It was recently suggested to me that I displayed classic symptoms of Battered Women’s Syndrome. My symptoms were as follows: I felt verbally paralyzed, unable to speak out or take a stance in fear of what consequence may follow.
I don’t remember being battered, but I have experienced near death accidents that have caused post traumatic stress reactions and I have experienced other forms of suppression, such as verbal abuse, scare tactics and withholding.
Some of these experiences are still affecting my life from time to time in the form of fear. Fear of conflict being the most energy- and time consuming. In the spirit of Vocal Freedom, I am going to share 3 key elements that I have found to be the most useful in terms of regaining my confidence and ability to resolve conflicts:
1 – Being Fully Present
My automatic reaction to stress is to dissociate, to leave my body. Dissociation may be an affective tool to handle stress in the moment, but is not conducive to being effective or productive or resolving conflicts. So, in order to move into a better feeling place and a place of power, I first need to become present in my own body, to ground myself in the here and now, to feel my feelings.
2 – Identifying the Most Ideal Outcome
It is easy to get wrapped up in other people’s words and actions, to take things personally. And to respond from a place of feeling wounded and needy. So, in order to counter this victim-based reactive behavior, I step back and try to see the situation from a higher perspective, by identifying the most ideal outcome. In order to do this effectively, it is vital that I don’t act from an emotional charge, but wait until I have identified what I really want to get out of the situation.
I recently stepped into a difficult conversation with a group of people I didn’t know. And, because my initial engagement happened as a knee-jerk reaction, I fell flat on my face. It took almost a day and a half to untangle myself from the emotional defense I had gotten myself into and to see my carefully drafted ignorant BS for what it was. This can be a tricky thing to identify, since the ego automatically will come up with a number of self-glorifying justifications for our behavior, as long as we remain emotionally charged. Stepping back and identifying the most ideal outcome, helped me see clearly how to untangle myself and proceed in a more constructive way.
3 – Humbly Embracing the Opportunity to Learn
It takes a great deal of courage to be humble. It requires enough personal strength, confidence and wisdom to see the value of such a receptive state of being. For me in particular, being humble is something I have fought, tooth and nail, every step of the way. Why? Because I mistook it for weakness. Fortunately, I have come to realize that humility can serve as a most wonderful tool to discover what is possible to achieve and receive. When I humbly embrace the opportunity to learn from a situation, however triggering, confusing or challenging it may be, I put myself in a position of optimal reception. Being humble and unassuming enable us to see and receive what we have to offer each other with greater ease and precision.
Here’s a song I wrote that expresses the magic and beauty of being fully present, identifying a most ideal outcome and humbly embracing the opportunity to learn: Dancing In The Nude. It features Jennifer Leitham on bass, Katisse Buckingham on sax and programming, Tom Zink on keys, Chris Wabich on drums and Caroline Waters on piano and vocals. Enjoy!