Superficial presence

Sometimes, I have imaginary arguments with people where I put thoughts into their heads and then I get angry with the way they are thinking and their attitudes. This usually happens right after someone has behaved in ways that I don’t like. I tell myself a story like: “he did that because he is self-centered, never thinks of anyone else, is lazy, thinks that he can just do what he wants no matter how it affects anyone else  . . .” and on and on and on until I am righteously and superiorly justifiably angry because we all know that I am perfect and never do anything that negatively impacts another. I am always thinking about others. I am all about other people. At least that’s my side of the story.

If you have been following these blogs, you know that my true motivation behind always thinking of others is that I have been programmed to do that so that I can get something from them.

When I confront people with my suspicions/accusations about how they are in the world, I realize that most of the times . . . well, okay, ALL the time they are unconscious and unaware of my interpretation of them and their behavior. They really had no clue. Imagine that.

People might change their behavior and they might not. I have no control over that. The only thing I can do is be in charge of how I respond to their behavior and who they are. I can either create a story in my head about them based upon their superficial behavior or I can let go of the story and bring my true presence to the moment.

If I only bring my superficial personality to the party, the only guests who will show up are the superficial personalities in others. There is an eternal presence in others—a presence who came here to unfold and become just as I did. If I let go of the story and my own superficial perfection, the silence opens up a space to connect with another’s true presence.

I wonder who I will find.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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8 Responses to “Superficial presence”

  1. holessence Says:

    “The only thing I can do is be in charge of how I respond to their behavior and who they are.”

    Barbara, I’m grateful for this wonderful reminder today – thank you!

    Laurie Buchanan

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Laurie — I find that taking my own advice helps open up space for the possibility that the other person will come as the best person he or she can be in the moment. And it reminds me to bring the best true me as well.

  2. Snoopykg1 Says:

    I sometimes find myself on the other side of the spetrum, being to serious than superficial. There are times when I think I am percieved as superficial because of this.

    Reacting is a challenge not to do in situations that hook us……

    The challenge is to be like a smart fish and not get hooked into a non-productive situation. Don’t take the bait!

    Great food for thought this morning…..


    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Kim. Yep, I know all about things that hook my rebellion, my righteousness, my holier-than-thou, etc. If I can be mindful of bringing my true presence to an encounter, though, I find I don’t get hooked.

  3. Gil Says:

    Hi Barbara,
    I’m amazed by the synchronousity (how the heck is syncronicity supposed to be spelled?) of your blogs in my life.
    You have become my guru! lol.
    Let me tell you a story… you can delete if you feel it is not appropriate here in your space.
    Last week Thursday I was in a class. The course is about professionalism in the counselling relationship. The format is a small tutorial group facilitated by two fourth year students as part of their practical sessions. We did some role-play exercises to do with the beginning phase of the counselling process (seeking introductions, outlining outcomes, discussing confidentiality issues, etc.) We had reached the end of the session and one of my fellow students asked the facilitators if they they would model a typical example for us. The one said that they would not, without giving a reason. This is like a red flag to a bull to me! I usually try to stay under the radar in this particular class, as I sensed/was told in the first session that the facilitators did not want my input. Anyhow I asked “why not” and got something along the lines of “because I said so”. She then proceeded to try to embarrass me in front of the class to regain some kind of perceived power or control over the class. I was saved by a Vervet Monkey jumping through the window onto her. This obviously disrupted the whole class and brought the session to an end.
    After writing this, I realize that I am afraid of this woman and the power she has to give me bad marks and I have allowed her to bully me into not expressing my true self.
    I will never know the reason why she feels it necessary to engage with me in this way. I need to find a non confrontational way of disallowing her from bullying me. Any thoughts? My first instinct is always flight not fight…
    love Gil

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      First, Gil, I wish I had a Vervet Monkey to rescue me just once from any situation (embarrassing or otherwise). You are really connected! There are a couple of things you can do with situations like this. One, you can change the story about what is really going on. If you were behaving like this woman, what would be going on inside of you? Or, become her viewing you. What about you would threaten her? Two, you can show up with no story at all (I will be writing about “not knowing” in a few minutes). Connect with the person/presence who you know came here to grow and stay in the moment. Anytime your thoughts start telling a story about what is going on, just come back to breathing and being in the present. A third way would be to gently confront her such as quietly saying in private, “you know when you do X, I feel X.” You might start off the conversation with letting her know how much you enjoy the class and how much you are learning, especially about yourself. And this is one thing that has come up. Since it has come up, you are ready to deal with it (even though you may not want to). It is right there in your face saying “deal with me.” If you don’t, that’s okay, too. There will be other occasions where your flight, not fight, will engage and opportunities to work with it. Any work you do now on it will help so don’t feel like you have to fix the entire response. Let me know how it goes.

  4. Gil Says:

    Thank you for your considered response. I have previously tried method 3 and 1 in that order. (I have been on this course since February and our sessions are once a week) Today I tried method 2 and remained true to myself. I stopped telling myself stories and just allowed events to unfold. There was a positive energy in the class and everything seemed to just flow naturally. I need to tell you that I am reading your advice after the class, but sensed your support and presence at the time. What I am trying to say is that I felt a connection to you and your intention to help and support me before I actually read your reply. I hope that does not sound bizarre to you.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Gil — I told you that you were connected (I wonder who the Vervet Monkey really is — whoever he or she is, it is defintely someone trying to get your attention). I don’t think it is bizarre at all. On (technology, entertainment and design), there are speakers who are absolutely wonderful. One is Jill Bolte Taylor who talked about “My Powerful Stroke of Insight” — her experience during a stroke confirms for me what I already suspect: we are all connected in ways our left brains cannot imagine.

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