Ever read a sentence so profound it changes your life? Language is so powerful – it’s what separates and elevates us from the limitations of the animal kingdom and allows our world to keep developing at such a frantic pace. Language is the way we share and communicate ideas and progress – which generates unbelievable momentum. I love how a quote can encapsulate so much meaning in just one or two sentences – that just a handful of words can inspire a great change in an individual; a team; a company; a community; a nation. Our words contain so much power.
I’d like to share one of my favourite quotes of all time with you today. It’s from an incredible woman called Jill Bolte Taylor (Google Jill Bolte Taylor TED talk), the author of a fantastic book called “Stroke of Insight”. Jill, a top level brain scientist and researcher suffered a stroke in her 30’s and, with the detachment of a scientist, watched as her brain shut down its function bit by bit as the stroke progressed over several hours…motor function, the ability to recognize language, the ability to speak and so on. Her road to recovery was long and arduous but also one of incredible spiritual insight and breakthrough. She found that without the task-driven time-bound left hemisphere chirping on morning, noon and night she lived entirely in the calm and peace of the right hemisphere: a place of timeless connection, intuition and love. It’s an extraordinary story – I highly recommend you read it.
After her stroke Jill was able to perceive the world differently – she became highly attuned to the different energies people bring to situations. And that’s what I wanted to talk about today. I had a situation a few weeks ago – which involved some a very time pressured dash across Auckland to Henderson in rush hour, getting back and managing to miss my motorway turnoff, gahhhh!, getting lost, and generally getting myself into a right old stressed mess. The upshot of this saga was that when I finally arrived at my destination I took out my frustration on the lovely lady who was waiting for me. A grumpy tirade of pissed-offness greeted her the second I arrived to pick her up. A sea change from my regular light and breezy positive self, it’s fair to say she was a bit taken aback. “Bloody traffic” I ranted “I always get lost, I hate that about myself, I have no sense of direction. None at all! It’s so %^$^$* maddening. Now we are really late. I hate being late” Blah Blah Blah! I was indeed truly sweating the small stuff – but even more than that I showed up at a dear friend and colleagues house for a fun night out and just dumped a heap of pissed-off energy right at her door the instant I arrived. Like I say – I’m not proud of this!
What on earth was I trying to achieve? Could she retrospectively fix the traffic? Did she perhaps have a time machine she could pop us into and rewind the clock? Was she in fact a brain surgeon who could fix the pea sized area of my brain in charge of spacial awareness and that map thing of where you are going/where you have been that most people seem to have in their heads, but seems entirely absent in mine? Could she give me that all important but entirely absent sense of direction I was lacking?
I just showed up and dumped a load of pissed off energy at her door.
Once I got my head out of my own backside and computed that it was a) not her fault b) not really even my fault c) a truly small thing indeed to be sweating, I turned it round and apologized quickly. We changed the energy up and we had a really awesomely fun and connected night – but I stored it up to think through later. How could I handle an every day frustration situation like that better next time?
My mind immediately homed in on a quote by Jill Bolte Taylor I mentioned at the start of this article:
‘Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.’ Jill Bolte Taylor
Oh Jill. Where were you when I needed you in my ear earlier?
Everything about this quote is perfection.
“Take responsibility….” It was MY frustration. MY anger. MY lateness. I was trying to make my lovely friend somehow be responsible for it.
“Take responsibility…..” Facing reality was also a part of it. I was wanting the situation to be different that it was. I was wanting not to be late. I was wanting the traffic to have been better. I was wanting my internal GPS to work better. I was fighting reality. There is only one way fighting reality ends – I lose. I needed to take responsibility for what IS, and stop fighting it, or stop expecting someone else to fix it.
“….the energy you bring…”. It was ME bringing that energy of pissed-offness. I carried it in. I didn’t want to feel it and I was expecting the OTHER person to make it better somehow. To pick up what was mine.
“….into this space”. Every interaction we have is an opportunity to connect. To create a sacred interaction. To optimise that interaction. This was someone I cared about (who may or may not have had a great day herself) and I violated her emotional space with my own stuff without her permission. Had I handled it differently – maybe said “Hey, how are you? I’ve got something that’s bugging me that would really help me to talk through with you…would that be okay?” that would be one thing, but to have just unleashed a torrent of MY frustration in HER space without permission? Not okay. Not respectful of her emotional space.
The energy and intent BEHIND our words is as powerful, if not more powerful, than the words themselves. Every interaction is an opportunity to spread love, compassion, insight, kindness, strength, grace. Or it’s an opportunity to spread an energy of a completely different sort. Our energy is absolutely contagious – it is our power. We have the opportunity to uplift or downshift someone else with every interaction and communication. Me behaving like a two year old for five ranty minutes: not the sort of energy I want to broadcast out to the world. Not me standing in my power. It was a real learning for me – I KNOW how powerful my words and energy are – I see that in my coaching room and seminars every single day – I can lift people up in an instant – with the sheer force of my will and my energy and my intent. I don’t even have to think about it – it just happens. It’s a superpower we all have. It’s important though to use it judiciously, and on this occasion I absolutely didn’t.
I now have Jill’s words pinned on my wall – it’s the perfect reminder – that every interaction – every meeting, coffee catch up, dinner, shopping trip, phone call, text – every colleague, shop assistant, friend, family member, – every gathering and communication of every type – we have an opportunity to assess the energy we want to bring into it. To start it fresh with clean energy or to drag in what has happened previously from the rest of our day. To respect other people’s space in terms of their emotional and energetic boundaries and to adjust our sails accordingly. I can’t help but think that if we were all reflecting and acting on this principle more consciously and consistently what a different world this would be.
‘Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.’
– Jill Bolte Taylor
I’d love to hear about your favourite quote and what it means to you – do share below – or tell me what you think of Jill’s perspective below.