When we talk of "mentors" we usually refer to the helpful and supportive kind.
But, truly, the people and events that shake us to the core are life's most power teachers and mentors, and if we listen, they end up showing us the way forward.
What you will learn from this chapter will serve to both empower and set you free. The gift is right behind the wound. Every time.
(10mins, 30 secs)
Please listen when you are relaxed and are able to record thoughts in your journal. Let this be a depth practice of self care. When complete, you can pause and return to the practice below later, or continue (whatever feels good).
Antagonistic Mentor Experiential
Let's take a moment to experience first hand what it feels like to grow conscious in the heat of crisis. Let's experience resisting the impulse to ignore, distract, deny, flee or attack. Instead, let's watch and listen for the guidance and come in to relationship with the full power of antagonistic mentoring.
Below is a video of a king rattle snake in active communication of its boundaries. The person behind the camera is as close as the snake wishes him to be. Our king rattle snake is communicating – and yes, it's scary. But, again, it's communicating. It's acting as antagonistic mentor.
Take a moment to watch this video all the way through. Breath and watch with an open curious mind. See this snake as communicating very useful boundaries, rather than one that is simply a symbol of danger for you. Notice how the snake does not strike. Its rattle is its clear and helpful signal. Think about scenarios in your own life. Do you rattle before you strike, giving people a chance to learn of your boundaries? Or is there someone you know who you wish would rattle first before they strike out at you without warning?
When my husband and I argue, I remind him that his rattle is welcome, but if he strikes first I will either strike back or flee. Either way, we both lose.
So let's visit with our mentor, Snake, and learn . . .
Antagonistic Mentor Practice
Now let's take this into the human realm – your human realm. So far in your life, you have already experienced large and small antagonistic mentor moments that likely lay as lost opportunities for growth. Like most of us, past crisis events were dealt with, rather than consciously digested into teachings that grow us emotionally and spiritually.
Download the Antagonistic Mentoring Worksheet for recording your results.
A sample is also provided as reference.
Name it. Within your journal or in the worksheet, make a list of all the people and/or events that are causing you the most pain and turmoil in our life right now. That may include a family member, a health concern, a boss, change at work, etc. Choose the most potent issue to practice with – perhaps even the one that led you to take up this journey today.
Feel it. Now, think of this person or event - and let it burn. Don't turn away from the heat. Feel the feels. This may be difficult because we generally like to avoid pain. But, remember, pain and emotion is the key to shedding the old, uncovering the guidance, and liberating the new. If we can lean in and endure it, we may build resilience and receive the gift behind the wound.
Open to it. Once you begin to feel the heat slightly pull back or level out, close your eyes and take several full wholesome deep breaths in and reframe this person or event in your mind as your antagonistic teacher or mentor. It has something to teach you. It's communicating with you. Say this, "I am open to the guidance."
Receive. In the silence, hold neutral space for questions, thoughts, ideas to rise and fall. The guidance may be simple, or multi-layered. Let the heat burn away the distraction of the ego and notice what's true. Note in your journal or in the worksheet what comes to mind. If nothing rises in this first attempt, sleep on it. Give it time. Do not rush it. Depending on the depth of the lesson, it could be minutes or even months for the lesson to surface. Be patient. Hold space for guidance. It will come.
Moving from resistor to receptor is HUGE. We live in a highly defensive world, so reclaiming your power in this area takes practice – and it will change your life forever. Think of all the effort people poor into denying their pain. They lost the gift. But you can do this. You can touch the center. Practice opening. Trust the process.
Live it. Make this a regular practice in your everyday life. Anything and everything that causes you distress is an antagonistic mentor. Everything - no exceptions. A lost iPhone to a tyrannical boss, all of it – listen for the guidance. You're being led. Our crisis events, barriers, and bullies are especially strong catalysts. They touch the center of our original trauma. They challenge us to shed and grow.
Personal example from my own life:
NAME IT: On a CEO search for a hospital, I had a frightening experience with a CEO level candidate. He began threatening me because he was not chosen to advance in the search process after his in person interview.. He felt it was due to ageism. It was really due to what surfaced as his deep insecurity and related hostility. But, he threated to sue me and my client. His threats were viscious and I was so frightened that my body shook.
FEELS: I felt debilitating fear that this person would destroy me and ruin my business. I felt shame and fear; had I done something catastrophically wrong? I felt worry about my future and the security of my family. My body was shaking, sweating and I was sleepless.
GUIDANCE: After feeling the heat for at least twenty mintues, I asked for the guidance and the answer was immediate! I heard this, as if the candidate was speaking to me, "The executive class of candidate I belong to can be powerful and dangerous. It is time to strengthen your masculine business instincts and keep people like me at arm's length. We are powerful and can do you harm if you are too trusting." Wow! This was a lesson I needed to learn. In an instanct the body shakes ended and I moved from fearful to grateful.
ANTAG MENTOR: This individual taught me a valuable lesson that has helped me grow and mature as an executive recruiter. I am forever thankful to my antagonistic mentor.