As you begin to take more conscious control of your day you will find some emotions very easy to change while others will be much more difficult. It is worthwhile for you to pay attention to what those difficult ones have in common. That will point to one of your biggest challenges: attachments.
You’ve heard about Buddhism discussing it: lose your attachments. This has many nuanced meanings. When I work one on one or in groups with students I can usually home in on their attachments pretty easily but if you’re aware you can find a lot of yours on your own.
There are conversations you have with yourself that are easy to stop. Maybe you dropped grandma off at the airport and you already miss her. But it lasts until you get into downtown and then you feel okay. But run into your ex at the mall and that will be on your mind for weeks. You love grandma. Why does she only get a half hour and the ex who broke your heart gets weeks?
Don’t think of attachments so much as things you can’t live without, because that implies you’ll only feel them toward people or things that you miss. You might not miss a person at all–but you might miss the apology you never got, or the case you never got to make, or whatever other closing statement you wanted to make to clearly state your position and your awareness of the other person’s responsibility. The attachment is our desire to repeat our argument to the offending person. We blame them for it, but it is us who is replaying our argument. If we’re looking for them to make it go away we’re doomed–we control ourselves, not them.
You don’t need others to conform to you for you to be happy. That would be ego-based happiness. You want that other more profound happiness.and that comes from a quiet mind, not from when everyone is doing exactly what you want. If you’re wanting you’re suffering. Do not use your mind to want.
Take today and try to work out what your key desires are. What are the things that are so important to you that you’ll yell at people? Is it your kid’s school work? Because you might actually be making it worse with too much pressure. Is it your spouse’s behaviour? Well then leave or accept it. You’re not perfect either. Is it your boss? But do you really even know what their job is? Surely it has parts to it you’re not even told about, so the judgment is pretty careless. You’re not even taking their personal challenges into account.
Find the people or subjects you judge the most harshly. Define them and watch for them. If those are your hotspots–if those are the subjects that make you talk to yourself then start with those. That’s your low-hanging fruit. That’s the easy stuff to find. You might as well take care of it now. Find your three key conversations. The three you have the most. Then see them for what they are: silly wishes.
People live their own lives and they live them for themselves, not for us. We might feel some things are very important but they simply may not agree–and they’re often entitled to not agree. So better that we learn acceptance. Find your attachments. And this week we’ll work on evaporating their impact in your life. Find three today. And have an awesome day while you’re doing it.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.