The expression of anger and fear, can be a charge that creates or triggers the unconscious habit reaction patterns in another. Or, it can allow for a powerful communication that can lead to connection.
The degree of expression, the level, tone, and word choice are the factors that affect how another responds or reacts. Using breath to get you into your center and remaining centered is the most helpful way to begin to use the mindfulness process to assess what may be happening in the interaction.
When you are feeling angry or put off by someone’s comments it may be one of your boundaries has been crossed, or that you are reacting from an unconscious habit pattern, or that the other person’s comments are the result of their unconscious habit pattern.
The most difficult of these to deal with is the latter. The first two are within your control you can look at what boundary is being crossed and take steps to respond to that OR in the second case you can become more mindful by questioning your anger and habit reaction to help you get into a more centered space to respond more clearly, and in a more defined way.
However when it is the other person’s unconscious reaction pattern, you can only get through to them if they are wiling to hear that they are not in the present moment reacting with you. This is difficult because the basic position of the unconscious habit reaction is defensive so it negates the opportunity for being open to insightful information.
Usually your level of intimacy can increase your ability to help the other person look at their behavior; but sometimes the closest people to us are the least willing to learn from us about themselves. Especially if they are invested in the relationship not growing – in other words if the pattern of the relationship serves them from an unconscious habit pattern.
Emotion and feeling can mediate between figure and ground. Using feeling, “I” statements, to evoke a softening of the defensive position of the other person is the best strategy to help to unravel the unconscious habit reaction pattern. Go for connecting statements rather than separating statements. This is counterintuitive most people want to define how they are different when they feel at odds with someone but actually that just increases the defensive reaction.
Focusing on the connections brings down the wall of defensiveness so that mindfulness can come in to play to replace the unconscious reaction pattern. After this is secure then you can look at where you and the other person diverge and perhaps see if you are actually dealing with a figure/ground dichotomy.
Gestalt is roughly translated to mean ‘the whole’. Gestalt figure ground illusions show us there are (at least) two perspectives that make up the whole. In order to make the transition to one from the other one has to be mindful – and open to the possibility of the other perspective.
Breathing and centering, using feeling and connecting statements, these actions all allow for the line between the two to be less bold so that one is more able to view the other perspective. And in some cases move back and forth between the two – between the figure and ground perspective.
This allows for connection and increased understanding of each point of view as well as the whole.
In Reiki a type of energy medicine, two of the guiding statements are very useful in focusing one into a state of mindfulness and creating the opportunity for connecting and centering. One is Just for today I will have the attitude of gratitude and the other is Just for today I will not Anger.
I encourage you to pick one of those statements and use it as a mantra as you go through your day. It may help you to focus in on yourself and the situation in a more mindful way and open new pathways for change and connection in your relationships.
See you tomorrow.