Among the many weird, marvelous and extraordinary things that happened at the Rally (Rally!), this one was possibly the most surprising.
After some badass spiral practice, I chose six questions and we let those questions be like stones skipping through water.
We scribbled furiously, documenting whatever emerged from the brain-scramble. From our mathematically-overloaded chaos-infused beautifully restructured minds.
And, among other things, this one VERY clear, very insistent sentence:
Not everything requires a response.
It kind of shook me up. If “kind of” = a lot.
To be clear! This is all me-talking-to-myself, yes? The responses are also me.
Me: Wait, what? WHAT?! WHAT?! What is that even supposed to mean?
Response: Not. Everything. Requires. A. Response.
Me: But that’s crazy. Also: that cannot possibly be true.
Response: And yet, not everything requires a response.
Me: *finds nearest fainting couch and collapses upon it dramatically*
Assuming truth and going from there.
Me: If not everything requires a response, what does this mean for me?
Response: Well, it gives you a lot of freedom.
It also gives other people a lot of freedom. They are sovereign beings. They can either deal with their stuff or not deal with their stuff.
It can actually be very respectful of you when you intentionally don’t respond.
When this lack of response comes not from avoidance or resistance but consciously recognizing that this is not something that needs to be responded to.
Me: Overwhelming resistance jumping on giant trampolines in my belly!
Response: Nu …? So what does the resistance have to say?
But everyone else does it.
Me: X always responds! Y always responds! Look at all these people I hugely admire who always respond to everything! How can I not respond?
Response: You are responding.
By determining that a response is not necessary. By respecting their sovereignty.
Not everything has to do with you or requires your attention or needs to be in your world. Part of not playing kindergarten teacher is practicing discernment about what gets to come in.
Sovereignty includes this certainty: knowing that not everything requires a response.
How do you know what needs a response?
Me: How am I supposed to know what does or doesn’t need a response?
Response: If it’s a hurt, sad, scared part of you, that always needs a response.
However, it doesn’t have to be an immediate one and it doesn’t have to be a jumping-in-and-helping one. You acknowledge your hurt and discomfort, and that is enough.
Me: And if people are upset with me or say hurtful things?
Response: If you are hurting, you interact with your pain around being misunderstood.
That is the response. The first response is to you. Always. If you choose to respond to them, you can choose if that happens internally or externally.
You can use compassionate communication with them to meet them with love. But that process can just as easily take place in your head or on paper.
After that, if you truly wish to respond out loud, you may do so. While still knowing it isn’t required of you.
If people hate me for not responding?
Me: What if people hate me because I’m not responding to them?
Response: Unless they’re trolls, they’re working through their own stuff anyway.
It is not your mission to be the acknowledger for every single person in the world. One of the things you model is how to acknowledge your own stuff and destuckify.
They can either use those tools or not. It’s up to them.
If they can’t handle it, that’s their stuff. If you’re bothered by whether or not people like you, that’s your stuff.
But what about …?
Me: What about how A says “every conflict is an opportunity”?
Response: Well, he is correct in a sense. There is truth in that.
And yet, not responding at times when no response is required of you is ALSO an opportunity for establishing the culture and for learning.
It’s actively, consciously not taking responsibility for other people’s stuff.
And that is part of what makes the culture you are establishing so brilliant, so safe, so grounded, so loving and so full of freedom.
Anyway, when has A ever been 100% right? He is never more than partially right, at most. So assume only-partial-truth by default, and then find what is true.
How do you find what is true?
Me: How do I find what is true?
Response: Part of you believes you absolutely have to respond to everyone in order to acknowledge them and set the culture. What is her hidden truth?
Me: That there is tremendous power in acknowledging things.
That when you acknowledge something you release the essence, just like I’m doing now. That love is what is given when you acknowledge pain.
And that when I consciously choose to not give something a response, this is also an acknowledgment, both internal and external. It’s like answering a greeting with a smile. Responding can happen on many different levels other than verbally.
But but but. Again.
Me: I still have this but but but feeling coming up.
Response: And what is feeling uncomfortable for you with this?
Me: Okay. So theoretically I can consciously choose the response of not responding. But then all this negativity is headed my way. I will be flooded in negativity.
Response: And whenever you remember that a) it is not yours, b) it has nothing to do with you, c) there is nothing you are required to do, it is transformed.
Look at how little you respond emotionally now when someone throws a shoe at you now compared to a few years ago. You have worked miracles.
How is this connected?
Me: Alright. How is this theme connected to my project of getting ready to announce the mindful, hilarious, intense, life-changing Week of Biggification in Asheville?
Response: You will know how to give people structures and space to have their own experience and work through it. Right now what is needed is this:
Me: I cannot wait. I love it when you say shit like that. Tell me what to do!
Response: What’s needed is this:
Continuing to have this conscious relationship with yourself. Resting. Saying no to things. Not responding to things. Rallies and mini-rallies and Rally-like things as a place to practice this. While wearing costumes!
Me: So basically … keep doing what I’m doing?
Response: But louder. More intentionally. More transitions. More actively recognizing the ways in which receiving supports you.
Taking care of yourself is a requirement, not something to consider thinking about.
Me: Tell me more about the power of not responding.
Response: People appreciate it when you hold back.
They will recognize that it is respectful of them and their process. They see it as modeling. They are intelligent enough to recognize that this is what you’re doing.
Your work is becoming more and more a meeting of equals. Caretaking and over-responding won’t be appealing, and you’ll encounter fewer people who want it.
Response: This “always-responding” is attractive to you because it was modeled for you your whole life. You were repeatedly taught that the “good” teachers and educators are ones who give of themselves, who put other people’s needs above their own and who are always care-taking.
You were not taught, explicitly or otherwise, that there are better ways to respect people’s sovereignty and to give them space to work things out on their own. If you give your people the techniques, the culture and the containers, and then challenge them to help themselves, they will.
This is all new to you so no need to be so hard on yourself. Of course this concept challenges you. It’s not part of the culture / vocabulary / training you grew up with.
Me: You’re right. I didn’t really get it before.
Response: You’re getting it now, and this is good because this will help the Week of Biggification be even more of a success in the world.
Me: What do you mean?
Response: The people who come there are going to do big and beautiful things in the world.
They will be part of EVEN BIGGER things than anything you can imagine.
And the reason they will be able to do this is that they will not have you as a crutch.
They will know their own capabilities because you have backed off.
They will trust themselves more. They will BLOSSOM through the experience of being treated as a capable, competent, sovereign being who knows her (or his) own heart.
You will show up with the pirate ship, with the magic, with the zaniness and the process and the tools … and they will have their own miraculous experiences that are not because of you but because of the way your essence and your radiance contribute to spaces in which anything is possible.
Response: Yes. Wow. This is really big stuff. You have no idea.
Me: So what happens next?
Response: You commit to practicing the art of not responding.
You say: “I am choosing to not have to respond. Because not everything requires a response.” That is your response.
Me: THANK YOU. This is crazy and awesome.
Response: Uh, okay. Glad to be of assistance by repeating back to you the stuff you know already.
And comment zen for today.
This is a tough subject, conceptually and really in every other way too.
It’s something I’m still working through, processing, assimilating, trying to wrap my brain around.
We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process. We let each other have our own experiences, we don’t give advice (unless someone wants some), and we meet ourselves with love. I adore all of you.
I hope you know that each of my posts here is a response to something. And that I am always responding to your you-ness with appreciation and sweetness, even when I don’t always do it out loud.