Rubber duckies. . .one last image by Gaetan Lee
Each time I want to avoid something like negative thinking, a hard phone call, or a cleaning chore I don’t enjoy, I find my mind exaggerates the importance of it until I’m forced to deal with it.
I used to think this was just some silly cliché people liked to give in lieu of a heartfelt answer. Now I’m forced to admit that this is one cliché that’s true. Whatever you try to avoid returns again and again until you deal with it. Whether it’s a money matter, a troublesome coworker or a cluttered closet, trying to avoid a problem will only make you focus on it more.
Take anger for instance. At times I get angry at people in my life for various reasons. Sometimes I will feel “forced” to put up with their bad manners, selfishness or laziness. I decide to “bite my tongue,” and not say anything, hoping the situation will resolve or some magical solution will arrive. Then during a meditation session, I will suddenly think, “I am so angry at so-and-so, she did “xyz,” and I deserve to be mad.”
Once I admit to myself that I feel angry, the pain associated with it fades away. I begin to recognize that the other person was tired, stressed, or otherwise not themselves, or I will come up with a plan of action to address the situation. Then magically the harshness and poison of anger will leave and I’ll feel calm and peaceful.
It’s amazing how simply honestly acknowledging those “bad” emotions takes the fever from my mind. It’s like my brain says “Oh, you’re jealous,” and just files that away. No longer am I consumed by thoughts swirling around in my head. Once I give them my attention, they go away.
Usually after I’ve done this, some wonderful idea for dealing with my fear or an understanding of why I feel lonely will pop into my head. This works for happy emotions as well. When I feel excited, joyful, energetic and healthy, and I concentrate on that feeling, it seems to amplify it. I may notice that I feel healthy because I exercised that day, or joyful because I’m doing an activity I enjoy. This allows me to distinguish this from other emotions and helps me to repeat them again later.
By realizing that what I resist will keep returning to me, I can benefit from both my happy and unhappy emotions. Then I can decide to correct my mistakes and move on, or to repeat what I’m doing for more of the same. It’s a win-win situation!