One of the wildest things anyone ever said to me was that you’ll know you’re below the line (triggered and reactive) when IT seems serious. Kathlyn Hendricks, PhD is the one who said it and when she did I thought she was crazy.
At that point in my life I was in the midst of a custody battle (it felt like a life and death battle to me) for one of my children. I had just started a new business and was uncertain about its future and mine and I was in a new and still forming relationship with my wife Debbie where we were determining what commitments would form the basis of our relationship. All of this didn’t just seem serious to me, IT WAS SERIOUS. I could have told you all the reasons this was serious. It involved my children, security and my marriage. These are serious things, I was certain of that.
So what do we mean when we say, “From a distance nothing is serious” (Commitment #9 of the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership)? What we mean is that what makes things seem so serious is that our ego is making them personal. Now when you hear that you probably say, as I did years ago, “It IS personal.” What we mean by the ego making something personal is that the ego is making whatever we are taking seriously mean something about our ultimate approval, control and security. These are the three big wants of the ego, the three things the ego believes it must have to survive. The trick is that the ego believes these are always lacking and that we need to go somewhere or to someone or something to get approval, control and security.
As we practice conscious leading and living over time we start to see that there is actually a constant supply of approval, control and security and that nothing and no one can threaten that. We calm down and start to experience imperturbability at the basis of our identity. Everything isn’t a threat to our wanting of approval, control and security and as a result everything isn’t so personal and serious.
Also, when we say “from a distance nothing is serious” we mean from the distance of time and space. The reason things seem so serious is that we lack the perspective of time and space. Just think of something that seemed really, really serious to you two months ago, two years ago or twenty years ago. From the distance of time nothing seems so serious. What you are making so serious right now won’t seem so serious twenty years from now. Is the review you just got last week from your boss or your child’s “C” or your dented new car really going to be serious twenty years from now?
Also, from greater spatial distance nothing is quite so serious. Take just a minute to imagine yourself looking at earth from space. See this blue spinning ball and imagine it filled with 7 billion other beings. Find the identity that bears your name amidst all this and from this great distance does your issue, that seems so serious to you, really look that serious? For most people the answer is no.
The practice of conscious leadership is learning to source approval, control and security from the inside and learning to develop time and distance perspective. The result is things become less serious and we are less triggered.