Today our topic is RECIPROCAL TRANSFORMATION (recipro-who?). Reciprocal Transformation is the premise that when something changes or heals in you, something also changes or heals me. You remember your high school math, right? A reciprocal is a reverse, the inverse of a number. The reciprocal of 7/1 would be 1/7 – the same just in the opposite order. Exploring a reciprocal is a way to flip the perspective and see in the reverse order of things. Before you start snoring, lets get right to the heart of it.
The heart of this concept is that we are all interconnected, both in simple and very complex ways.
Concrete example: I sneeze, you get sick (sorry!).
Emotional Example: I am hurting so I take it out on someone driving (road rage, a very common but serious problem) I release and pass on some degree of my stress through this process, but you pick it up and, since you already had a hard day, its tough to shake and you end up going home and being grouchy with your partner (oops), then s/he brings that funk to work the following day and spreads it around the office. Booo… nobody wins.
Lets take an even wider perspective.
I live in world where there exists intense suffering. I suffer, too. The age-old question is, how to relieve suffering. WELL, (stay with me here) the funny thing is, when I feel like crap and I decide to go and help someone else, I usually leave feeling 1,000 times better. My life, problems and context have not changed, but I have been able to authentically connect with another heart & soul and offer them some relief. In doing so, I have found my own relief.
This is the heart of reciprocal transformation. It is selfish altruism. Go share your love, for in giving your heart you will also feel it for yourself. The experience of giving is its own gift.
This all may sound easy, lofty, familiar or foreign to you. If you are nodding along and this makes sense to you, keep it up! If you’d like some more practice, try these steps:
1. Reflect on your relationships – how when and where do you experience suffering? How do you pass negative feelings back and forth? Make a conscious commitment to intercept a negative vibe in the next few days and pass on love rather than tension or fear.
2. When do you bring joy to the world? What would you need in order to bring more? Make a conscious choice to DO WHAT LIFTS YOU UP in the next three days.
3. What can you do at low points in your energy and life that help you and someone else to feel better, at a deep level? Decide on one person, place or thing you can offer love to (in any form), and take action to do this at least once in the next three days. Make it small enough to feel doable, and do it! I’ve got your back!
So… whether you want to volunteer to feed someone a meal, teach a yoga class to inmates, feed animals in a hospital, or [insert idea that just popped to your mind here] — now’s your time! There are countless ways to get some fresh air, perspective and healing today. Define your own, and please leave your idea in the comments below to help inspire others! Remember, introverts, that you can be helpful online or in quiet ways as well. Doesn’t it feel good to send a thank you letter or donate to a deserving cause? 🙂
Here it comes, the personal side…
I’ll cut right to it, because this is a big one and has been a huge life lesson for me.
When I was 22 years old, my older brother passed away very suddenly. It was a sudden, traumatic, gut-wrenching loss, to say the least.
I found myself completely overwhelmed, with the feeling that my mind had exploded – how had this happened? From one day to the next my world was changed, turned inside out and flipped upside down.
So what did I do? Well, I stopped DOING so g*d*mn much (chronic busybody over-achiever:) and did a quick, very necessary, somewhat conscious evaluation of where I was putting my time and energy. I decided what was MOST important. Call it teaching, call it loving, call it being of service. It was the only thing that really mattered to me and fed my soul – it was tutoring and mentoring youth, and it led me to eventually become a psychotherapist.
I had been teaching and mentoring a group of young people from Nickerson Housing Developments in Watts for some time already, and quickly realized how much the work deeply fed me, at a soul level. All of the busy-ness and activities I had once had were stripped away and I spent hours with the youth, both on campus at UCLA, as the program had been set up, and in at Nickerson, where I ventured further to work with community members and support the youth in accessing educational and extracurricular activities. I knew the problems they faced were much bigger than I could understand but I felt then, and still feel deeply now, that the authentic connections made during that time made a positive impact – both on me and on the youth and families I worked with.
This is a perfect example of reciprocal transformation because I was suffering, intensely, as were these children – in different ways, of course. In giving to them I accessed the stream of love that can flow within and between human beings and we were all better for it. While all problems were not solved, this experience brought healing to all involved.
So, that’s my big example for the day. I hope that you do not have to reach this level of emotional shock or trauma to experience the soul-saving essence of service work and that you can find something TODAY that allows this current of love to flow through you.
Whatever motivates you to connect with others and whatever lifts you up, I would love to hear about it in the comments below! Please do share the love!
With much love and gratitude,