There are moments when I feel my ego rear its ugly head, where my self-protective armor amasses itself, almost unwittingly, seemingly beyond my control. And then, there's that moment when I sheepishly disarm myself. Unfortunately, some time passes between these two events, most often.
I realize that in my own life, in my own mind, I provide myself with an endless feedback loop and inquiry into the practice that is my daily life. I am hugely fallible; I over-share; I think things one day that the next I roll my eyes at; I have to self-correct on a regular basis. And I continually process and learn. I wish I could be "right" at some moment. But, most often, when I think I am, I fall on my face the next day.
My professional inquiry this week has been a mirror of this process, and part of a larger feedback loop that I am providing for colleagues--feedback on performance that (in theory) will be used to deepen and develop more responsive pedagogies to support participants' learning. And when I hit walls (aka resistance from others), I feel my own ego surface (in the form of "why can't you just take these observations in the generative spirit in which they are being offered?") And I feel myself succumbing to the same sort of "I'm right/ you're wrong" stance I'm trying to disrupt. An a-ha moment, indeed. And one that is not new to me professionally (which makes my knee-jerk, hurt feelings, keep-a-smile- on-the-outside reaction seem even sillier). This is not my first rodeo; this is not my first experience with "Hey you might want to consider..." that is met with body language that communicates, "Who the f--- are you to tell me what to do?"
From Pema Chodron (who always has the words I need): Classifications of good and bad come from lack of maitri. We say that something is good if it makes us feel secure and it's bad if it makes us feel insecure. That way we get into hating people who make us feel insecure and hating all kinds of religions or nationalities that make us feel insecure. And we like those who give us ground under our feet.
What I'm learning this week, is that I want to be able to both support people (and myself) in feeling the ground under their feet, even if what I'm sharing brings out insecurities in them (and me), and I am learning that experiences that do not necessarily feel warm and fuzzy, are worth softening into.
When we feel resentful or judgmental, it hurts us and it hurts others. But if we look into it we might see that behind the resentment there is fear and behind the fear there is a tremendous softness. There is a very big heart and a huge mind—a very awake, basic state of being. To experience this we begin to make a journey, the journey of unconditional friendliness toward the self that we already are. --Pema Chodron
It's a challenging journey; I'd like to continue on this journey without hurting myself or hurting others. Going to have to keep practicing.