Learning when to listen and when to leap
Two weeks ago I was delighted to have two blog posts already written and ready to go. But in light of all that is going on in our country around racial injustice and policing, they seemed inadequate. After multiple unsuccessful attempts at other posts, I had to get quiet and listen – both to the voices of those most affected and to what is arising in me in response.
When I was first diagnosed, I leapt into action. Four days after confirmation of my condition, I was on a plane to Minnesota, for a two day appointment with an alternative cancer doctor. I did not spend a lot of time reflecting on my situation prior to that. In fact the first ten months of my healing journey, I did not do much reflection, but stayed in action trying all kinds of alternative modalities. I tried so many I think I overwhelmed my body. Three hospital stays over three months forced to stop my activity and go within, opening the space for me to take a deeper look at how I got there and what might be more helpful going forward. I learned much by being in action while also recognizing the benefits of a more mindful approach. Checking in with and listening to my inner guidance has become a core practice.
Leaping into action is warranted at times. The protests that have erupted across the country and the world are bringing long-overdue changes and hopefully paving the way for more, though not without detrimental side effects, especially intersecting with the COVID public health crisis. I am grateful to all those passionate people in the streets demanding change in peaceful ways. Prior to having a health condition that puts me at risk for COVID, I would have joined them. Taking action, I could feel good that I was doing something. Because I cannot safely be in public places now, I have the opportunity go deeper to reflect on what I am witnessing and learning. Being still allows emotions to emerge that I can avoid if I keep moving. But, I’ve also had times in my life where I was paralyzed by my emotions, or analyzing and overthinking my situation without taking any meaningful action.
Listening to black voices is giving me a much broader understanding of systemic racism and the ongoing, cumulative detrimental effects. I didn’t realize how much I needed to learn – not just with my head but with my heart. One of those voices is that of J. Nicole Ralph, a black Broadway actor and coach, who created a framework for engaging with the intense emotions many are feeling to channel them into effective action.
Her acronym C.R.E.A.T.E. stands for:
Claim that you feel something,
Recognize what the feeling is,
Embrace and really feel it,
Address it-use tapping, journaling, meditation, or any method that works for you,
Take Action on what the feeling is directing you to,
Educate & Engage with others about what matters to you
Since I am more comfortable with the last three stages, this is a great reminder to not bypass the first three. Then my actions have a greater chance of being grounded, clear of reaction and potentially more helpful.
Balancing Reflection & Action
card by Jane Norton
‘Reflection and action must never be taken independently.”
Pedagogy of the Oppressed
- Are you more comfortable with reflection or action or are you able to move between them both when faced with challenges?
- What feelings are arising in you in response to the images and stories of racial injustice?
- What steps in the C.R.E.A.T.E. process do you need more practice in?
In the last blog I introduced Tapping, which fits in the Address stage of the C.R.E.A.T.E. framework. Another version that is beneficial when my emotions are really intense is Touch & Breathe. As in acupressure, rather than tapping, you touch and hold each point while taking several breaths, also without words. This can de-escalate emotional intensity and bring you to a place where you can more effectively deal with your challenge. You can find a diagram of tapping points here.
To see and hear J. Nycole Ralph share more details about her C.R.E.A.T.E. framework, go to her Facebook post here. In addition to acting on Broadway, and directing her own show, she coaches entrepreneurs and artists to make their unique impact in the world.
Thanks to Gene Monterastelli, EFT teacher and practitioner, for sharing J. Nycole’s work through his Tapping Q & A podcast.