The View from the Balcony

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and instead of enjoying the beginning of our weekend together, we were in the middle of a heated, spiraling argument with all that goes with it: raised voices, angry looks, accusations and defensiveness, finger pointing, blaming, ultimatums, and failing attempts to make the other person believe that our viewpoint was the right one. It was quickly headed where all the other past arguments about the same old opposing perspectives had landed before—in a silent standoff. And then, I had an inspired moment; that moment when we see the situation through our proverbial “third eye;” that moment when you rise above your primal, amygdala-controlled, reptilian pea brain and rise up from the messy battleground to “the balcony” and become the objective observer. I saw myself. I saw my Tom. I saw us both needing something important to each of us—one of us needing understanding and acceptance, one of us fighting for recognition of an important personal boundary, both of us deeply committed to each other’s happiness but failing miserably in the moment.

How could I even be here? I TEACH this stuff! Where was all my wisdom and years of study and training? Where was my “flow” state? What happened to my ARCH conflict framework? Why was I yelling at the love of my life from a solid victim mindset? Geez.

From the balcony, we can disconnect from our primal state of fight, flight, or kill and easily see the futility of our current posture and positioning. In the balcony is the only place where real growth can begin in terms of how we manage disagreements and conflict productively. From the balcony, I could see that I wasn’t really listening or employing empathy. I wasn’t calmly stating what my boundary was and why it was important to me. I certainly wasn’t suggesting any rational ideas to solve our problem or bridge our divide. I wanted to win, not find a win-win. From the balcony, I could see that my emotions had overtaken my rational brain and my heart. In the balcony, I can make the shift and then descend back down into the ring and do much better.

The miracle is that, for me, once I go up above the fray, the transformation is almost instant. I can feel almost immediate access to a different part of my brain—the more useful space of empathy, emotional control, clarity of thought, creativity, and love. Once I have access to this, I can come back into the conversation and practice everything I know, everything I’m committed to doing and being, and getting what I really want—a win/win for both of us.

This week, practice with the small things that bug you. Practice noticing when you’re agitated, frustrated, or annoyed. Practice taking a breath and rising up to your balcony where you can be an impartial observer of the situation, where you can disconnect from the emotionally-threatened brain and reconnect to the emotionally-intelligent one. I promise that everything looks, feels, and is different from the balcony view.

“The most profound personal growth does not happen while reading a book or meditating.  It happens in the throes of conflict when you are angry, afraid, frustrated.  It happens when you are doing the same old thing, and you suddenly realize that you have a choice.”

~ Vironika Tugaleva

Comments

    1. Thanks, JK. It really is true, isn’t it? (Don’t ask me how I know… :))

    1. Thank you, Tiffany. I’m so pleased you found it relatable. I really want everyone to know that we’re all in this together! Thanks for writing.

  1. I really needed this today – and to realize there is no change with no change!
    With gratitude for sharing a personal story that is relatable.

    1. Oh Lori, these are the best kinds of comments for me. I’m so happy that you got the exact message you needed at the exact moment you needed it. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. These Monday Morning stretches really matter…this is a particularly rich one.
    Thank you!!
    Now how can I make this a habit?!

    1. You made my day, Carolyn. It means so much to me to hear that our readers and subscribers find real value in these blogs and that this one really spoke to you. Making it habit is a challenge for everyone… including me! Keep at it. It makes a difference.

  3. Loved this reminder! What a great mental image, make your way to the balcony where you can take a deep breath & gain some perspective. This image is going to stay with me for a long time.

    1. Annie, thank you for writing! I love the mental image too and am happy to hear that you’re committed to using it for yourself in the future. Happy Monday!

      1. I always love your Monday Morning Stretch. This one was so powerful! Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal! Your transparency speaks volumes about your character and heart to encourage others in hard situations. Katherine, you are a bright shining light, I appreciate you.

  4. It’s amazing what can happen when we remove our emotions from a situation! Thank you for the reminder!

    1. Thanks, Janet! Its so true. Thanks for taking a moment today to write your thoughts to me. It means a lot.

    1. Thank you, Brenda. I’m so pleased that you appreciated the “balcony” perspective. Thanks for being a subscriber for so many years!

  5. I always love your Monday Morning Stretch. This one was so powerful! Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal! Your transparency speaks volumes about your character and heart to encourage others in hard situations. Katherine, you are a bright shining light, I appreciate you.

    1. Thank you, Kim. It’s so good to know that my weekly musings for all these years are not only being read but actually making a difference in people’s work and life. Your comment means the world to me. Thanks for taking a moment to write your thoughts to me.

Leave a Comment