Lead With Love

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There I was strolling down Regent Street after a class at Psycle London. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about commuting in this city, it’s that patience doesn't exist and walking down any crowded street is a little like survival of the fittest - may the most aggressive Londoner win.

I didn't have my game face on. I was in no rush and so distracted by my free smoothie for hitting the milestone of 25 rides that I almost didn't see him coming until I'd already been bumped. Actually more like body checked, in the arm so hard by a man in a very nice blue suit that my smoothie went flying. He was moving so fast that it took him a few strides to even turn around to see me crouched on the sidewalk collecting my cup - leaving the remnants of my smoothie reward splattered all over the street. 

He yelled 'sorry'. 
I said 'it's okay' with a face that completely contradicted my words
We went in our own directions and as I turned my back to him I rolled my eyes and thought ugh, what a jerk

Then I heard it. The yoga voice in my head piped up - it was one of those little moments where I'm reminded that this practice works. Is he really a jerk? I have no idea where he's going, why he's rushing or what kind of stress he's under. It's definitely possible that he's just frantic, going about his day as he always does and taking out whoever slows him down in the process. But for all I know, he could be late for the most important meeting of his life or rushing to meet someone he loves or he could have just been on the receiving end of some horrible news. Instead of labeling him a jerk, I could just as easily give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he body checked me - yes I'm being dramatic - for a reason. 

With one little shift in my perspective I'm no longer angry at the blue suit man. In fact, I actually feel sorry for him. My day moves forward in a positive direction. I stroll along emotionally unscathed by the outside world.

I call it leading with love.

If that's a little too 'woo woo' for you, just call it giving people the benefit of the doubt. It's not revolutionary and it's really not that hard as long as you continuously remind yourself that this is your intention. It feels so much better and is so much healthier than holding onto whatever negative emotions someone else's actions triggered in you. It benefits others because let's face it, it makes you a nicer person. But the person who benefits the most is you. You're protected from all of the crazy energy that comes at you every single day from sources outside yourself.

I get that this is not a life altering example. It's pretty easy to recover from a smoothie attack by a rushing stranger. Way worse things have happened and those are the moments in your life where this concept becomes even more important. You practice it with the little things that trigger you so when the big stuff comes along, you're prepared. 

do you choose to see the good in people even when they show you their not so nice side?

Yes, it's easier said than done. We're all familiar with the gut reaction you feel when someone is totally losing their mind on you. You take it personally and in the heat of the moment you go into protection mode. If you're anything like me, you cry. Some of you probably shout back. Some of you shut down and when it's all said and done you walk away, replay the interaction over and over in your head and make it mean something about yourself by taking their words to heart.

Yes, we should pay attention when people give us feedback and criticism if they're acting like a rational adult. But when you're on the receiving end of someone who isn't, it's crucial to lead with love and remember that how they're treating you could very well have nothing to do with you. 

You can't be everything to everyone. Inevitably there are going to be people that don't like you, your service, your classes - whatever it might be. In most cases, they'll just go on their way and you won't see them again. In some cases they may give you some feedback through a normal 'grown up' exchange which is a great learning opportunity for you. In rare cases, they may lose their shit.

And in these moments, we'll call them 'leading with love' lessons, your job is to remember that you have no idea what has happened to this person to get them to this point. You don't know where they've just come from or where they're headed. You have no idea what kind of loss, heartbreak or sadness they're struggling with in their life. You have no idea what kind of stress they're under. Maybe what they're feeling is so overwhelming and built up that they had to let it out and you just happened to be in the line of fire at that very moment. 

And yes, the realist in me has to point out that it's also possible that they're just a jerk and weren't taught to treat people the way they want to be treated (thanks Mom). Well then, you still lead with love. You feel compassion towards them and how horrible it must feel to go through every single day in such a miserable state.

The next time you find yourself triggered by a tough interaction or like I was on the street thinking, ugh what a jerk about a stranger, remember this simple little lesson of leading with love. It's the easiest way to protect your energy and keep your spirits up when life or other people are trying to tear them down. You have no idea where they've come from or what they're going through.

Oh and also, always remember to hold your beloved smoothie tight while walking in public.