We hold onto things by choice, even though we don’t always know it or want to admit it.
If someone is rude, maybe insults us—or worse—we face some choices too.
We can let their words or actions drill down into us, causing destruction to our state of being. We can throw the bullet back at them by saying or doing something worse to them.
Or, we can choose compassion, and forgiveness.
We can try to see that person as someone who is suffering in their own way, and dealing with that by lashing out at, or deliberately hurting other people.
The last option is certainly the hardest to pull off in a tense or painful situation, but the outcome—mainly for us—is infinitely better and easier to bear in the long term.
But what do we do with anger we’ve been holding on to? Anger that has turned to hate. Hate that we have been carrying around for years and years—thinking about and obsessing over. That grows each time we feed it by giving it our attention.
The greater the hurt, the longer it may take us to arrive at compassion, at mindfulness, but it remains a choice. And we’d be wise to make it.
Because the best, the only way to starve the beast is by being mindful of it.
When we notice we have moved into destructive thoughts—jealousy, anger, resentment—we can tell ourselves: “These thoughts have come into my mind, and I acknowledge them. I also choose to focus instead on the good things around me at this moment so that I might let them go.”
I find going to any window or stepping outdoors helps. Getting even a little closer to the natural world provides enough small joys to fuel many more mindful moments than might be possible without that connection.
If we can make a habit of doing this—physically stepping outside—or at least turning our attention there, we can develop the ability to turn these destructive thoughts on their heads. Every time they arise, we can use them like a bell going off—reminding us to return to the present and be mindful.
We can apply this to any difficult situation. When we find ourselves confronted with conflict, internal or external, we can choose the route that leads to a more peaceful outcome and dispels the conflict as much as possible. Each time we do this it will become easier and easier and our response more and more natural.
All experiences in our lives contain the seed of a lesson in them. Through mindful thinking we can learn to accept those seeds and let them take root in us in a different way—as lessons, previously disguised as bad experiences.
This idea goes deeper than just our reactions to the outside world. We can also apply it to our inner journey. When we are confronted with the parts of ourselves that we would rather avoid or even fight against, we can use them instead as reminders that we are still growing.
We can accept them, perhaps even gratefully and, at the same time, we can let them go.
Ultimately it will be our own load that we lighten in the process.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Check out the rest of our Mindful Life Illustrated comic series:
Author & Artist: Mike Medaglia
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren