When I was thinking about the practice of breaking patterns, I thought of something that often happens when there’s a breakthrough; there’s a shift. Something that kept happening in a loop, perhaps “à la soupe du jour” but a soup nonetheless, suddenly has a different outcome.
Life lessons sometimes come back to check on you. They swing by to allow us to integrate the lesson from a different perspective. To show us that we’ve grown, we’ve learned or that we’ve rediscovered something about ourselves we thought we’d lost or had simply forgotten about.
A childhood lesson of mine visited to see how I’d handle “speaking up” situation.
I was working on a project and the person who was overseeing it made a decision impacting me that surprised me. And not the good kind. I felt punished, treated unfairly and didn’t understand why the event was happening to me or why this person had made the decision they made. I’d even wondered how I’d done them wrong and started taking their decision personally.
I came home ranting that day. My partner and my mom both expressed sympathy but they both, in their way, asked if I had a say in the decision that had been imposed upon me. I told them it’d been imposed on me and I thought I hadn’t had the “opportunity” to say anything, realistically.
Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. I sat with this.
The following day, I brought my concerns to this person and shared my feelings of disappointment in their decision. I tried to negotiate. At first, it seemed my arguments were not going to provide resolution or change this person’s mind, but at least, I knew that I had spoken my peace. Later that day, this person returned to see me and told me that someone else* had raised the same concern I had, and since we were of the same mind, the person overseeing the project had decided the decision had a broader impact than what was originally considered. And the strangest thing happened: the person changed their mind (in my favour!).
I felt my faith in people being restored. I felt there was justice. I felt supported. Surely enough, I expressed my sincere gratitude to both persons (the supporter and the decision-maker).
When I came home, feeling victorious and fortunate, I happened to share this outcome with my mom, who reminded me of a lesson I learned in kindergarten.
As we all sat around in class learning our colours, we were being asked to name the colour to which the teacher was pointing. I was named in no particular order and out of surprise, I blurted out the wrong colour: “Brown!” (it was grey). My teacher immediately moved on to another student, although she’d given everyone else a second chance. I came home feeling defeated and down on myself. I was five and I was a failure! “Mom, I am stupid, I don’t know my colours!”
After some coaxing, my mom got the story out of me. I made a mistake and I didn’t get the same chance as everyone else. I experienced a small-time injustice. My mom proceeded to show me, through an exercise, that I did in fact know my colours (in English and French!). She restored part of my self-confidence. She calmed me down and asked me how I thought I could resolve this with my teacher. We concluded that I needed to explain how what happened made me feel. I was so scared!
The next day, I went to school and I asked my teacher if I could speak with her at recess (picture a tiny 5-year old asking to speak with you with a solemn look on her face and a crimped side ponytail – that was often my look back then). I took deep breaths and I explained that I knew I’d made a mistake but I felt like I didn’t get the same chance everyone else did. She hadn’t realized what she did or that it had hurt my feelings. She was so surprised that I didn’t get it the first time – me being a model student – that she moved on. She didn’t even realize that she took a chance away from me by doing so. Her expectation of my usual abilities and my experience of the situation were worlds apart.
My teacher apologized for treating me differently and for hurting my feelings (which caused me to question my abilities). Fortunately, she wasn’t an ego-driven adult and she loved her teaching job. In other words, she was receptive. She told my mother she was impressed with my judgment, my communication and my courage. Who knew?
Years later, as a twenty-something adult, the childhood lesson paid me a visit because I’d had my abilities questioned and I’d been treated unfairly. Along the way though, I’d lost faith in finding people like my kindergarten teacher. I’d lost faith there was someone brave inside my shell who believed in speaking up. I’m happy life’s proven me wrong. There are people who listen and I am brave. So are you.
*I’m underlining here that the belief I now hold about support is taking shape. See my earlier post on Manifesting.