We all have people in our life. We have interactions with these people. Sometimes, these interactions can leave us in a bad headspace. Here's one way to break down these interactions in a mindful way.
I'm not sure where I got this theory... If I listened/studied a bunch of things, and then put it all together, or if I copied and pasted, but as far as I am concerned, it is original to me, (Jess).
I have this lens I look through at all the people in my life. It helps me sort through emotions I have regarding them, and don't pretend you don't have emotions about the people in your life too, because I know we all do.
Anyway this process goes like this; everyone in your life, EVERYONE, the guy at the bus stop to your little brother, can be categorized into four groups.
- A Teacher
- A Student
- A Collaborator
- A Messenger
Now, this might seem obvious, or maybe not, but when you can categorize people who you may have a bone to pick with, in one of these categories, life starts to get better. Before you're totally lost on me, I am going to break each one down, give you an example, and explain how you can distinguish each category.
- The Teacher -
This is not Mrs. Browns kindergarten class type of teacher. This is that teacher in college who gave pop quizzes, said the final was going to be identical to them, and then the final was nothing like them. This is the teacher who gave homework on the last week of school. This is the teacher who called on you to read in class even though you weren't raising your hand, and she knew you didn't like to do it.
The teachers in our lives often are people who annoy the hell out of us, push us to our limits, and help us get out of our comfort zones. These are often people who have the ability to send adrenaline shooting up our spines, make us break out in hives, or send us running for the hills.
Teachers often reveal the shadow self in us. They reveal deep wounds that need healing, and force us to look at the ugly parts of ourselves.
An example of a teacher in my life is my younger brother. I love him like no other human on this earth, and we have been through more shit together than most siblings, but this dude can make me boil like no other human on the planet. It's not because he's right and I'm wrong, it's not because I'm right and he's wrong, this isn't about that, it's about expansion, and I know a purpose of my brother's soul is to help mine expand.
So whenever we have a conversations that is particularly challenging, I may step back and ask myself, "What is he teaching me right now?" and those lessons look a lot different each time.
Sometimes he is exposing my co-dependent adaptive personality, sometimes he is calling out my habit of impatience, sometimes he's revealing my intolerance for other views. All of it is worthy of introspection.
To determine if a person is a teacher in you life, after an interaction, ask yourself:
"Is this feeling I'm feeling after speaking to them, something I need to work on?"
If the answer is yes, they're probably a teacher.
If the answer is no, continue reading.
- The Student -
These are the people in your life who you feel contrast towards as well, but unlike the teacher, these are more feelings of apathy, or avoidance, or maybe even mischief towards. True students are rare and you'll only have a handful in the span of a lifetime. They often come around when you're leveling up and need a final test before you make a decision to change for the better. These are friends you've ghosted, people who you won't let have their way, and you aren't exactly sure why.
It's because you are their teacher, and though you may not realize it, you are teaching them patience and helping them expand. It's not that you can't learn lessons from these people too, I will be the first to tell you, as a teacher, I think teachers can always learn lessons from students, but it's more one sided. The lessons are more positive than negative, for example,
- "I'm better than that."
- "I deserve more than this."
- "I'm learning to set boundaries!" These are much different lessons than, "I'm intolerant, and impatient and co-dependant." that Teachers teach us. They are lighter and show improvements rather than darkness.
An example of a student in my life is my mom. We often think that our kids are our students, but I actually think it's the other way around. Our kids were sent here to show us patience, remind us who we are, and to reveal our shadow selves.
Although my mom did teach me things, like how to walk, eat and use a toilet, I taught my mom things like, self-acceptance, accountability, and patience. Those are harder lessons. Therefore, I think it's safe to say I'm probably the teacher in this situation.
To determine if a person is a student in you life, after an interaction, ask yourself:
"Is this feeling I'm feeling after this interaction protecting me from toxicity, or just stubborn denial." Get real with yourself, because students are rare. You only will have a handful of students in your lifetime. If the answer is protection, then you're probably teaching a student in this scenario.
- The Collaborator -
These are probably the most common relationships we have. These are people who help project us forward, support us, and people who we both teach and learn from. The lessons are a lot more light and more of the physical world, opposed to our spiritual world. Lessons like, "How to use a computer." or "Where to find the right tool for this new project I'm starting." These can be challenging relationships, no doubt, and defiantly have a spectrum of deep to light. A collaborator in my life is Carlos. My husband has taught me so much and opened my eyes to so many things both on a soul level and in the world, and I know this goes both ways. We support each other, root for each other, and pick up what the other has let slack.
These are people you often can't get rid of, and are always there when you need them no matter what type of shit goes down. They can also be people in you life who were there for a short time, but helped you get from point A to point B. An old boss, co-worker, or maybe a friend you peacefully grew apart from. More than likely though, if you were to call that person and they were delighted to hear from you, more than likely a collaborator.
To determine if a person is a collaborator in you life, after an interaction, ask yourself:
"Am I willingly growing just as much as the other person in this relationship?" If the answer is yes, then you probably have a collaborator in your life.
- The Messenger -
This is a bit more profound. A messenger doesn't always stick around. Every type of person can deliver a message. But a messenger is someone you will probably never see again, but who's word your remember as being influential, life-changing, or significant in some sort of way. The relationship to you is often minimal, fast, and not significant, but the words they say ring in your head and bother you or inspire you. These aren't really teachings or lessons, but more warnings or encouragement.
For example, I had a guy I dated for a month in college. I have forgotten about him so many times, but I always remember one thing he said to me that I thought was too weird to let go. We were on our first date, and we weren't really doing anything. We went to get ice cream we were sitting there getting to know each other and suddenly he says, "I think you would look exquisite bald."
At this time I had a head full of hair, enough for a village, it spilled down to my thighs so I thought, "Where the fuck did that come from?"
Anyway, just as quickly as that relationship started, it ended, and I quickly forgot all the details of that man or the experiences we had, aside from that one moment where I felt odd, penetrated, and slightly warned. Six years later, I found my first bald spot and now I am bald.
Sometimes I think back to that moment and wonder if he knew something I didn't or something was speaking through him to warn me that I'd be okay.
To determine if a person is a messenger in you life, after an interaction, ask yourself:
"Will what this person say matter to me in a profound and curious way five years from now?" or the past tense version, "Did what this person say to me still move me in a profound and curious way." If the answer is yes, then you probably have heard from a messenger.
So you may be asking, what the hell does any of this have to do with being mindful. Well I'll tell ya! The next time you walk away from an interaction with someone feeling some type of way.... it might be helpful to ask yourself, "Who is this person and how do they show up in my life?" before you start to spiral. It could make you feel a lot better about your life and your interactions and teach you to be a bit more compassionate the next time you're having a difficult discussion.
Anyway, I hope you go away from this with some type of insight, and a tool to help you, and if you like this philosophy, let me know! DM us on insta @ladyandlionco or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org