Winner: 2013’s Blog of the Year #7
The journey through your life is comprised of individual steps. These Moments are each distinct and unique aspects of the universe, but you will use your consciousness to string those individual steps together into what you call the journey of your life. So to be unforgiving is like walking with a pebble in your shoe. Each step of your journey you re-remind yourself that you are in pain. And rather than stopping and removing the pebble from the shoe of your conscious identity, you instead continue on, getting angrier and angrier at the pebble.
So it also goes with love. If you look for your former lover’s face in every passing stranger, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you constantly think about how you were wronged in the past by someone or some institution, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you watch the world for the next impending disaster, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you hate someone for teasing or abusing you, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you focus on your spouse’s key faults rather than their key strengths, then those faults will be pebbles in your shoe.
Don’t be upset by the pebbles themselves. They will have gotten into your shoe by nature. There’s no way to avoid them. Just the act of walking will kick some up, and every now and then one will make it inside the shoe of your conscious identity and eventually it will find its way to somewhere painful. So it getting there is inevitable. But you continuing to walk on it is choice.
People will be self-critical and they’ll blame the pain on who they have become—on what shoes they chose to wear—and yet everyone walking the Earth will necessarily have shoes, and there’s no way getting around the fact that all of them kick up pebbles to be walked on.
People will sometimes be upset with the pebble itself, and yet it got there through natural means. It’s not like the pebble was looking for a foot to irritate. It was just laying there on the path of life and it happened to be one of the ones that ended up in your shoe. If it wasn’t this one it would be another one. So there’s no getting around the fact that we will end up with the pebbles. There’s no way to avoid that. So the real question is, what do we do when we become aware we have one?
That’s where the advantage of the pain comes in. The whole reason it hurts is because that is the universe communicating to you that you have a pebble of thought in the shoe of your identity, and that thought is rubbing your identity the wrong way. If we’re wise that notification will be used as an opportunity for you to stop what you’re doing, pause, and then consciously choose to take off your shoe and dump out the pebble. That is the purpose of the pain. It’s a notification system regarding your thoughts.
We all had to pick a style of shoe. Maybe we’re aggressive like an athletic shoe. Or maybe we’re open and free like a sandal. Maybe we’re pointed and sharp, like a business shoe. Or maybe we’re a casual shoe—something we can’t run in, but at least they’re easy and comfortable. But no matter what shoe-identity we’ve put on, they’re all susceptible to different kinds of pebbles. So don’t be surprised when the pebble ends up back in your shoe. But the process is still the same. You simply notice the pain, stop walking and you remove the pebble. Notice your emotional pain, stop thinking about that subject and replace those painful thoughts with something nicer. It’s that easy.
Eventually we learn to walk in ways that discourage a few of larger pebbles from getting into our lives. But don’t lament their existence. They are an integral part of the path you are walking on. They comprise the surface of the path of your life. Most times they carry your weight. But when they do get under your foot and generate an irritation—don’t start thinking you’re on the wrong path. Because a wise person doesn’t change paths. A wise person just gets really good at pausing and removing pebbles.
Don’t complain about emotional pain. Recognize it as your own thinking and get conscious and change it. Because if you can get good at letting thoughts go, then you will have minimized the amount of suffering you will do on your journey. And that makes for a beautiful walk through life.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.