I remember a few years ago showing up at my local polling place to vote and seeing a long line wrap around the building. The anxiety in and around the voting space was thick and palpable. After ten minutes of waiting, I almost turned around and left.
The tension and nervousness, I’m sure, were caused by combination of COVID concerns, stress about the long lines and an uneasiness about the ultimate outcome of this big election (“I wonder who he/she is voting for?!”).
I finally entered the building and scanned the room, pondering this. Then, I decided to create a shift. I dug deep for my friendliest voice, turned around, and struck up a conversation with the woman behind me in line. Despite our outward differences and choice for president (evidenced by the logo on her t-shirt), we had a beautiful, real connection. We joked about our teenagers and our husbands and talked about the state of healthcare in America. Our hour-long wait flew by and our conversation went a long way in helping to settle our nervous systems. Reaching out to connect with my new friend was the smartest thing I had done all day.
Most great spiritual teachers and traditions tell us, we only ever have two choices in how we approach our lives and day-to-day interactions: from fear or from love.
When relationships are viewed through the eyes of love, we:
• trust — and allow those we love to follow their unique path (even if we don’t agree);
• practice acceptance and let go (of parenting struggles, of who’s right, and so on);
• listen from our hearts in our interactions and respond in the moment;
• communicate openly and are more receptive and flexible;
• come from a prosperity mindset and see that there is always “enough” time, attention, space, and resources;
• see everyone’s true essence, who they really are, not how they’re acting in the moment; and
• are able to feel more compassionate towards ourselves and others.
When relationships are viewed through the eyes of fear, we
• try to control, manipulate, and micromanage people and situations, thinking we always know best;
• think things are good only when they’re going “our” way;
• operate from our heads and fall into over-thinking, criticizing and over-managing;
• become reactive and get easily triggered;
• respond negatively and see problems first, instead of acknowledging what’s going well;
• come from a poverty mindset and feel like there is never enough;
• punish, judge, and isolate ourselves from others.
Reading these extremes, who wouldn’t want to choose love over fear? We all want to feel open, free, generous and fully available to one another. But often this is hard. It’s easy to fall into old habitual patterns –like feeling victimized, righteous, resentful or seeing what’s wrong in a situation without acknowledging what’s right. Choosing love over fear takes mindfulness–even vigilance–and a willingness to consciously choose this path, moment to moment. Again and again.
Walking out of the voting location an hour and a half later, I was so grateful that I had chosen love and connection instead of succumbing to fear. It was a powerful reminder that we always, at any point, can pause, shift and course-correct.
We can choose to drop our fear-filled backpacks and step into a lighter more open way of being. We can choose love.
WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE? HERE ARE THREE OPPORTUNITIES:
- Empower your employees to find their center this fall! Schedule me to create a balanced living workshop or presentation to help your team, organization or employees feel less stressed and more resilient, creative and focused. For 20+ years I’ve been working with companies/organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, Ernst & Young, Women in Conservation, the Council on Family Violence, Bank of America, the Center for Women in Law, the Hewlett Foundation and more. Email workshops at reneetrudeau dot com. Learn more here.
- Oct. 14-16 ~ Awakening Your Wild Soul: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (this one sells out FAST; I’ll also be here Jan. 27-29)! Learn more. P.S. If you live in Western NC, join me for Wild Souls Nature Adventures. Or have me design a custom Wild Souls Blue-Ridge Mountain nature-based adventure for your team or friends Read more and sign up to get notices!
- Want to take a self-renewal retreat from the comfort of your home on your schedule + receive personal support from Renee? Available 24/7: download a virtual retreat today and enjoy complimentary copies of my books, guided meditations, a deep relaxation session and more. Only $59! View all our virtual retreats here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been facilitating high-impact interactive workshops for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups for women based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas and are enjoying a new empty nest. Her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.