In every relationship and interaction, even those that are at work, we are motivated by either love or fear. This may sound like an oversimplification – and in some ways it is – but its true.
Think about it.
Pick a recent difficult interaction you have had with someone, perhaps at work. Give yourself a moment to be curious, and trace the feeling you had in the interaction back to it’s root inside of you. Were you coming from a place that was expansive, trusting, grateful, kind and open, even though the interaction was difficult? If so, you were able to meet that interaction from a place of love. Or were you coming from a place of constriction, tightening, holding back, or even anger? Well, then you were probably coming from a place of fear.
Making a choice takes mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a way of focusing your awareness in the moment, in order to be aware of the choices you are making. Mindfulness allows you to be curious about how you are approaching your engagements with others. It is important to wonder: are you choosing to operate from love or from fear in your interactions?
Although we all have painful experiences that might lead us to think that closing down or reacting defensively might be appropriate, the truth is that it is actually never helpful to react to a situation from a place of fear. Fear is a reaction that closes down our capacity to think clearly about our next move in any situation. It prevents us from being able to discern what is truly happening, and how to best respond to it.
Mindful self-awareness allows for some gracefulness in moments of fear, because it slows things down. It allows us to begin to be clear about how we are operating. The time between the stimulus and the reaction lengthens. There is time to choose – where do I want to come from right now? What is the best way for me to contribute at this moment? With mindfulness awareness, you have the opportunity to choose to be your best self – and respond from love.
What it might mean for you?
It is helpful to bring attention to your interactions, and be self-reflective. Are there times or places where you constrict or tighten, where fear takes over?
If so, you are not alone!
Here are some suggestions. If you find yourself feeling tight, or shut down, or anxious, take the time to stop and be curious. Pay attention to your breath. Slow down. Allow yourself to wonder what you are feeling and why. And then, allow yourself to return to your best intentions. Allow your loving nature to surface. Breathe this openness and kindness into any tightness you may be feeling. Give yourself some time to relax and focus here.
Interceding like this won’t stop your fear reaction every time. But letting yourself be curious about what is motivating you allows you to ultimately choose how you relate to others. If you are hoping to be constructive and productive as a leader, even in difficult situations, we suggest choosing love.