You know I love sharing tools with y’all, right? This weekend I came across a doozy and it’s already changed my (emotional) life (and therefore my whole life). It’s a really simple tool. It’s a question you ask yourself whenever you get tripped up or are triggered. You know, whenever you just aren’t enjoying the state that you are in.
What is this amazing question? Lemme set the stage with a situation that happened to me and I’ll walk you through the whole process.
I learned the question Saturday, and then it already changed my life by Sunday. I was at a natural foods store in San Diego by Ocean Beach. (Yes, I’m beach name dropping!) I was perusing the kombucha selection (remember, I said “natural foods store”) with the door open to the glass case, had already put one bottle in my basket, then was about to go for my second bottle when a loud voice came into my ear and within a quarter second a whole person was now between me and the stock of kombucha. The word in my ear was “Excuse me” however the protocol of waiting for me to respond to that “request” was not followed and I felt spatially mowed down. I instantly withdrew into isolation and anger. Then the dude was so oblivious and tried to start a conversation with me about which kombucha was good, still blocking my access to the kombucha.
Has something like this ever happened to you? And you spend the rest of the day replaying options of things you could have said, just being upset, and having that short exchange ruin your whole day?
Anyway, I was fuming. A few scenarios ran through my head like, he’s one of those oblivious entitled people of the younger generation or an extrovert (I’m not suggesting extroverts or young people are necessarily oblivious or entitled). I thought of how I could reprimand him for getting in my space but I was too impacted by the disregard for my space. I was imagining some roundhouse kicks…
I grabbed my second bottle of kombucha, made my way to the cashier and got out of there ASAP. As I was feeling my body in a tense state from this experience and my head swirling and building with pressure, I luckily thought of the tool from Saturday, so I applied it and asked myself, “Why. This. Now?”
Yes, three simple words that make up a multi-emphasized question. Why? Why this? Why this now?
That was a good start to shift my mood, I was now in curiosity mode, instead of anger and victim mode. In getting curious about what exact element pissed me off, I landed on, “He didn’t respect my space.” I dug a bit deeper, “Why This Now?” I realized my space is very important to me. And since he didn’t actually touch me, it was all wounds to my emotional space, I determined my emotional space is very important to me. Now, I had missed doing my morning meditation that day, didn’t get through my morning routine, and my reserves were depleted. THAT’s why this guy’s actions irritated me so much, I had nothing to give, his abrupt actions threw me off.
Now, I know I always feel better when I meditate, and I know people get grumpy when they don't take care of themselves, but until this threat of loosing mastery of my space, I hadn't put together the pieces of how directly I cared about my space, how much influence I can have over it, and how I get to make a choice to champion it!
Why This Now? Because I needed a reminder how sacred my space is to me and I must protect it with a non-negotiable devotion in order to feel my best and show up in the world with a buffer so I’m not mowed down my someone’s interest in being chatty.
I’m the one who had disregarded my sacred space. I had passed on sitting still and connecting with myself. I was the oblivious entitled person who thought I could power through my day and not need attentive care.
Suddenly, my focus on being a victim and seeing this dude as a force against me dissolved. I no longer paid him any mind. His actions were actually no concern of mine. I had too much cleaning up of my own behaviors towards myself to worry about that.
I’d like to point out a fine line here, when you apply this tool, it’s not to let someone off the hook, but you’ll find that any discomfort is really a message to YOU to make some sort of shift in your life, something that will feel empowering and take you away from worrying about other people’s business. It’s such a nuanced thing. And it will take practice.
This tool is designed to shift your focus, from uncomfortable emotion to curious explorer. It's meant to shift your mode from victim to problem solver. It will alter your mindset from focusing on what's wrong to understanding that everything leads to joy!
So, give it a whirl. When you find yourself sad or angry or just noticing an uncomfortable tension in your body, take a few breaths and settle in to the question, “Why This Now?” Trace back steps throughout your day until you come across a tipping point of what set you up to be triggered at this moment.
What are you needing to be reminded of?