Make Your Process Transparent
At some point I came up with the phrase “Make your process transparent” to describe bringing into the open in the moment anything going on internally that's confusing you or somehow throwing you off. Let me offer the simplest example — example lite — to clearly present the concept, then I'll show a more heavy-duty application.
You're out and about and randomly meet up with a woman you know — she has such a great face, such a warm smile, such good ideas (you were on that board together, or in that class, or at that rally) — and right this second you couldn't recall her name to save your life. It's an embarrassment because you know her name, as well as she knows yours, which (ahem) just rolled off her tongue in greeting you.
So if you want, you can stand there pretending it was normal to say, Hi, you, and feel weird about it, and vaguely guilty and wrong, and you can wring those internal hands and exert yourself to extract that name from the numb name-recalling regions of your brain, even as your smile gets more and more forced, because smiling has become a mechanical absentminded process while you think. Go ahead, but you're acting a bit weird, with longer-than-normal gaps between speech bubbles — you're not in the conversation, really, you're away trying to retrieve that name and save face. Truth be told, your face is looking odd, because you're playacting, not actually conversing.
Or, if you prefer, you could make your process transparent. You could simply say, “Funniest thing, I know your name as well as my dog's, but right now for the life of me I can't think what it is.” Very likely she will laugh, provide the name, tell you about the last time she did this herself, and then you can get on with a normal conversation. There will be no weirdness about it, unless one of you has some crazy philosophy that people should always remember names. (And haven't we all been called the wrong name by our own friends and relations?) (And it's not just people names. One friend still makes fun of me for that time at the farmers' market when I said “my that” because the word sweater eluded me.)
All you did differently in option #2 is speak out loud what was happening inside, because this internal event was so compelling that it was distracting you. Since that's what you were really attending to, it made sense to bring it into view so you weren't talking around it and confusing the other person as you dug yourself into a deeper hole.
This is making your process transparent. It's simple, clear, honest. It's real, even raw, and people tend to appreciate the vulnerability and, well, transparency of it; and then, more often than not, they meet you there. Making your process transparent is a gorgeous and powerful way to reconnect in the moment as quickly as you notice disconnection. The reconnection is first with yourself — calling yourself back from confusion — and with the other, meeting that one authentically, as you are in the moment.
When I came to this concept of making my process transparent, I was in the last stages of learning how to stop yelling at my children. I was a terrible, scary yeller at first. It was appalled, truly, to find myself replicating the worst version of my mother when things got stressful in nuclear-family-land. It also got me serious about healing what needed to be healed and finding another way. That's the short version of what launched the journey that got me to the life-changing process called The Work of Byron Katie.
So once I'd learned how to question my thoughts about what was wrong with my kids, and once I'd begun to accept that the yelling was here until it was gone, I started witnessing myself when I found myself yelling. And I noticed something fascinating: it looked like there was way more going on inside than outside, and the inner process was actually in opposition to the outer. As the yelling carried on or even escalated, inside I was horrified to hear myself, hating the sound of my own voice, dropping ever deeper into self-loathing, not even believing a word I was saying, and then seeking to counteract all of that with a self-righteous insistence on my good and valid reasons for yelling, which I then reiterated, loudly, in my mean-mama monologue. So much friction!
It somehow occurred to me, in order to interrupt this, to simply speak out loud what was happening internally. Yell, not speak, because if I could have just stopped myself from yelling I'd have done so years before and skipped the whole afgo of it. So I kept yelling, but now instead of making the content about what was wrong with them, I switched to a narration of my inner process that went something like this: I hear myself yelling at you and I hate myself when I do this. It's not even about you, it's about me and how frustrated I feel right now, and you don't deserve to be talked to like this, but I swear to God I have no idea how to get you to stop blah blah blah, but that's not the point, the point is that I've gotten myself all upset, and that's not your fault, and I'm going to go calm myself now, excuse me. And then I walked away while my wide-eyed kids used both hands to press their jaws shut.
I often talk about catching yourself in the old way once you've set the new intention. When you make your process transparent, you both catch yourself and speak it aloud so you don't implode from the dissonance between inner world and outer world. This also interrupts whatever external behavior results from that tug-of-war, whether it's being the fake-smiley, distracted version of yourself in a conversation or screaming and yelling at kids who will not benefit even one iota from your words delivered that way.
The application for this process is endless, and great to bring to anything you self-flagellate about. Reach for it when you're confused and don't know what to do, when you notice that what you're doing or saying on the outside doesn't match what you're thinking about or feeling on the inside, when there's something between you and the person you're talking to but no one's mentioning the elephant — anytime a shot of clarity and honesty might shake things up a bit where they're (you're) muddled. I have yet to experience a moment when it didn't make things better for me to make my process transparent. But don't take my word for it. Here's the stuff for another grand experiment. ...
Love and blessings, Jaya
Live programs for women!
I'm having so much fun gearing up for 2 spring programs and watching registrations come in. Would you like to join us?
Harness Your Power of Interpretation
Crossings Healing Center, Silver Spring, Maryland
Saturday, April 19, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
This is a workshop for women allowing ample practice in noticing and reframing our interpretations in order to enhance well-being, connection, and personal power. We'll use inquiry, storytelling and improvisation, and guided meditation. Click on event title above for details and registration information.
Light on the Hill, Van Etten, New York
This is a weekend retreat for women, May 9 - 11, in the most beautiful retreat center in upstate New York on Joy, and Now, and cultivating joy right now--which we'll do all weekend in a conscious, respectful, and sometimes irreverent community. Practice shifting your feelings states and working with your thoughts to move continually toward joy. Early-bird registration through March 31. Click on event title above for details and registration information.
Curious about coaching?
I offer a free 30-minute exploration session by phone or Skype or in person (in Ithaca, NY). To get the free session, just fill out the contact form on my website.
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In February, I did a long series of postings on love. Here are the ones that struck a chord with the most people:
Put two people in relationship: they bring up each other's stuff. Guaranteed. If there's a raw, tender spot to be bumped up against or a button to be pushed, bumping and pushing will ensue. You can use relationship to reinforce your wounds or to heal them. It's a choice in how you respond to what comes up. You can consciously use your reactions or hurts to learn about and heal yourself, and to keep returning to generosity and forgiveness, offered (lavishly) to self and other. Thus, you keep coming closer to yourself, and if it's right, if you want, if you dare, keep coming closer to the other.
How I love you: I put my whole self into it while learning when & how to put myself aside. I seek to see you with new eyes every day; I resist declaring that I know you, lest I lose sight of who you are now & of who you really are. I bring my best self & persist in looking for yours. I neither crumble nor fear love has crumbled when you're at your worst or (worse) when I'm at my worst: I remember this state is not the essential truth of who we are; I trust you to come back to that too. When something is wrong, disconnected, unspoken, uninhabitable, I meet that, I speak, I listen; I open to the power of 2 creative beings working & healing together. Loving you is what I choose, now & now & now.
In recent years, I've been single in places buzzing with sexy, coupling energy (the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival!) and I've found myself abruptly alone again after a delicious beginning, and I have not believed the typical thoughts that suggest themselves, as thoughts will. I keep finding there's nothing wrong with me. I'm not unattractive, unlovable, too this, or not enough that. What is now means NOTHING about my future prospects or my capacity for love. And I find that when you don't entertain thoughts, they get bored and go away. I'm single, and I feel great. This is so radical, I could spend a day dancing for joy.
It hurts when someone walks away carrying a bad opinion of you, or severs all connection when you didn't want that, or leaves with a betrayal. When you find yourself alone in harsh circumstances, show up for yourself. Feeling abandoned, don't abandon yourself by rehearsing and believing negative thoughts about you or your future. Be with yourself kindly. Do nothing that harms you and anything that could heal you. Be here for yourself completely, relentlessly, now and now and now. Be strong in self-love. That's your best bet for recovering the ability to love another, and love well.
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