What do you generally do when you are in an interaction with someone and you are feeling anxious, scared, or lonely from the interaction?
Perhaps the other person is judging you, blaming you, or threatening you, or is being sarcastic or discounting of you. Or maybe the other person keeps interrupting you and bringing the conversation back to him or herself. Perhaps the other person is going on and on, not letting you get in a word edgewise. Or maybe the other person is just completely non-responsive to you, not listening to you or acting as if you are not there.
These interactions will often bring about an inner feeling of stress. How do you respond to your inner stress?
Most people, in response to their inner stress, have learned to protect against the feeling in a number of ways: arguing, defending, explaining, attacking, withdrawing or complying. These are just of few of the ways you might have learned to protect against the inner stress. Yet none of these actually deal with the stressful feeling.
This stressful feeling is your inner child telling you that something is wrong. The feeling is telling you that you are picking up a negative energy, an energy that is not in resonance with peace and love. If you respond to this stressful feeling with your own protective behavior, then you are also moving out of alignment with yourself, out of alignment with peace and love. By protecting against your stressful feelings with some form of controlling behavior, you have abandoned yourself, which results in even more stress. Now, not only are you responding with stressful behavior to the negative energy that is being aimed at you, but you have also abandoned yourself in the face of it.
However, if you practice attending to your feelings, you will begin to be more aware of negative energy. You will gradually become more aware of your feelings, of the stress that comes when negative energy is aimed at you. With consistent practice, you will become more and more mindful of your feelings.
Once you are aware of your feelings, then you can move into compassion for them with a deep desire to learn what is causing them, rather than just reacting to them. Once you are open to learning about what your feelings are telling you, you can quickly discern that you are feeling stressed due to negative energy being aimed at you. Once you are aware of this, you have a much better chance of moving into loving action - speaking up for your feelings.
In an important relationship such as with a partner, a close friend, or a co-worker, speaking up for your feelings can take different forms, depending upon the situation. But a standard response could be something like, "This isn't feeling good. This is feeling stressful." Once you have made this kind of statement, then you can decide what is the next loving action. There are really only two different loving actions you can take in important relationships when there is negative energy coming at you. One is to open to learning with the other person, which might look like this:
"This isn't feeling good. This feels very stressful. I'd like to understand what's happening for you right now. Are you willing to explore it with me?"
The other healthy choice is to express your limit and take action on it, which might look like this:
"This isn't feeling good. This negative energy is feeling stressful. I'm going to take a 10 minute time out (or whatever time you want), and then see if we can talk about it with openness and caring." Then you would need to leave the interaction by going into another room, taking a walk, or getting off the phone. You can come back in 10 minutes or whatever length of time you stated, and see if the other person is open.
If the other person is not open when you come back, then it is best not to discuss the issue until both of you are open. If the person never opens, then at least you have managed your own feelings with compassion rather than escalating the interaction by being reactive.
You will find that your stress level goes down once you become adept at speaking up for your feelings and taking loving action in your own behalf.
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