When we are aware of our internal experience, we can respond appropriately to whatever is happening around us. I find this reminder most useful in stressful situations: when I’m most able to notice what’s happening inside me in the moment, I’m best able to respond to the situation or person I’m dealing with in the most efficient or productive way.
I recently had the opportunity to practice Self-awareness and response when I was on the phone with my telephone service provider. I’d had on-going intermittent but unreproducible issues with my phone line, and I’d called Customer Service repeatedly to find a resolution to the problems. After being transferred for the countless time and once again being asked by the busy service rep to explain the situation, I began to really pay attention to my internal experience.
I noticed a surge of energy building in my abdomen. I noticed my throat constricting and heating up. I noticed dryness in my mouth and perspiration above my lips. It was as if a rage were building inside me, preparing for explosion.
But in addition to these sensations in my physical body, I also became aware of my emotional and energetic experience. As I explored the feelings further, I realized I was not angry per se. More accurately, I was feeling unheard and unseen, powerless and dismissed, unimportant and insignificant.
I knew I could easily let the rage explode and just start yelling at this Customer Service woman … or I could implode and meekly skulk away from the interaction. But what I really wanted was to regain my sense of personal power and control, and to feel heard.
Ironically, simply becoming aware of my sense of powerlessness helped me regain my sense of personal power. The Customer Service people were not responsible for my feelings — they didn’t reach through the phone and take my personal power. The control was always within me, and as I acknowledged my feelings and reconnected with my internal experience of personal power, I realized that how I responded (vs. reacted) to my feelings of helplessness and powerlessness were really my choice. Sure, I could yell and slam the phone down and maybe I’d feel better for a moment. But I also was unlikely to get my problems resolved any faster, so I’d probably actually end up feeling much worse.
So instead of yelling at or withdrawing from the Customer Service person, I took several deep breaths and said to her that, while I understood she was just trying to fix my problems as fast as possible, I also felt she wasn’t actually hearing what I was saying. It also seemed that connecting with her as a person rather than just as a faceless representative of a monolithic company further helped me feel empowered to explain my experience.
In the end, she admitted that she didn’t know what the answer was and would have to research it further. I shared with her that, even though I knew my problems would remain for the time being, I felt this communication had been the most efficient and productive of all so far. But somehow, I felt that even if she hadn’t changed her position or presentation, my choice to respond appropriately to my internal experience made the difference in how I experienced my interaction with her.
So I’ll invite you: the next time you find yourself frustated with Customer Service, ask your Self, have I given up my personal power? Am I feeling victimized? Have I somehow allowed myself to believe that this person (or this company, or this situation) has “taken control over me”? You may be surprised at what you notice … And if you do find you’ve abdicated your personal power and control, ask your Self how you can reclaim it!
I welcome hearing your questions, comments, and experiences.