I’ve learnt through my good friend Peter Cook that one of the novice vows you make as a Monk is ‘Ahimsa’. Which is one of non-violence. It’s not to injure others or yourself, to have compassion for others and yourself. There is so much about this vow that I love. Kindness to self is a catalyst for kindness to others and vice versa. And that’s all well and good but how the hell do you live like that? Opps…can you talk about hell and Monks at the same time?
I’ve just finished Michelle Obama’s autobiography; ‘Becoming Michelle Obama’. I’ve always been impressed by her dignity and grace. Especially under constant fire that comes with running for office and then to become the First Lady.
I found it painful reading how much the media, and public turned on her based on things that were not real. When her and Barrack went to meet Queen Elizabeth, Michelle wore a tailored dress and a cardigan. She looked elegant and understated. The public decided she didn’t make an effort and that it showed absolute disrespect.
When Michelle spoke her passionate speeches during the election campaign about the changes she and Barrack were committed to make, the public and media, decided she was ‘harsh and cold’. Her lack of smiles and her ‘too serious face’ meant they did not trust her words.
How quickly we judge others based on things we do not know. Michelle was coming from a place of compassion and heart and many crucified her intent. How do you keep the voices in your head at bay then? When others are turning on you and judging you as something you are not?
I loved the story of the night they were waiting for the 2nd term election results. She was on the 3rd floor of their home back in Chicago, to be with their family and friends. Michelle turned off all TV’s and didn’t check her phone. She wanted to hear the results from her people – not the press. After a couple of hours of being calm and waiting, while getting ready for the post-election events, she couldn’t wait any longer. It was getting to her. She shot some messages out to her staff and family. What’s the news? She heard back nothing. Fifteen minutes later her head started to throb. She was accustomed to dealing with negative thoughts – the job was full of them. But this time it was getting on top of her. The silence grew louder and now she was convinced the news was bad.
People were avoiding her. There was little to no eye contact. And the maybe’s set in. Maybe we should have worked harder. Maybe we didn’t deserve another term.
Just as she was about to pass out from anxiety Barrack came up the stairs and told her that it’s basically done and they were in again. They were good enough.
Your mind plays terrible tricks on you. Even those that are accustomed to dealing with negative stuff. The thing is, our mind will always feed us negative stuff. In fact, over 85% of our thoughts on average do not serve us or others. Your mind can be your superpower or your iddy biddy shitty committee.
That doesn’t make us unkind or lacking in compassion. It makes us human. It’s what we feed that counts.
Yes Michelle did struggle at times with the false claims made about who she was, and what she believed. But she chose to rise above it. The vow of Ahisma is also about that. It’s about saying…I see those thoughts but choose not to feed them. Towards myself and others.
How good is that?! Pete and Michelle (coz I know her so well now ) are gorgeous examples of this. I want to be the same. I’m getting there yet I will never get there. And that’s ok too. No violence to self right?!
Are you choosing this path or do you keep feeding the iddy biddy shitty committee?
If you want to read more about Georgia’s insights into what we tell ourselves and why, then click here to order your copy of her first best selling book ‘Fixing Feedback’