This is the final article in a series exploring how whatever happens is useful. Not only is this true on a personal level, it also affects the ‘being’ of your organizations.
The first article looked at how paying attention to simple events in the moment – ‘now’ – and ‘witnessing, asking and experiencing’ offers us doorways to other realities.
In the second article we examined the value of the stories people share with us as an opportunity to expand ourselves. We looked at how we can learn to assimilate our own hidden stories and end the vicious cycle of defining ourselves through them.
In today’s article we will explore the gift of our strong emotions. We all can recall moments where emotions seemingly appeared out of nowhere to overwhelm us and take us over. Something triggers the emotions and they surface without a conscious thought.
Often our mind tries to make sense of the emotion and comes up with a rational explanation after the fact. The truth is that our minds are unable to control our strong emotions when they are triggered and these emotions can often affect the flow in our personal lives and within our organizations.
All of our emotions are available within the quantum hologram of the Universe and we are able, in any moment, to make any one of them our reality. This happens when a circumstance ‘now’ triggers (or reminds us of) an emotionally loaded story that happened in the past. In an instant, anxiety, anger, sadness, fear happen to us. We are not consciously choosing an emotion, our emotions just occur through living our life. Mostly what happens is that the other realities immediately collapse and we become anxiety, anger, sadness, joy or fear. The other realities are ‘unknown’ to us as we are taken over by the strong emotion.
But what if we could keep these other realities available without rejecting the reality of the emotion we are feeling?
This is the secret gift behind our strong emotions. This is how they become our fertilizer.
How can we access the gift in a strong emotion?
- We start with the triad of ‘witnessing, asking and experiencing’. We curiously ‘ask’ and allow the ‘experiencing’ to unfold. When we are sad, anxious, angry or hurt that is precisely what we experience. We witness, without judgment and gently connect with the story attached to this strong emotion. In the story we meet a younger part of us.
- We hold space for this younger part of us. We apply ‘100% responsibility’. This simple, magic, healing tool connects us deeply with this young part of ourselves. We hold this young ‘us’ with a lot of empathy, love and acceptance. We say we are sorry for all the circumstances that triggered this young part of us. We ask for forgiveness and end the conversation when we feel ready, with gratitude for this possibility for healing.
‘100% responsibility’ is basically about engaging love and taking unconditional responsibility for whatever happens, both outside and inside of you. Taking unconditional responsibility is using four simple sentences: “I love you.” “I am sorry.” “Please forgive me.” “Thank you.” You can read more about this magic tool of ‘hundred per cent responsibility’ in Joe Vitale’s inspiring book of this old Hawaiian healing method. (Joe Vitale and Ihaleakala Hew Len. Zero Limits. The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace and More. John Wiley. Hoboken, NJ, 2007)
To illustrate this process in action, I invite you to join me on my journey. I am in a Bed & Breakfast somewhere in the Flemish Ardennes. A lovely part of my country with a lot of magnificent forests. Yesterday evening I left the Flemish part of the Camino, or Way, of St. James to reach this B&B.
At breakfast I look over my route for the day – the paths I am going to follow over the next few hours. I notice how the route will take me through several big forests and I instantaneously perceive that I feel anxiety. I don’t know what to do and at the same time I realize that I am in charge. If I want to stop now, I can do so. I can take a bus or taxi and return home. I am puzzled.
The process of ‘Witnessing, asking and experiencing’
I ask myself, “What is here ‘now’?” and notice how my thoughts make my anxiety worse. I let go of my thoughts and sit with an open mind.
I experience a tension in my heart region, moving to my throat. My breath is shallow and my heart beats rapidly. I feel nauseous.
I witness how I have no idea how to move on. I wait and stop myself from ‘doing’ anything.
I become aware of how the anxiety is an emotion that belongs to a much younger part of me. This younger me is very scared and her story is that the world is harsh and unsafe. She is triggered by the view of the huge forests waiting for me on my walk. By following this simple process I can create a distance between the anxiety this younger version of me is experiencing and the bigger, older part of me.
Holding space for this younger ‘me’
Later on, when I am alone, I surrender and I suddenly remember the tool of ‘100% responsibility’. In the moment, I hold the scared, anxious, younger part of me in a lot of love. I am patient and wait until I can feel her. I say I am sorry to create such scary conditions for her and I ask her for forgiveness. When this process feels complete, I thank her.
I leave the safety of the B&B and start walking. Soon, I arrive at the first forest. I keep on applying ‘100% responsibility,’ making sure my younger self feels safe and I notice something strange happening. It feels as if the trees are sending gentle energy to me. I feel safe.
It is my intention to try and avoid one of the huge woods and reconnect with the Camino – the sacred path I left yesterday evening. However, things do not unfold as I intended and a bit further on, I arrive at the wood anyway, in spite of my best intentions. I take a deep breath and start to walk. Again, it feels like the wood is holding me in a safe container. So amazing!
I am still a bit vigilant, but not really scared. I walk and slowly start to enjoy each step. My needs for safety are met, effortlessly and gently. I feel safe within myself and I love the company of ‘me’.
By taking 100% responsibility and by asking, witnessing and experiencing, my anxiety became a gift. I was able to accept the reality of the anxiety while, at the same time, paying attention to the moment ‘now’. As a result, more realities stayed open and available to me and, within this, I was able to meet a young part of me and offer her a healing response. This ability to create safety inside of myself is an enormous gift.
The triad ‘witnessing, asking and experiencing’ allows you to pause and simply ‘be’ with your emotions. You do not try to change what is happening, but simply accept whatever emotion you are experiencing in this moment ‘now’. By doing this, you allow the story behind the emotion to surface. This is a story of a younger part of you.
100% responsibility is the magic tool enabling you to turn your emotions into fertilizer. The adult ‘you’ engages love and takes unconditional responsibility. True healing unfolds and the younger ‘you’ can access its unique gifts.
We reach the completion of this series of articles, an ongoing invitation to simply meet whatever happens with a ‘how fascinating’ attitude. Trust that there is a quantum hologram in the Universe holding all that ever has happened and still will emerge – events, stories and emotions.
In my book Becoming What is Changing: Exposition you can discover how to create space for the strong emotions present in the ‘being’ of your organizations.
I hope you are inspired and when ready will leave a comment.
Veerle de Bock
22nd November 2013
VEERLE DE BOCK is a physician, healer, facilitator, trainer, coach and author of the trilogy, Becoming What is Changing. She spent nearly three decades of her life as a physician specializing in geriatric care, including a 21-year career as department head in an Antwerp regional hospital. In 2003, she began her study as an energetic healer, teacher, process facilitator and supervisor at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing and, since 2007 has helped many trainees to master these same skills. In 2010 she was trained in the practice of Dynamic Facilitation by Jim Rough, which she now incorporates into her workshops and training sessions. In 2012 she decided to devote her work exclusively to writing, facilitation and coaching. That same year, she devised a new integrative practice of facilitation she calls ‘Guest House Facilitation’ that helps teams learn how to listen and utilise both the inner and outer processes within their organisation, to see it as a dynamic and living organism, and to reconnect to its intrinsic purpose and intention. Her book, Becoming What is Changing: Exposition, is the first part of a trilogy aimed at managers, team leaders and responsible employees who wish to bring this kind of transformation into the workplace, so they can create an environment where people are happy, satisfied and continuously growing.
Contact Veerle about the book, or to discuss coaching/facilitation for your organisation at: