Chris, the father of two young children and the founder of Westslope Organics (www.westslopeorganics.com), recently told us about feeling taken advantage of and wronged, and his process as he dealt with that. Below, Chris writes about his process and insights about sharing this experience on social media.
Is it difficult to talk about love? It has been for me. I grew up in a culture where things like complaining about others was never questioned, and rarely challenged. But talk of love and appreciation was mainly confined to religious services and weddings.
In adulthood, I’ve worked to find the most positive ways to be in the world, and fully express them regardless of social or cultural norms. Practicing Love in Action has been a pillar of that effort for me.
Recently, I was asked to share my experience of Love in Action in the newsletter for John Records (www.johnrecords.com). The article was published, but when it came to sharing it with my entire social network of family, friends old and new, work colleagues – virtually everyone I know or have known – I got cold feet. Many of these people didn’t know me in that context. I’ve never shared that side of myself outside a small and comfortable circle of people.
But if I’m to bring what I believe to be positive change into the world, then sharing experiences that support others in their practice of Love in Action is one of the best things that I can do. There is no reason for love to be a taboo subject kept underground. So why did I have such a hard time sharing it?
I contemplated this question for some time, believing that I’d simply work through it. Still, the resistance lingered. So I did the only thing that I can think to do when I’ve come to an obstacle. I asked for help. A friend helped me work through some questions: “What negative consequences do you imagine would come from sharing?” “Do you really want to do it?” “Why?”
In this exploration, I found that it really comes down to vulnerability. Sharing such an important part of myself on social media felt like perching myself over the dunk tank, waiting for the pitches to be launched. It was simply unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar can seem daunting.
It was unnerving largely because my identity and image had a stronger grip on me than I realized. I was just fine being incognito with my spiritual side; no one had to know, I could just practice internally and let it express naturally. As it turns out, when love has its way with us it often finds surprising ways to express itself. As someone who has chosen to offer himself in service, the choice was clear. I would share my story, and see what happens.
When I finally shared, an interesting thing happened. I felt fully engaged with the part of me that feels and expresses love. I was buzzing with the satisfaction that I offered what I can, even before any feedback came through. In that way it was an immediate success, regardless of the response. As John says in his book Love in Action of difficult situations and difficult people, “When love has taken us over we don’t need to try to be patient with other people. The aspect of our character that gets impatient, annoyed or frustrated is deactivated when love has its way with us.”
Not only were there no negative responses to my post (this seems silly in retrospect), but I reconnected with old friends and coworkers, and even had some responses by readers who expressed how much the article had helped them. There was a definitive shift in the way I live in the world.
It seems to me that the on other side of vulnerability is openness and self-actualization (realizing your full potential). If I had gotten caught up in being able to reliably predict outcomes, I never would have shared my story. Past this edge from the familiar to the unknown is the domain in which fully living happens. I wonder what other ways of expressing myself in the world have yet to be explored.