Holding Tension, Letting Go of the Battle Cry, and our 3 Ways of Meeting Challenges

19 May

Last week I upgraded my computer. As I sit here writing this blog I’m loving the sensitivity of the keys, the backlit board, the clarity of the screen. I’m thankful to have the ability to purchase such a nice piece of technology. Being a student right now, I also have the ability to purchase the Windows suite with all the programs I need at a discount. Ever the bargain hunter, I was on it. Only, I hit a couple snags along the way, and I ended up talking to at least 6 people from tech support, Microsoft sales, and a few who sounded like they were in Bangladesh…or at least far enough away that I had to, and reluctantly, ask them to repeat almost every word they uttered to me.

After the 3rd day passed and there was no resolution to my issue, I could feel myself seething. I was angry. Pissed in fact. My first interaction with sales had gone well, I thought. I purchased the program with relative ease, made sure I wrote down every bit of information the associate spelled out to me, and all I needed to do was click on the link in my confirmation email and download the program. Much to my dismay, it didn’t quite happen that way.

Reach

Reach

Despite no pressing need to have the program immediately, the tension inside of me rose. Every time I thought I’d take another step toward figuring out the problem, I’d end up blocking the door of my co-worker’s office almost shouting what sounded to me like questions…cries for help…vitriol spewing from my mouth. But he couldn’t help me. He had no clue what I had done, the process I was in, who I’d spoken to and what they’d said, or what I needed in the way of information.  As I rattled on and on about the problem, again,  my voice getting louder and louder, I suddenly understood where my anger was coming from. I had, in that moment of explaining (yes, I’ll call it that), just realized what was festering inside me. The tension that was growing wasn’t tension I was holding with care or curiosity. No. I was adamantly pushing back against it, fighting it, and it was an epic battle. I stopped cold, my last words trailing off, and my friend looking at me like, “You’re finished…?”

“I got it,” I said. “I just figured out why I’m so pissed off.” I paused, taking in a deep breath, expanding my lungs like I had needed to expand my mind 3 days ago.

“I feel used. Manipulated.” I said. “When I called the first time I told the guy exactly what problem I was having, and he said that he could definitely help me. I hadn’t called initially to purchase the program. I called to get help with another issue. I believed we had covered the problem. The steps we took gave me assurance we had. Then he asked if I wanted to go ahead and buy it, and I followed through. When I hung up and followed the steps he instructed me to take, I was taken straight back to the part of the process I initially called about. I was back at square one. I feel manipulated,” I repeated and walked away.

Eventually I figured out what I needed to do, and I did it with a different approach. After thinking through the entire incident, looking at the alternatives, it was pretty clear that I Tensionwas jumping to conclusions about this guy’s motives. What reason would he have to pull the wool over my eyes? When I could hold the tension with an expanded view, rather than instantly tensing and retracting, hardening with defensiveness, I could approach the problem in a new way. I could get less worked up, take the issue less personally, and experience less stress. Like a rubberband, I was stretched so tight and rigid, I was about to break. Had I spoken to that sales guy I’d have….probably hung up before I’d allow myself to say anything unkind. But it was that intensity that was so uncomfortable, and more importantly, that I didn’t appreciate seeing from myself.

Can you grow through the cracksWe all tend to meet our challenges in 3 different ways: Absorb, Attack, or Approach

When we feel uncomfortable, anxious, or in that place where we just want to abandon ourselves because it just seems too hard we can:

1.)    Let the feeling absorb us and align with it

We may hear ourselves say “Forget it. I’m not going to fight it anymore. It’s just the way it is….or the way I am.”

We just sink into the self-beliefs we’ve been accustomed to experiencing, as well as the emotions.

Essentially, however, our level of awareness in this case goes to sleep then and we’re steeped in the negative.

2. ) We can fight, claw, and resist the experience

You might hear yourself say, “No! I can’t do this! Prepare for battle, self; you will overcome!”

Or in the case of when  you notice a negative self-perception and that voice that says, “What the heck is wrong with you– you’re doing it again!” and you follow it up with “NO! Figure this out!”

As a consequence of adopting this strategy, however, now you’re just in fighting mode, armor on and dukes up, glued to the battle.

(This was me, obviously).

3. ) Neutral Noticing and Observing

You don’t get lost in it and you don’t push back against it. You ride its waves.

In addiction literature they call this “urge surging.” Previous posts of mind have addressed how to watch your thoughts like they are clouds surfing across the sky of your mind. Same premise. In this case you might hear yourself say, “Wow, there it is again. Pretty incredible how often that thought — or emotion– comes up for me. I’m noticing that old familiar tightness in my chest.”

I wasn’t the only one who suffered through my inability to hold my tension with care and curiosity, and these circumstances created for me a necessary reminder of the need to transcend the stress response. Perhaps it happened on a day when responsibilities were piled high. Maybe it was a day I’d gotten a terrible night of sleep. Either way, I’ve forgiven myself. But I’m certainly thankful for being able to see how the events of my life can be opportunities for stretching and growth vs hardening, armor, and a battle cry!

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3 Responses to “Holding Tension, Letting Go of the Battle Cry, and our 3 Ways of Meeting Challenges”

  1. Kristin May 20, 2013 at 9:54 AM #

    In yoga there is lots of discussion of urge surging. I’d like to think I’m getting better at this. Even if it means throwing both my middle fingers up and screaming while I ride the waves.

    • kpropst May 20, 2013 at 10:37 AM #

      Did I say urge surging? I meant surfing! 😉 Quell the urge to surge. The purpose is to notice the urge rather than attach to it. Hold it with care. You could imagine yourself throwing your fingers up and screaming…at least that way you’re not hurting others in the process. Lol- you’re awesome, Kristin!

      • Kristin May 20, 2013 at 10:46 AM #

        SURFING yes hahaha. I went right along with it. Yes, urge surfing. Flipping the bird and all lol.

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