run across the parking lot."  My head says, "Let's not."  Or when my head says, "Let's run down the hallway," and my body says, "Not yet."  Rather than criticizing myself, I remind myself that is the purpose of physical therapy.

For the most part, I have been avoiding situations that will hurt my knee.  My fear came to my doorstep the other day when I was outside weeding the garden.  I stepped onto a large flat rock and slipped.  My head said, "Your knee is going to give out!  You're crashing!"  My knee held steady; it said, "No, trust me. I'm fine."

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/takemusuaikido/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0" target="_blank">" target="_blank">Takemusu on Flickr.com.

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