Written by Sterre Overvest - Rainbow Tai Chi teacher trainee and Foundation Tai Chi Training Course student
At my Rainbow Tai Chi study I practice a lot with mirroring. Which means seeing the mirror in other people’s behaviour instead of blaming, judging and attacking them. When I am in a situation when I get hurt, feel irritated or annoyed with someone I go inside, tune into my heartbeat and see which part of myself is mirrored in the other. For example I have been struggling with bully behaviour at my job, but instead of reacting and fighting back all the time, I see if I can find a part of me who can be really unkind and like a bully. I see and realize that I can be a real bully (to) myself: not listening to my body, overeating, tiring myself, being judgmental and annoyed with putting on weight and so on. Sometimes I can also be mean or unkind towards others, being moody or judgmental if things are not going the way I want them to go and so on. It is human, you can’t always agree and things cannot always be sunny and happy.
So I turn within and realize and see that I have a part of me that is a bully, called: ‘the inner bully’ What? do I read this correct?
Yes! You do!
Yes! You do! Because when you point your finger to the other, there are three fingers pointing towards yourself. It is hard to explain how this principal works exactly, it seems strange and not making sense at all to you maybe, but it is helping me a lot. I feel so much more happier, healthier, more energizes and so much less negative in life. It is a real skill to develop and it is not something you can learn within a day, it is about little steps, one step at the time what my teacher always says. It is a choice how to be with negatives and behaviour from others projected on you, even though it is the other who is projecting, you have the choice yourself how to respond, how to be. Isn’t that amazing? Well I find it really interesting and inspiring to practice to see the mirror and I would encourage you to give it also a try! Seeing the other not as separate, see that the other person is you. If you are really able to do this I can ensure you, your life will be so much more fun and light filled!
To clarify: Seeing the mirror does not meant that you are always still and quiet and let people just walk over you all the time! No definitely not! There are always moments when standing up for yourself is really important - necessary even. Bringing in the truth, with love that is something I learn here as well, difficult sometimes but a lesson and gift for life to learn how to do this.
I cannot control the behaviour of others anyway. What I can control is my own behaviour and I can make a choice how to be with myself and with the situation.
It is all about balance and lots of practice, patience, falling and getting up again. It is a difficult thing to learn honestly and sometimes I feel like I don’t want to see any mirror, sometimes I just want to be mad or upset about things that are happening. I just want to because it is not fair! That is the voice that is talking in my mind! But I also realize very well that this is not helping me, not benefiting and it only feed negativity. I cannot control the behaviour of others anyway. What I can control is my own behaviour and I can make a choice how to be with myself and with the situation.
The (inner) bully at work
Sometimes my colleagues and I are not on the same page when it comes to care. This can bring me in a difficult position because I do really do care a lot and want the best for the elderly. But I also want to be part of the team and not seen as the whiner or the girl who thinks to know it all better. So it is searching for me, constantly, to the balance or saying things, or keeping my mouth shut. (seeing the mirror and bringing in the truth with love) As I shared before the Care Home where I work seems not to flow with my values and believes and the way I want to care.
A couple of weeks ago I was working at the care home and it was lunchtime. Everyone was sitting at the table but one of the residents was struggling and seemed confused. She tried to wiggle herself out her wheelchair but because she had a stroke she is half sided paralyzed and she does sometimes things because she is confused or has this kind of spasms. Just at the moment I wanted to walk towards her to ask her what was going own, I heard two of my colleagues saying to each other: ‘ oh she is doing it again, she does it un purpose! it is so annoying, this lady is driving me crazy, I truly hope she will fall on the ground, crack her head, this will teach her the lesson then hopefully’. The other was laughing and nodding his head.
I could not believe what I just heard! steam was coming out of my ears! It was not the first time that I’ve heard this kind of disrespectful attitude towards the residents and I was so done with it, I have had enough and I just needed to stand up now!
So without thinking really I shared out of an emotion and said I find this really rude of them, that it is not respectful and really unkind and I don’t think she does it un purpose (I have had this discussion already several times before) and that we are the professionals here, that we should behave like it. Not knowing that the word ‘Professional’ would chase me for a long - long time.
The day went and lots of jokes were made by the bloke (lets call him Dave that makes it easier) that I was sharing with earlier about the importance of being professional in this job. With all that he did, he was taking the piss out of me: “Look I am such a professional I have cleaned the commode properly, I have done this with so much profession’’ and so on. I did felt a bit annoyed but left it and just carried on with doing my job.
Later I came at work again and I saw to my horror that Dave was wearing a button: “My name is Dave and I am a professional” it said. Later on of my other colleagues also was wearing one. I felt really hurt and annoyed, but also surprised at the same time asking myself if I was dreaming? Did they really make a button to say they are professionals?
Instead of responding from my emotion I went inside, desperately searching for the mirror. Where is the inner bully?
How can I ‘be’ with this, what is wise to do. I felt it was important to ask for some clarification so I did. I asked why they made this and then she said they are just having this ‘inside joke’ and when I asked if I was the inspiration for this button she agreed and said they were not taking the piss, it was just a joke. I felt hurt in my heart and angry, so small and unseen, but what could I do? There is no point of shouting, saying that I don’t see the joke, nothing I can do to make a change really, it will only ‘feed their pleasure’. I said: okay well ass long as you don’t do it to take the piss out of me I am fine with it and faked a smile. Luckily I got the tools I learn here at the school. So instead of externalizing I go inside, be there for myself and thank myself for doing my best as my colleagues are clearly on a different page then I am.
Then today the top of the ice berg, I came at work and I was bringing a resident to the loo and then I heard Dave answering a question about who is on duty this moment and instead of using my name he said: It is me, Charlotte and ‘the professional’ then they start laughing and I was in shock. Did Dave told everyone about the fact I shared about the fact I find it important to be professional and is my nick name now ‘the ‘’professional’? Tears in my eyes and really shocked by what I’ve just heard I went on with doing my job. But I felt that it was time to change something! I need to stand up for myself, but how?
I felt scared and afraid of being more judged, more bullied or an easier pray to take the piss out. But being longer quiet will not help. So I decided to talk to the manager and find for a solution. But she had only time in the afternoon. The day went by and I had this insight that I will not talk to the manager, I will take the risk, take the step and share honestly with Dave that I feel really upset because of his behaviour and bring in the truth with love.
I took all the courage I could find and walked to Dave and shared that I feel upset about his ‘professional joke’. First he was joking further and continued but then I could not help it, but a tear streamed down my cheek. He looked at me, so shocked, not knowing how to be. He said: ‘Oh I am so so sorry I truly was not aware of the fact I was hurting your feelings, I thought we could have a laugh together about it. I have been going completely out of line and it was never my intension to hurt you! Not at all, I will miss you when you move to Spain and honestly I find you truly one of the most professional and loving carers who is working here in the home. I often even ask for your advice and I do not do this with others, I am so sorry.
He even thanked me for sharing this as he can learn from this as he was completely not aware of the fact he was hurting my feelings at all.
Then he gave me a hug and I truly felt his heart was opening fully. He shared he worked his whole life with guys and that that they always taking the piss, constantly, that is just the way of living and that he find it hard to work now in care with all this ladies, being the only man. Suddenly I saw how insecure and sensitive Dave is and that this behaviour is also coming from the need for love, attention and not knowing how to ‘be’. He even thanked me for sharing this as he can learn from this as he was completely not aware of the fact he was hurting my feelings at all.
Every day there is so much to learn and today especially. I feel happy and relieved, proud, that I took the step to practice to stand up for myself, to be open and share from my heart.
My Tai Chi practice is paying off, I become more strong and more able to stand up for myself, bring in the truth with love as I would never ever dare to do this a year ago. It is amazing and I feel still happy and humble to be able to study at the Rainbow Tai Chi School.