I not only love the word grace, I aspire to it. I’ve always been attracted to people who hold a certain kind of ease, presence and strength no matter what is going on around them.
It’s easy to cultivate grace when things are going well but man is it hard to find when the going gets tough. I know there are times when you might just want to “wring someone’s neck” or slam the door! The stress and the pressure of the situation are begging for relief. But yelling at or blaming someone is limited.
To help you rise above the anger and limited way of dealing with a difficult person or situation, I want to pass along a teaching that I learned. It’s an “easy to remember” way of being mindful in a difficult situation. I invite you to use the word grace as an acronym with the following thoughts:
G is for “Gathering your attention”:
Next time your son or daughter (or fill in the blank) is giving you a hard time, pause and focus your attention on your body, whether the breath or the sensation of your feet on the ground. Bringing your attention to the present moment, you can be more helpful to yourself and who is in front of you. You will offer a fresh presence that is stable, grounded, discerning, and caring.
R is for “Recall your intention”:
That is, recall your intention for being with this person. This will help you align your behaviour with your values and reignite your motivation. This will prime you to be caring and supportive.
A is for “Attune to yourself, your body, heart, and mind, before you attune to those around you”:
This is probably the most difficult for many of you. You are so used to, and perhaps believe that, tuning into the other person is more effective (or controlling, or safe). Attuning to yourself first lets you check in on your biases and what is arising in your body and mind at this moment. Then, sense what the other person is feeling (offer empathy) and how he or she is seeing the world. Take time to tune into what is happening. Are there any assumptions playing out that need to be clarified? Assumptions can also bias perspectives. Just notice any assumptions or biases and let them go.
C is for “Consider what will serve you and the other person”:
Take a moment to consider other factors that might be playing into the situation; environmental features, expectations, conflicting needs, and consequences.
E is for “Engaging or Enacting”:
Apply compassion-based action. It’s time to acknowledge inwardly and with the other person what has transpired and then move on, letting go of any lingering feelings that may keep you from being fully present for the next situation. And trust me, compassion-based action does not necessarily mean being light and fluffy. You can be compassionate with strength and certainty, the goal being connection, learning and growth.
For any of you who would like to move from reaction to response, try using G.R.A.C.E. to transform a sticky situation into a smoother solution.