Have you ever laid in bed at night regretting something you’d said? Or perhaps you’ve looked back on an interaction and wished you had spoken up at the time.
At Clear Sky, we study tools to help us see our common patterns. One of those tools is a personality test that measures our patterns of social behavior and communication. We know it as the CAPS test, where “C” is for Controller, “A” is for Analyst, “P” is for Promoter, and “S” is for Supporter. From these names, where do you imagine you mostly show up?
On the test, I scored highest for the Analyst and lowest for the Promoter. This suggests that I don’t speak up unless I’m sure of what I’m saying. In fact, when it comes to expressing myself more spontaneously – some aspects of what they call “promoting” – well, this doesn’t come as easily.
Freedom! – Playing with our patterns
There was another karma yogi at Clear Sky, let’s call him Sam, who was the opposite of me; he was a prominent Promoter and scored lowest on Analyst. Sam would often talk a lot at meals and would be excited about anything he talked about. One day, as a challenge, Doug Sensei challenged me and Sam to switch patterns, which meant that he would be an Analyst for a few days and I would be a Promoter.
As I started doing the challenge, I noticed that I had difficulty knowing what to say and finding enthusiasm about it. So what I did was to think of anything, no matter how small, and talk about it. After cooking dinner once I announced, “This is the best coconut curry in the entire East Kootenays!” and everyone laughed and smiled, including myself. As an Analyst, I would have thought that it was not the best curry and that there was no functional need to say that, but as a Promoter, I was starting to see the joy and value of engaging with other people in a more light-hearted way. It doesn’t mean I have to give up the strengths of my Analyst, just that I get more strings to my bow.
I talked to Sam non-stop for the whole challenge and he said that I was funny. I guess he learned something too, because he acknowledged taking up more than his share of space in our conversations in the past.
Fruits of the practice
Since that experience, I’m better able to embrace what we call Promoter energy when I talk to people. At the time of writing, for example, I’m visiting my family in the United States and yesterday I vacuumed my grandma’s house. My grandma was talking to one of her friends on speaker phone and wanted me to say something. I’d never spoke to her friend before and when I was about to speak, I decided to show up as a Promoter rather than my default, which might have been to say something like, “Hello, how are you?”. Instead I said, “ I vacuumed the entire house and now it’s all clean!” and everyone laughed. To me, this is a simple example of how it brings a sense of freedom when you’re more conscious about how you show up. You can make different choices and potentially have more fun, rather than stay in habit. Or, you can also choose not to.
Partly from seeing the different effects from these experiments, I’ve noticed how powerful words can be when we’re in conversations. Now, I try to be more skillful and flexible when talking with other people. A family member recently commented that we live in a terrible world, and I challenged that statement by saying that we also live in a compassionate world, which he admitted is true, too. Years ago I might have said nothing and left only the negativity out there, even carried it with me. Yet since leaving Clear Sky, having stayed there for six months, I’ve noticed a lot of negativity and suffering, and I’ve noticed that engaging in positive and light conversation with people is an easy way to put everyone in a more positive state. It’s a learned skill, rather than my natural way.
So, I recommend switching patterns with someone unlike you for a day to see what you learn. Or just acting like someone else to see what you learn.
Meanwhile, here’s a short summary of what I’ve learned so far:
- Being positive and sharing that energy with other people makes a big difference to everyone’s state;
- In any situation, there’s always something to be grateful for and positive about;
- Humor helps a lot in difficult situations.
I’d love to hear about your experiments and learning below in the comments. Happy exploring!