Hello SOTGC community,
Do you have blind spots? Do you get blindsided?
You know the moment. Everything’s going fine… until suddenly it isn’t. Someone does something that makes you completely lose your footing. You’re caught off guard. Shaken. Hurt. You feel powerless, manipulated, and exposed.
A parade of emotions runs through you: anger, rage, fear, confusion, doubt, self-questioning, regret. If you’re like me, you immediately slip into self-judgment: “How did I just let that happen?” You grope for a way to make sense of it, searching for the story that will lift you out of the hole you just fell into as if nothing ever happened.
Those stories are easy to find, and they pop up while we’re still in the throws of emotion. She’s a complete ________. I’ve never known someone so ___________. I’m such a __________. Blame gives us a quick ending, a moral to the story, so we can move on.
It’s not pretty, and it’s a pretty limited version of who we are, but we might choose it because it gets the job done … temporarily.
But when we find ourselves back in a similar place twice or more, and the hole we fall into is just as deep, then we’ve spotted a pattern. That’s a clear opportunity.
This situation is a potential game-changer for you! It may not feel like it, but you have the chance to find a whole new way out of that hole, one that makes you shine brighter and stronger than when you fell in.
Consider this: What if this situation is perfect timing because it’s actually the exact experience you need to grow into the person you want to become?
If we can hold that larger context for ourselves, we can start to guide our own experience toward self-realization and fulfillment. This is the longer road to getting your power back, but the payoff is beautiful.
Once you open up to this possibility, to make the most of it, you’ll want to focus on staying present to your experience. Be brave and feel your emotions—all of them—but try to avoid developing a story around them. Stories might show up as blame or explanations that give you quick, half-hearted relief.
For example, if, at some point, you’re hanging your head like you’re a loser—or pumped up like you’re the one coming out on top—you’ve probably got a story cooking. But don’t fall for it. Remember: You’re looking for a brand new way out of this hole, one that is empowering in a new way. It shouldn’t feel familiar.
Be gentle with yourself. Let the stories come and go.
With self-empathy, give yourself the space to feel and let your emotions shift. Once you can push the stories aside and surrender to whatever this event has to teach you, that’s when your inquiry begins.
Start listening for the growth you’re opening up to. Ask yourself, “What do I want to gain from this experience?”
Before we go on, I should share my core assumptions about you. I believe you are responsible for the choices that steer your life, and that you are strong enough to captain your own ship.
I also believe you have the inner resources to weather the storms that rock your boat- even the scary, big ones—for the sake of becoming the best captain you can be.
That said, I’m going to suggest a challenging question to use as an inquiry. It’s one I’ve used myself:
Assuming I want to take 100% responsibility for everything that is within my control, what choices did I make leading up to this event that may have co-created it?
Leave judgment aside. Self-love is crucial in this step. Remember, you’re goal in taking responsibility is not punishment but to get your power back. That means, you’re not looking for what you did wrong.
You’re looking to open your eyes to something you didn’t see before.
Take a deeper look at what blindsided you. What are the similarities in your experiences of getting blindsided? What’s your pattern?
For example, were there signs, looking back, that something was coming? How did you respond?
Had anyone warned you that the event might happen, but it seemed too unrealistic?
Had you talked yourself out of an instinct you felt along the way?
Did the event cause the person to fall from a pedestal (that you hadn’t realized you put him or her on)?
Opening your eyes to see what you haven’t let yourself see before is a courageous act.
In those moments, we take off the protective defenses we’ve been carrying, and we can feel hurt, disappointed, shocked, dismayed, broken-hearted, scared … all kinds of difficult emotions may follow. As it turns out, we had pretty good reason to look away.
So why do it?
I don’t know the ultimate destination this inquiry will lead you; only you can discover that. But what I do know is that these emotions won’t break us. On the contrary; deciding to embrace them will expand us.
Choosing not to run from an experience means we are truly living, giving ourselves full permission to be human. It also means we believe we are strong enough to handle it.
You might also ask yourself, “What am I now allowing myself to see that I wasn’t before?” Or, “What am I growing out of or leaving behind?”
We grow by leaps and bounds when we let ourselves be changed by something that happens. That’s because we dive into a search for a new way of looking at things, one that empowers us to step further into our potential. That search takes guts.
It’s not the quality in the other person that we are truly wrestling with. It’s the experience in ourselves that this quality brings up. That experience is trying to tell us something.
If you choose to keep your inquiry about the other person, you’ll come away with a new way of approaching that person. But if you keep your inquiry about you, and the part you play in it, you’ll come away with a new approach to life.
You’ll witness first-hand how resilient you truly are. And seeing that for yourself is how you get your power back.
When we know we are strong enough to face a situation or experience, we don’t fixate on anyone else’s behavior, and we don’t need anyone to act any certain way. We have faced ourselves and learned to approach ourselves with compassion. And with this new opening we carry more compassion for others, too.
We no longer take others’ mistreatment of us to mean something about us or our value. Instead, we understand we are witnessing what it’s like to be human, and we look to ourselves to make the next call.
We take others off of that pedestal and step up to meet our own needs. We draw boundaries where we need them. We unapologetically care for ourselves, and move forward with clear intention.
As a result of your inquiry, your clear intention might make you fiercely honest. Or it might make you feel suddenly grounded. Or you might experience a new fearlessness.
Whatever your change, the next time you encounter the signs you missed last time around, well, you won’t miss them. And you won’t get reactionary and slip into story-land, either.
Because experiencing your own resilience has given you confidence.
And with that, you will respond with new wisdom.
Have you ever struggled to bounce back from something like this? What’s an example of when you got your power back? What did you learn? Share your insights in the comments!