But then, all this week, this concept kept coming up for me.
Like I had this amazing conversation with my dad. I have an amazing dad. I wrote (with my sister) about him here if you ever feel the need to read up on him. I think you should. He's pretty friggin' awesome.
So, I had this conversation with him. On the phone two days ago. He was talking about mindfulness and how he is practicing this practice, this mindfulness practice, and one of the things he is doing is noticing his reaction to things. And then, instead of reacting to how he reacted in that moment and letting his mind do all that self-talk that is often filled with negativity - because we often react to something in a way that we wish we did not and so we shame ourselves and berate ourselves and tell ourselves that we did it wrong - instead of doing any of that he is just sitting in noticing what his reaction was in that moment. And then letting it go.
Like this is what he is telling me over the phone and I was like did you read my writing on Monday? because this was what I avoided writing about because I was not in the mood to work that hard.
The best thing was he had not read my blog yet. And so the fact that he brought this up, and I had been thinking of this, well really, the serendipitousness of this is just too good. (and yes, I know that I should use "serendipity" but it just doesn't capture the bigness of this coincidence enough)
And then it came up again. This reaction to our reaction idea. It came up again. And again still. In conversations that I had with other people. All week. And so I knew that it was time, in this Monday's writing, as in today's writing, to delve on in and explores this more.
You already know what it is as I so succinctly explained it above in the paragraph about my dad. So what I really want to talk about is those beautiful lessons that come out of being able to notice our reactions to our reactions.
Do we berate ourselves? Do we tell ourselves that we should have done it better? Do we then think about it over and over and over again because we are disappointed or angry at ourselves? And why do we do this?
These are the big questions. And this is where the lessons live.
I do this. A lot actually. Much more than I thought I did until I started to notice. And not only do I self-talk myself into a really lousy mood by reacting negatively to my reaction but I do it for a really long time. Ten, fifteen, could be twenty minutes that my not so nice voice in my head goes on and on about how I really fucked it up and didn't do it good enough. She is persistent, I'll give her that.
But now, now I am aware of this and noticing my extremely obstinate and tenacious, negative voice in my head.
Wait, that is not exactly true.
I have always been aware of her. But until recently I engaged with her. I interacted and listened and responded back sometimes in conversations in my mind that took over my spirit and prevented me from moving on from an incident that happened so many moments ago and was over long before my conversation with my self-talk was.
But now, now I don't engage. I notice. And then I reflect.
What pain happened way back in my life that she grabs onto to try and keep me from growing forward? What pain and how do I heal from it?
What pain and what shame?
What stories does she keep repeating to me because she wants to keep her footing in the door to my soul?
What stories does she find and then retell and why do they work so well?
I notice all of this. I notice and explore what she is saying without feeding her my attention which is fuel for her fire of negativity and blame. It is interesting to notice what she says. And, because I can see her from this distance now and hear her without taking in her chatter and making it mine, I can reflect on her words and her stories and her blaming and think back to where she may have found them in the first place.
For you see, they came from inside me, those parts of me that I still need to nurture and forgive, to accept and to love. She sees them as opportunity for pain. But now I see them as the opportunity to grow.
And this is what is happening now: when she shows up I take her in my arms in my minds eye and I tell her that it really is ok. That I know that she hurts and that I know that its hard but really its all good. And she quiets down. Not completely silent yet but not as loud and not as long. The lessons are being learned and the hurt is being healed and soon she'll get to rest.