I’m walking down the aisle, trying to balance the bag on my shoulder so it doesn’t bang anyone in the head as I struggle to navigate the small suitcase on wheels along the narrow path to my seat on the plane. I feel harried and agitated by the time I locate my aisle seat, 21c.
Ugh! There’s a rather large man in the middle seat, taking up part of mine. I smile politely as I reach over and pull down the arm rest to ‘mark my turf’ and create some semblance of personal space. He pulls his arm as across his chest, trying to make himself smaller. I feel a twinge of self recrimination. Remnants of old conditioning I call “toxic niceness” (making other people’s feelings and comfort more important than mine).
I whip out my iPad, ready to play boggle or scrabble to help pass the time. I can’t help but notice the man beside me is shaking. I tune in and observe through my peripheral vision. Hmph. It’s either Parkinson’s or he’s a drug addict, my inner judge quickly surmises.
Back to my game.
I can’t help but notice his knees touch the back of the seat in front of him. He is hugging himself tight trying to contain his size. I feel a wave of compassion warming my chest and melting the defensive barriers that I wasn’t even fully aware of a few moments before.
As the plane taxis down the runway, he is squeezing his right arm with his left to try to control the increasing tremors. I am now curious and empathetic. I can’t help myself.
He feels compelled to address the now obvious elephant in the room and engages me in conversation, explaining that he hates to fly (his wife usually flies with him) and the nervousness is aggravating a condition that has been perplexing the doctors since his cancer treatment. “It’s not Parkinson’s, they say, but they don’t really know what’s causing it. It definitely gets worse when I’m stressed.” (omg, now I really feel bad for my earlier presumptions!)
His willingness to be vulnerable, not only created an opportunity for us to connect powerfully and authentically, it allowed me to change the way I was viewing him!
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” ~ Wayne Dyer
I asked if I could share something that might help. He agreed and by the time the wheels were up I had him tapping on the acupuncture points on his face and upper body to calm his nervous system. It worked! The tremors got less and he said it felt good and it made him more relaxed.
We went on to have a deep and meaningful conversation about dis-ease, relationships, business and spirituality. We acknowledged the synchronicity of us sitting beside each other on the flight that day. I walked away feeling richer for the interaction and I trust he did too. He asked for my business card.
I remember reading in ‘A Course in Miracles’ years ago: “Every encounter is a Divine encounter”. What if we could remember that on a daily basis? How might it change the way we interact with each other?
I’m grateful for that encounter with the “gentle giant” I met on the plane. It helped me to notice – then drop – the walls of separation unconsciously put in place by conditioned statements like “don’t talk to strangers” . Which was really helpful, since I was on my way to a conference to connect with many “strangers” 🙂
These unconscious barriers are the very things that block our ability to connect with potential clients, to receive abundance, to feel joy, excitement and gratitude. I have come to see that mindset (your thoughts and beliefs about yourself, others and life) is responsible for 90% of your success. Strategy is about 10%.
How many times do we make an assumption about someone based on their appearance? (as I did on the plane the other day). This can be such a barrier to true connection which is a killer of sales. We all know that people buy from those they know, like and trust.
Your thoughts and beliefs determine your emotional response, your expectations, your actions and ultimately your ability to succeed. You can’t have an attitude and hide it. Even if you do have a good poker face your energy field is broadcasting it!
That is why it is so important for us to become aware of the beliefs we have, that are not aligned with what we are trying to achieve or create. So often we have “one foot on the gas and one on the brake” and wonder why we are not getting ahead!
So as you make your way through your week, be aware of your reactions and responses to those you encounter. Be open to letting your observations serve you by leading you to explore the beliefs that create those responses. After all, we can’t change what we can’t see!
As always, I love to hear from you. What did you notice? Leave a comment below.