Archive | June, 2014

The Problem with Rose Coloured Glasses. . .

30 Jun

Maybe you are familiar with the well-known concept of rose-coloured glasses? As a girl, these were my favourite lenses through which to see the world. I was happily naive. And sometimes this served me well. Other times . . . not so much. One summer out at the cottage, a tornado came twisting near the house. Instead of running into the house’s centre for safety, I ran toward the window just in time to watch a tree get pulled into the air and slammed down metres from where I stood. Crazy! And that’s not the only story I have to share.

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So, today we are continuing the conversation around how we interpret experiences, and tying back into how our minds will often delete, distort or generalize experiences in our attempt to understand them. I’m about to share with you a story of countering adversity, and in doing so, share how removing a distortion equipped me with the ability to face a very dangerous situation head-on.

What is distortion?

Distortion: We misrepresent our reality through distorting our experience of pure sensory information. Being intimidated by certain people, frightened of a harmless situation, procrastinating, or misinterpreting what someone says, are examples of how people distort reality to their detriment. On the other hand, the process of planning, imagining or visualising something also uses distortion as a way of constructing goals and compelling futures.

What is countering adversity?

countering adversity means growing from setbacks and moving forward with knowledge from that experience. At times, having experienced adversity can even help us understand a situation or opportunity from a new perspective. It’s an element we’ve touched upon before in our conversation around Spiritual Intelligence.

The story

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Back in 1994 I went on a family trip down to Jamaica, and brought along my boyfriend. It was a great trip, and I can remember quite vividly being in the market with my mother, and meeting a lady named Nelly. Nelly took one look at me, and quickly told my mom that I had such a big heart. She also warned that with a bright light like mine, I’d also attract darkness.

It was the first time I really stopped to consider attracting darkness. As Nelly shared this so empathically, I found myself taking off those rose coloured glasses for a moment. At this same market, my boyfriend was walking around – except he didn’t seem to be acting normally. He was flirting with women and not behaving like his normal loving self.

But my glasses quickly dropped back over my eyes as we left that market, and they stayed there until a bit later when he and I decided to row a boat out onto the waters of Port Antonio. Suddenly, he became enraged – his anger was erupting from him, and the angrier he became the more the boat rocked. We were out in the water without life jackets, in this boat that was bobbing back and forth dangerously. This might sound strange, but in that moment when I felt threatened, I didn’t become scared but instead called to him to cast away that darkness – demons get out of there!

And he calmed down immediately. Whether it was shock from my proclamation, or maybe it was a bad energy moving onward, either way it worked.

I hadn’t wanted to believe what I was seeing in my normally caring boyfriend, but nevertheless did see the bizarre behaviour – and somehow managed to scare it away.

When we counter adversity, there are often context and content reframes. You can look at a problem and ask yourself, “what else is going on here?” By changing your perception, you can change your interpretation of the experience.

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Both with the flying tree and that rocking boat, I see myself now as having been protected. I was protected by some kind of intervention that kept that tree away from the window, and I was protected through awareness when Nelly opened my eyes. For me, it feels like I was protected by God, and so it has given me a sort of confidence and sense of protection.

Even with my boyfriend of that time, terrifying as it was to see him change so drastically, something helped me find that inner power to say “no”, cut through the distorted reality, and create a different one to tackle that moment of harm.

Isn’t it interesting how these big life moments can lead to reframes and new perspectives in our spirituality? Do you have any moments in life that made you rethink a ‘why’ or take off the rose coloured glasses for the better? We’d love to hear and share your stories.

Stay tuned for more to come in our miniseries about interpreting experiences and the multiple intelligences.

Till next week,

Cam

Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ360, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), has been coaching high-level women and men for over six years, and is now opening her expertise to those emerging in business. Camille pulls her blog topics from her unique coaching approach that combines her training as a EQi 2.0 and EQ360 certified facilitator with the dig-deeper tools of NLP.

Get in touch here if you’d like to talk with Cam about group or one-on-one coaching, and EQ assessments. With the miracle of Skype and telephones – distance is no issue!

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A very personal example: How we interpret an experience

23 Jun

Today’s post is a pretty personal one. It’s about something that just happened in our family, and still feels incredibly raw. I want to tie it into our series on Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) with empathy and comapassion, and our miniseries that covers how we interpret an experience by revisiting this difficult moment from the perspectives of empathy and compassion (SQ) and generalization (interpretation of experience).

So here it goes. Last week my mom went to discuss a bronchoscopy biopsy to determine if she has lung cancer. We spent ages in the appointment room with the oncologist going over the results and discussing options. When we came out of that room, all my mother really wanted was a cigarette to smoke, and she was asking to be wheeled outside and for the cigarettes – the cigarettes I was carrying for her in my purse.

I froze.

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What does it mean to generalize from the perspective of interpreting experiences?

To Generalize: The process of learning and drawing conclusions so that information can be applied for the achievement of any task, requires generalising. For example, a toddler who learns how to open a door for the first time, quickly generalises their new ability so that all types of doors can be opened from then on. Similarly, a negative experience may generalise through a persons life and result in issues later on, i.e. being bitten once by a dog can result in a phobia of dogs.

And what is it to feel empathy vs. compassion?

Empathy: involves being able to articulate your awareness of another’s perspective and behaving in a way to align with other’s feelings. It means understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself in the past or you have an innate ability to put yourself in their shoes. Being “in sympathy” acknowledges another person’s emotional hardships and providing comfort and assurance.

Compassion: moves us forward by liberating us out of our thinking and feeling that sometimes glues us to the unresolved issues deep inside us. Compassion is the action we take to demonstrate our empathy.

I have a strong generalization when it comes to cigarettes. I simply see them as harmful, they don’t align with my values around health. But what do you do when someone you loves doesn’t share your value?

When my mother asked for her cigarettes right after that difficult appointment, in my head I could understand – she wanted to regain her power, she needed that moment for relief. And yet, the cigarettes are clearly damaging her. The cancer is there in her lungs. This is BIG stuff. Smoking is off the table if you want to treat lung cancer and remove tumours.

Would it have been compassionate of me to wheel her out of the hospital and help her have her smoke? For every puff, I could image her tumour getting bigger. I love my mom, and I could understand why she wanted that relief – but I love my mom. I know how cigarettes hurt.

As I said, I simply froze. I froze and could not transition that empathy into action. My generalization was screaming out me: Smoking is dangerous! And yet my mother was waiting to be helped.

Who knows what the right thing was to do, but I found myself unable to move. I became the fly on the wall as my sister took over and wheeled mom out for her smoke – I felt out of my body in the third position watching as the action unfolded around me. What was going on? I asked myself. Is this the most loving thing you can do for your mother in this moment?

I look back now at that almost out of body experience. As I share this story it still confuses me, but I can realize now that to be truly empathetic is to leave judgement aside. It is hard, but I can see that my generalizations around smoking led me to a judgement that stopped empathy from becoming compassion.

In yesterday’s moment of confliction, pretending I could go back in time, would I do anything differently?

Yes. I would feel torn, and it would be hard. But the truly compassionate response would have been to do what mom wanted. As I look down upon that now, I feel more open – in that moment, after the oncologist broke the news about cancer – to helping my mother have her cigarette.

Whew. There’s a lot in this post – but looking through that new lens has helped with a moment that shocked me. And I think it will help me going forward, too.

Have you ever had a moment that challenged your generalizations? And what do you do in situations where a loved one’s values don’t match your own? Please share your insights and stories in the comments below.

Till next week,

Cam

Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ360, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), has been coaching high-level women and men for over six years, and is now opening her expertise to those emerging in business. Camille pulls her blog topics from her unique coaching approach that combines her training as a EQi 2.0 and EQ360 certified facilitator with the dig-deeper tools of NLP.

Get in touch here if you’d like to talk with Cam about group or one-on-one coaching, and EQ assessments. With the miracle of Skype and telephones – distance is no issue!

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