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Meeting Yourself on the Path

That can't be me... or can it?


A Time for Reflection

By Mindy L. Hitchcock


Whenever I tried to communicate with this one lawyer, her responses were terse and uncooperative, bordering on hostile. At one point she hurled a tirade of outrageous accusations at me. She made slanderous statements about me in court – including a claim that I sent my client to a "faith healer."

I was already upset. After a year of hard work on a tough divorce case, my client replaced me with another lawyer at the very end, to avoid paying her sizeable bill. In my place she hired this combative woman who assailed my professional dignity in court. In 17 years of practicing law I'd never been accused of breaching ethics. Now I was shamed amid my peers.

 

What had I done? I sent my client, who was undergoing a very vicious divorce, to a Reiki Master who would use healing touch to soothe her nerves, help her focus in this stressful period. Reiki practitioners undergo several levels of training and certification; this individual was among the best around. But the other lawyer had a great deal of aversion to spiritual healers, putting them in the same category as snake oil salespeople.

 

I was furious! This lawyer assumed I was a flake because I ran a spiritually oriented, holistic law firm that sought to uplift clients and resolve conflict. Here I was, emotionally buried for trying to help! She had slandered my character, and I was going to have to put her in her place! It was all-out war. So much for the win-win solution!

 

I couldn't stop thinking about the courtroom scene; it woke me up in the night.

Have you ever been in this situation? On one hand, you are roiling with anger from the attack on your dignity and the unfairness of it all. On the other hand, your wise self seeks the spiritual lesson that comes from each crisis. There are no mistakes, and there is a reason why everything happens when it does. Luckily, my inner wisdom won out this time, and I got the gift.

 

Browsing a bookstore I found new inspiration, "Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High," by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. A few pages into this text, the message came through loud and clear.

 

The authors said the most successful people are those who can think clearly during crucial conversations, the time when most of us have the adrenaline flowing, the charging bull ready to rage. Who can think straight when your heart is pumping reserves to organs ready to do battle or flee?

 

Those who can calm themselves find themselves respected at work, and happy in long-term marriages. Clearly the real success in life comes from peace within, not acquisitions of titles and cash. Where do most of us land? The authors say most take some form of Silence: masking, avoiding or withdrawing. Or Violence: controlling, labeling and attacking the accuser.

 

Being a holistic lawyer, I felt sure this wouldn't apply to me, but just to be sure I went to the web and took their mini-test. (www.crucialconversations.com/sus ) The results? Turns out I demonstrated 5 of the Silence tactics, and 6 of the violence tactics, for a total of 11 out of 12 negative responses to crisis.

 

Yikes! Who, Me? "Yes, YOU," said my inner wisdom gently. I was beginning to understand why the gift of this confrontation had happened to me, at this time in my life. I was ready to move to a new level of understanding, and learn to "walk my talk" with increasing depth. I began to see how much my resorting to these tactics hurt my relationships in the past, and how much my life would continue to improve as I learned new techniques

 

The authors suggest asking three critical questions before letting emotions take hold of a crisis situation: What do I want for me? What do I want for others? What do I want for the relationship? Staying focused on these questions in a crisis prevents us from getting sidetracked with ego related irrelevancies. Like our wounded pride, or our desire to crush our enemy. These are merely red herrings, which sidetrack us from true resolution.

 

A Course in Miracles teaches that there are only two emotions: love and fear. When someone attacks us, they are acting from fear, or "safety concerns." When we attack back, so are we. The only way to resolve a conflict is to get back into dialogue, and the only way to get back into dialogue is to notice when safety is at risk. It is then time to step out of the content of the conversation, establish safety for all the participants, and then return to the discussion.

 

Sounds easy? Well, I wouldn't call it easy, since the ego-warrior in me, the ravenous dog, stands ready to attack at the slightest provocation. (She is a scary person to meet on the path!) But I am willing to change, and I am open and receptive to learning how to interact in new ways that are mutually gratifying for all concerned. As I ponder these thoughts I've booked myself an appointment with that same Reiki Master. Let peace start from within and flow outward to the world.

 

Affirmation: I release the need to be right. Out of this situation only good will come. This is easily resolved for the highest good of all concerned. All is well, and I am safe.