November 19, 2015

Instead of Pulling Away when Things Get Tough, Try This.

Matt Jiggins/Flickr

I love denial and avoidance as much as the next person when I’m in a tough situation.

When someone is mad at me, I am mad at myself or I have a difficult decision to make, I love to just not deal with it.

I often choose to think about something else, decide I’m worthless and it doesn’t matter, watch TV, eat or have a glass of wine. These vices are my friends.

At least, it feels like that in the moment I am indulging in them.

It feels like I am under a warm blanket at the bottom of the sea, safe and sound where nothing will hurt me.

Okay, this is what I wish indulging in my vices felt like.

In fact, when the going gets tough it actually feels like there is a big weight on my chest and I can’t breathe, and I pray that if I just don’t look at what is hurting me long enough, the bad physical feelings will go away.

But all of you already know the end to this story.

The weight doesn’t go away. It just gets heavier and more of a pain in the a** to drag around until we can’t remember what nasty little—or even big—put the weight on our chest in the first place. All we know is that we feel stuck.

The mind loves to dredge up things like solutions, story-telling, revenge dreaming and resentment when we are in the midst of a life challenge.

And this is okay. The mind is just trying to help us.

But one of the greatest aspects of being human is choice.

Mindfulness brings us the ability to see what is happening in our minds and bodies and make a choice.

Here is a choice I would like to suggest when the going gets tough:

Unconditional love.

Just seeing if we can quiet the mind and send love to ourselves, to others and to the world.

This is a very Buddhist practice, and on the surface it looks easy.

But just try it sometime; it’s more difficult then we think.

The mind is sure we’re in danger; it’s sure we need to go into fight-and-flight and protect ourselves. And it does this by getting us all fired up, aroused and mad at the world.

The mind is good at it’s job.

However, we can become good at our job, too. Sending love.

If the path of working with unconditional love is of interest, I would like to mention that it takes practice.

We need to start with the little things.

Just sending love when someone takes our parking spot.

Sending love to ourselves when we break a dish or stub a toe.

The big ones are hard—our exes, our families, our boss who fired us.

So, we start small. We see where we are pulling away and looking to avoid the moment, and instead of trying to escape we come more into the moment. We feel what we need to feel, we generate a state of love and we stay there for 30 seconds or a few minutes.

We see how the quality of the moment feels different when we immerse it in love.

It feels more spacious and less specific.

It seems more accessible, with nothing to grasp.

This is a very visceral sensation and needs to be experienced.

That is why we commit to practicing.

And let’s be honest, at least a hundred times a day we are going to pull away. I know I am.

But if once a day, or twice, we can lean into the moment and offer love, this will be revolutionary to each of our lives—and the world itself.

So, let’s not beat ourselves up when we choose Netflix or a nice Pinot Grigio; let’s send love to those moments, too.

This is all a work in progress. Let’s just make sure it is going in the slow, patient direction of love.


Relephant Read:

An Empowering Mantra for Any Tough Moment.


Author: Ruth Lera

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Matt Jiggins/Flickr


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