If you keep up with our posts, this one may seem like a do-over. Yes, I’m talking about presence of mind again. Yes, being in the moment is of the utmost importance. Yes, the present is a “present.” I’m going to put a little bit of a spin on this one, though, trust me.
With this post, I want to talk about presence in terms of mastery of our energy and how we present to the world. In terms of self-care, how you feel about yourself is easily more important than how others feel about you. However, to pretend that the way we are received by those around us has no connection whatsoever with how we feel about ourselves would be completely disingenuous. Additionally, there are patterns that we establish in our lives when we are not aware of (or in control of) the kind of energy we’re putting out.
Here’s an example… I have two friends who have the same exact problem. Almost every single time they go to eating establishments, the server or cashier gets their order wrong. Nearly every time. It’s pretty amazing to watch because - in regular, non-restaurant life - both friends are delightful, intentional and super intuitive but as soon as they get into an eating establishment all of these things go out of the window for two, very differing reasons.
The first friend - let’s call her “Meek" - lowers her volume to a barely audible amount when she orders. She avoids eye contact, looking down or to the side as she mumbles out what she wants. In some cases, I’ve cringingly watched as the server asks her to repeat herself - and my friend gets quieter. Other times, I’ve casually repeated the order loud enough for the server or cashier to save face (“Oh!!! The nicoise salad?! That sounds amazing!”). Most times, however, the harried server takes off and comes back with something completely different than what Meek ordered and we start the “I didn’t ask for that” dance.
The second friend - we’ll call her “The Sergeant” - is on the opposite end of that spectrum. She speaks at a good volume and makes eye contact but fires off her order at lightning speed while adding a ton of modifications and changing her mind as she goes. She doesn’t double check to make sure the server heard her and when they ask questions, she says “never mind” and changes back to a previous modification. Her favorite words to say as the waiter walks away is “They’re going to get it wrong, just watch.” It’s almost as if she’s playing a game with the restaurant staff. Unfortunately, with this game, everybody loses. The server, my friend, anyone joining her for dinner, the establishment itself… everybody.
In both cases my friends would say (and have said) the fact that this constantly happens, has nothing to do with them. “She must be deaf,” Meek always says (I’m laughing as I type this because… *le sigh*). The Sergeant just chalks it up to the incompetence of waitstaff these days. Again, both women are great people and very good friends but both are not aware, whatsoever, of the energy they give off.
I love using restaurants and particularly waitstaff as examples of how the universe works because it’s practically the perfect analogy. The universe gives us what we order. It gives us things through the use of people, objects, coincidences, situations, opportunities, etc. Whatever is in existence can be used by the universe to give us our blessings. However, if we’re presenting orders quietly or creating impossible odds, we can’t expect to get what we want. Or if we do finally get what we want, it will be a laborious, long-awaited affair that wasn’t worth the wait.
Okay, so what does all this have to do with the way we present ourselves? A lot. Being aware of our presence (our tone, use of space, pretty much our overall energy) can be the difference between getting exactly what you want and people “getting you f*ed up.” In some cases it will show you your true intention in the first place. To go back to my example, my friend The Sergeant, often seemed like she was so focused on the server messing up her order that I wondered if she WANTED them to. (Needless to say, I avoid restaurant outings with her.)
So how do we become aware of how we’re coming across? If you don’t know where I’m going with this, you’re new here. Mindfulness through meditation can be an invaluable tool toward self awareness. By being intentional about how we present ourselves to the world, we can take some of the guesswork out of how we’re being received. Of course not every misunderstanding can be self-diagnosed away (for example, as a black woman I have to just be at peace with knowing that some people are going to misinterpret my very presence as an act of aggression) but it never hurts to do a quick check in with ourselves, especially when dealing with others. Recognizing patterns is the key.
That said, let’s move through the month of July with full awareness of our presence and how it affects our lives.