I learned a few things at NMX this past week…that didn’t have a thing to do with the conference.
I attended a ton of sessions and met up with old friends and made a couple of new ones. I gathered a lot of information that will be quite helpful going forward.
What struck me though, were those things I learned outside of the session rooms. Things I learned about me.
I played the victim
I met someone who I knew online for several years. Once upon a time, I felt embarrassed in a twitter chat by something this person said to me, and it turned into anger. I’ve held on to that embarrassment and anger ever since. I refused to follow or friend him, would leave conversations if he showed up, and generally didn’t want to be in the same space as him. I knew he would be at NMX, and I didn’t want to meet him. As these things naturally happen, he was one of the first people I saw and met after we checked in to the conference. After introducing ourselves to each other, he said it was nice to finally meet in person. I was taken aback by that. Remember, I was holding on to anger over something that happened eons ago. He had no clue, he was being genuine.
What I learned: He’s a nice guy who really is not the “monster” I made him out to be. He is very interesting to speak with, and I felt that I had wasted a lot of time hanging on to feelings that were no longer relevant. I missed a lot of good conversations being angry.
In another situation, I was standing in a group where a former friend was as well. I say former, as this person just stopped talking to me. I knew this person was also going to be at the conference, so I prepared myself. I barely acknowledged this person. Instead of saying hello with a smile and a hug as others were doing, I gave a half-assed wave and a small hi, instead. I felt justified in that moment in doing what I did.
What I learned: There is no excuse for bad manners, regardless of how you feel. What I had done, was what I felt this person had done to me in the past. I had previously felt ignored, so I played “tit for tat.” About twenty minutes after that very uncomfortable exchange, I felt icky. I can’t say if this person felt the same, but I do know that I felt bad about my actions.
Bottom line: In both instances, I had played the victim for so long that I carried that with me to the conference. I had to turn the “they did this to me” back on me and acknowledge that I am responsible for how I feel.
Listen, Learn, Absorb, and Don’t Interject
I spent a lot of time listening, learning and absorbing things that were going on. Truly, that isn’t as easy as it sounds. When you’re listening to a great conversation, sometimes the urge to interject hits. Well, it does for me, and I hit it at the wrong moment… a few times. It wasn’t my conversation to interrupt, but I did. Not good. Sometimes, you really do need to sit back and just listen. Sometimes, you need to keep your mouth shut. Oh, there are times when it’s absolutely right to comment, ask questions, etc. There are places in the conversation that allow that. I missed those places. Mind you, it wasn’t an intentional move on my part — I did it unconsciously.
What I learned: I found that I have a tendency to “jump” into conversations where I shouldn’t. I have a need to be heard, and I do it a lot. This is something I learned to do at a very young age. There is a reason I do it now. As I said above, it’s an unconscious move on my part. I just do it. It was embarrassingly brought to my attention (by someone I implicitly trust), and allows me to go forward aware of how I am when speaking with others. That’s a good thing.
Listen to what you’re saying
One of things I also have not really done is listen (really listen) to what I’m saying when I speak to others. Rather than being conscious of what comes out of my mouth, I, at times, unconsciously phrase my words in a way that might sound “victimy,” rather than taking a more honest and direct approach. It boils down to again, turning the phrase “I felt, I am, etc.,” back on me, rather than “he said, she did, etc.”
What I learned: Obviously, not every conversation goes that way. I don’t blame everyone for everything, I just sound like I do on occasion. By listening to what I’m saying, I get a better understanding of how I’m feeling in the moment vs how I think someone is making me feel. When you listen to what you’re saying, you can be more honest in a conversation.
Where is all of this coming from?
So, where did all of this learning come from? As a member of Expedition Self, one of the requirements (I call it a perk) of working with Sam Parrotto is that we take part in growth work. Expedition Self is a self-development community that is NOT about fixing what’s wrong. We’re learning about the Self — exploring how we came to be, who we are and practicing new ways of being.
It’s hard work, very hard. And, it’s very painful. And I’ve just begun. When you have behaved in one or more ways most (if not all) of your life, and now you’re being challenged to change those behaviors, your first (well mine anyway) reaction is to fight, push back or run. What Sam and Suzy (my coach) are doing is helping me see how I have hurt me and my relationship with others. All done unconsciously, all done as a protective mechanism from when I was very young. As one who rarely cries and stuffs all of my anger down, I’m not doing myself or anyone else any favors. It’s time I learned something new.
On occasion I will write about my experiences with the growth work – you’ll know when those posts show up. It will be a way for me to be honest about how I feel and look at things, and see what’s underneath the layers of who I am. It’s a journey. No judgements… just feelings and a way for me to “be” with my Self, for the first time in my life.
Photo credit: CardsbyLyon