I remember a few years ago pulling 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 a 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. Join me Sept. 15-17 in the magical, sacred NC Blue Ridge Mountains and explore how to stand in allegiance to yourself and keep choosing love. Learn more.
WANT TO LEARN THE ART/SCIENCE OF SELF-CARE? HERE ARE THREE OPPORTUNITIES:
- **TWO SPOTS LEFT ~ DOORS CLOSE 7/12!** September 15-17th ~ Sing, Dance, Pray: Romancing the Beloved at the Retreat Center at Lake Logan (photos above; 45 min. from Asheville, NC airport). Located on sacred land in the oldest mountain range in the world. Limited to 25 women leaders/creatives. Includes personal mentoring from Renee. Registration closes on July 12th; only two spots left! Learn more/register.
- Oct. 13-15th ~ Awakening Your Wild Soul: A Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Berkshire Mountains, MA). Packages start at just $635. Our most popular retreat of the year! Learn more/register.
- Wild Souls Nature Adventures (based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC): authentic movement classes, community song circles, full moon hikes, meditation workshops, women’s circles & more. New offerings listed each week; have me design a custom experience for your team/friends. Join us Sunday, July 9th for Wild Souls Authentic Movement near Asheville, NC. Learn more.
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/teams 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 450 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups/retreats 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; her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.