The Most Generous Act
I was on a call with a couple last week, and what I experienced blew me away.
When each of us enters into a conversation with another person, there are two versions of ourselves that potentially show up: the mechanism-self and the true self.
In our “fights” and persistent complaints with each other, we’re showing up as our mechanism-self.
The mechanism-self is the default self with all the triggers and reactions. (The "ego" is the control center of the mechanism-self.)
The mechanism-self has very clear, obvious, and unchanging goals:
Protect ourselves from perceived threats
Avoid being controlled or dominated
Avoid looking bad
Be right or win
Avoid inferiority (or prove it!)
“Make it” through the conversation, situation, day, or week
The mechanism-self employs these same strategies again and again with no new effects or impacts. In fact, the mechanism-self is typically detrimental to the well-being of our relationships and even ourselves!
You know your mechanism-self. It’s who shows up when you find yourself reacting to the same situation and the same person over and over and over again. It’s like a dance whose steps awaken demons and bring hell to your relationship's world, but neither of you can seem to stop dancing it!
That’s what was happening with this couple last week. They’ve been together for decades, but their mechanism-selves keep showing up to defend themselves! But they’re defending something that doesn’t need defending, because it’s clear that they care about each other and actually want nothing but the best for each other.
The problem with allowing our default mechanism-self to attempt problem resolution is that our mechanism-self resolves problems by going to war with the other person’s mechanism-self, and forward movement becomes impossible.
That's what was happening on last week's call, until I noted the exact moments where something else was possible...the exact moments to interrupt the mechanism-self with the true-self.
And then I saw it, the most powerful act of generosity I’ve ever witnessed: the couple gave up their mechanisms' reactions in service of love, compassion, and understanding.
Yes, our defenses can FLARE UP in reaction to a tone, to an emotion, or to a statement, and that moment is the key moment of decision in our relationships. That moment determines whether there’s Peace or Carnage. That moment determines whether there's Love or Judgment.
Relaxing the shoulders, relaxing the emotions, and letting go the intense desire to prove ourselves right is the most generous thing we can ever do. It can also be one of the hardest things we ever do! These emotions can be fiery!!
That's what makes this the most generous act in our relationships: in the face of all the mechanism's defenses, to choose love, compassion, understanding, and care over being right.
It's also kind of like a leap of faith, at least at first. And it's worth it.
In a calm moment of clarity, pick an inspired and empowered place to stand in your relationships. Then, in your next "fight," stand there no matter how fired up the mechanism-self gets.
For me, it's Unconditional Love.
P.S. As a transformational life coach, I help teens, adults, and organizations move beyond their self-imposed limitations to be their best and feel their best. If you’re interested in finding out how I can support you or your organization, reach out and let’s talk. 💌