Adversity Response a la Tana Saler
What I do when something goes wrong, in ten steps. Add your own or subtract a step according to your own taste.
1 - Immediately say: “Oh f**k!”, “Oh no!”, “Oy vey” or any other alternative in your native tongue (unconscious reaction).
2- Go to your habitual coping strategy of dealing with conflict and stress. Mine is playing computer games on and on for hours, or browsing and shopping for pretty things that seemingly become urgently necessary in the light of the recent screwed-up events (unconscious reaction).
3 - Dissociate and project. Ignore anything going on from the neck down, and circulate your thoughts until the head, neck and shoulders become hot, pressured and stiff. Then blame your predicament on a guilty other - person, event or deity, in this particular order (unconscious reaction).
4 - Become curious and ask yourself some questions. Feel free to recycle old ones, such as: “Why me?”, “Why is this happening again?” And “What’s wrong with the world / other people / me?” Or skip this step and go to the next one:
5 - Awareness. (First conscious step of the bunch) Notice your body, your breathing, your sensations, your feelings and your thoughts. Take some time to merely stay present with that which arises inside and outside your skin.
6 - Acceptance and inquiry. Say and ask: “It is what it is. Now what?” And: “What is the kindest, most useful thing for me to do about this?”
7 - Expansion and inclusion. Expand your attention beyond the boundaries of the self, in all directions, all the way to infinity, until all people, animals, plants, fungi, amoebas, sounds, sights - okay, you get the drift - are included within your awareness. Feeling at one with this expanded is-ness, look at the people, events and situations which had triggered you as mere external representations of your mind. Each person, dark cloud, loud truck, wayward conversation, is an externalization of an aspect of your psyche.
Warning!! Step #7 will come at a cost! You may experience loss of arrogance, righteous indignation, complaining rights, shame, and every other perk that comes with the separation between Self and Other. Don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you!
Maintaining expansion, proceed to the next step.
8 - Shadow work. Identify the bothersome or admirable traits, qualities and behaviours to which you had an emotional response, and embody them, giving them a voice, stance and gesture. Look for what is valuable in each such trait, quality and behaviour, and think of times and situations when they could prove valuable. Feel your heart warm, open and glowing, and think of yourself and the people and situations involved with benevolence.
9 - Identify needs. What would you like to see happen now? What matters to you? What does the other party (the other parties) need? What does the relationship need? What does the world that you and the other(s) are part of need, or need more of?
10 - Make amends. Assess what is reasonably possible, say what needs to be said, do what is kind and useful for you and for those involved, and what connects and expands.
When you’re done, congratulate yourself for your pshycho-spiritual growth, do a dance, hug someone, eat some ice-cream, go for a walk in the sun, and cuddle a furry friend.