This video is about justice and a little aspect of justice which is our turn for something… what’s going on internally when we are fighting for our turn and how to make a different love-based choice.
So let’s talk about justice today and our turn. Let me give you a little bit of a set-up because this recently came up for me. Two of my boys play piano so they have piano lessons, and piano lessons happen at the piano teacher’s house. Every week we have a time slot and that’s our time slot, and we show up and have our piano lessons. But during vacation, sometimes we move lessons around because the kids don’t have school so they have more daytime availability and we go out of town every once in a while. So that can shift but not always.
It is vacation and we show up at piano lessons at our regular time. As we are getting out of our car, there is another set of students getting out of their car at the same time. I’m like, “Hmmm. What’s going on here?” So I tell my boys to hold tight and I go inside and say, “Hey. Isn’t this our slot?” She says, “Oh no! I meant to text you. I scheduled them instead. They came all the way from the north end.”
Clearly we had an assumption on my part that we get our regular time slot, and there was an assumption on her part that it was vacation and everything was out the window. And right then, I heard two different things happening in my head. I heard an old pattern and I heard a new pattern, and I want to talk about those two patterns.
We, especially as Americans, take our turns very seriously. You can see this in how we line up for things. We line up in single file order. We learned this when we were little, in preschool or kindergarten. We learned how to queue properly. We even have lines where we take a number so that we know where our spot is in the line. Think back to elementary school. If somebody cut in line, it was a big deal. They were ostracized for that kind of behavior. We’re very serious about our turn.
Just watch people in line. You can see people who are looking around suspiciously making sure that nobody is going to encroach on their position. If someone comes in and is sort of standing in a weird place and it’s not clear what they’re doing, people are looking at them like, “You better not be thinking about taking my place in line.” It’s no joke. People are out there defending their territory.
Here’s another example when you’re waiting at an office and you’ve got an appointment. So you are there and you’ve been waiting, and then someone comes after you and they get called before you. “What’s going on there? How come they’re getting back there before me?”
We do this. We do this all over the place. It’s our turn. It’s our spot. I used to be very much about the justice of my turn. In my 20s, I went to a lot of live concerts. If it is general admission, there aren’t assigned seats. So we would have our blanket and put it out. Everybody is having a merry time but in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “Pull the corners of that blanket out and let’s just hold our area so that everybody in our group has a place to sit.” It’s stressful! It’s stressful to try and maintain your boundaries between yourself and other people. Ultimately, what would happen anyway? My group would wander away and have a great time not worrying about the blanket. And they didn’t have to, because Stacy was on blanket duty making sure we had our spot.
Let’s look at what is happening when that is going on, because it is actually fear-based thinking. We don’t dig into it much, but what is happening when we obsess about our turn, our spot, our space? We fear other people are not going to respect our turn, that people aren’t going to watch out for us, that people aren’t going to have our best interests at heart. Everybody is going to be in it for themselves, and we’ve got to get in there and defend ourselves too. So, it’s really fear-based thinking.
I recognized this in myself a while back, so I decided to do an experiment to see what would happen if I just trusted, if I just trusted that everyone around me was going to do the right thing. It is super cool when you do that. For one, when you are in line and you don’t have to defend your spot, you get to smile at everybody. You get to make friends. You don’t have to look around suspiciously. You get to enjoy yourself.
When you are at Costco and you have a huge full cart and the person behind you has one thing, you get to let them go ahead. You become generous, because you trust that everybody is out looking out for everybody. It’s a totally different mindset.
You begin to realize that in many cases, people ARE watching out for each other. You end up in situations where you are like, “You go ahead” and they say, “No, you go.” As soon as you take that step forward, that love-based step towards people, it disarms them and suddenly everybody is watching out for everybody.
What’s the big deal anyway. Say you ARE delayed five minutes. Your appointment was at a certain time and it’s gone five minute over. If you don’t have to be anywhere (especially now when we all have a cell phone. I can check email. I can check social media. I certainly have ways I can fill my time), what’s the harm in being flexible? No harm at all. So often we defend that turn and there isn’t even any real purpose for it other than the justice of it. And the justice of it is the right and wrong which means we are coming from a fear-based place.
Now, I’m not telling you to be a doormat or a pushover or to get taken advantage of. Sometimes we can’t rearrange our schedule. We really need that appointment to be at that time, because we’ve put other things on the other sides of it. Maybe we can’t come back at another time. We can’t modify for that. It is okay to stand up for yourself, but you don’t have to do it in a snotty and rude way. You don’t have to say, “Um, excuse me, that was MY turn.” No. You can very kindly say, “You know what? I think I was here, and I just don’t have time to delay. Is it okay if I go?” We can be kind and polite and we don’t have to let people take advantage of us, but we don’t have to be rude.
So, I started that experiment a while back and have found that people are generous. People are looking out for others. Back to the piano teacher’s house…the old pattern is, “That was OUR slot that has been schedule for months and months. She might not have checked with me, but we have the RIGHT to that spot.” I heard that. An old pattern is sometimes going to still come up and you’re going to hear it, so there it was.
The new pattern is, “We’re not that busy. The new people came from father away than us.” I was just going to dump my kids and go to the grocery store. They can certainly come to the grocery store with me, and I have plenty of things to do if their lessons are delayed by an hour. So, why not be flexible? And why not be generous? There is no reason (that isn’t fear-based) not to choose generosity, flexibility, and trust in other people.
So they went to the lessons in our slot, we went to the grocery store and came back for a later lesson, and they were very grateful to us for making a modification. And then you’ve got the channel of love open, because you are operating from a love-based place, not a fear-based place.
Next time you are in a situation where you hear yourself getting into the justice of your spot in line, your turn, your time slot, whatever it is, stop and ask yourself, “What if I just trust that people are going to look out for me, too? What if I just let go of the fear that they’re not and embrace love and generosity and flexibility, if possible? Do a little experiment and see how much better that feels and how surprising people can be.