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June 2012: “Explore an ‘upset is optional’ attitude”

This month’s practice is inspired by a core teaching of Tai Sophia Institute - one that can profoundly transform our view of the world and how we show up in our relationships. The teaching is simple. It first requires us to become an observer of our knee-jerk judgments about things that happen in our relationships.

It’s easy to assume our partner’s intention and assume the worst when we’re upset. When you explore an ‘upset is optional’ attitude, you separate the situation from the person and view the situation objectively, focusing on what actually happened (i.e., what words were said, what action occurred, etc.) without attaching judgment. Doing this allows us to view the situation more expansively, holding wide open all possibilities for why X happened. From this more expansive perspective, we are able to reduce our personal stress and design an effective solution, all the while preserving our relationship.

In the next month, begin looking for places to practice an ‘upset is optional’ attitude. The next time someone does something that upsets you, ask yourself, ‘Is upset optional? What actually happened and what don’t I know?’ Another way to explore an ‘upset is optional’ attitude is to say ‘How fascinating!’ the next time something upsetting happens. Speaking these words evokes curiosity and possibilities other than your immediate judgment. What do you notice as you practice ‘upset is optional’? What is the impact on your relationships?