Reality Check

You know how you find yourself ruminating about something and you can’t seem to let it go?  It’s that time when someone says or does something and you keep replaying it in your head and thinking “How could they have said that?” or “Why did they treat me like that?”  You know you are really in the thick of it when you start playing the whole thing over and you come up with about 4 different ‘comebacks’ or other things you wish you had said or done.

Recently, I seem to have gotten caught up in a plethora of experiences/interactions that left me shaking my head, wondering what the hell I did wrong, and questioning everything. Then I finally figured out that I needed a serious reality check.  I was getting caught up in my fears, insecurities, and doubts.  It’s one thing to have my own doubts, fears, and such. But when a combination of my own stuff is going on and then I get healthy doses of other people projecting their own jacked up stuff in the form of criticism, judgment, impatience and lack of understanding…well it becomes one heck of a downward spiral.

So the thing is, I like peace in my life.  I like ease and understanding.  When those things are lacking, I immediately look inward to figure out what is going on and what I can change.  What I have found is that sometimes all I need is a basic reality check.  Think about it like an insurance claim.  Stick to the fact, nothing but the facts.  Leave out all emotions, assumptions, and impact.  What actually happened?

An example could be:  “This person said something that hurt my feelings.”

The reality check?  Someone made a statement.  It’s not about denying feelings were in fact hurt, it’s about the fact that the only thing that happened in that moment was someone made a statement.  Can you take that statement, interpret it, internalize it, then experience in a variety of ways?  Sure.  And that is the exact stuff to let go for a true reality check. When you start to play it out in your head and determine that the statement was right or wrong, that it was given with disrespect, that it somehow reflects your value; you are including assumptions and judgement.  But it’s not about making assumptions OR judgement.  It’s about looking at the facts.  A statement was made.  An action was taken.   It does not have to define everything you are or represent the whole world.

The reality check doesn’t make a hurtful interaction go away, it doesn’t make a feeling not be present. It simply allows an opportunity to gain some objectivity and practice some self compassion and kindness.  When we release our emotional attachments and judgments we can allow more room for understanding which ultimately can create a path of love through the form of forgiveness (whether it be for ourselves or someone else).

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Lose interest in negativity

I am amazed how much energy I have committed to negative people and their experiences.  I used to think that I toxic people were drawn to me for some reason. I would find myself completely worn out and thinking “Why is everyone around me so unhappy?”  And after a while, my frustration would get to the point of pure exhaustion. And I would wonder how I could stay positive with so much negativity around me and even worse, I would think things like, “Maybe I just need to be more negative too.”

Finally one day, I heard someone make the simplest of statements.  They were talking about how to navigate unhappy co-workers and all the drama that can suck the life out of your work day.  The statement was something like this, “You have to become disinterested in the negativity. Begin to consciously decide that you have no interest in it and it will cease to impact you.”

My initial reaction was to sit down.  Those words were so simple, yet profound.  It made so much sense.  The reality was that I had to acknowledge my own interest in the negativity, the drama, the tragedy of it all.  I mean, we have have an entire culture that thrives on reality television and pop culture that perpetuates heartache, grievances, and chaos.  And I DID find that interesting.  I like to think it appealed to my character that believes someone can persevere through hardships but the reality was that by paying attention to the gossip or negative stuff, I didn’t have to pay attention to myself and acknowledge painful feelings or experiences of fear or insecurity.

So I began to digest this idea of disinterest.  I sat with it for a day or so and then I became excited. I wanted to try this out the next day.  I began my day as I usually do and sure enough, within an hour I had my first opportunity to practice disinterest.  Someone was complaining about another coworker and their ‘tone’ and remarking on a recent interaction that was, according to this person, totally unbelievable.  I recognized how easy it would be to comment and not only become interested but engaged in the conversation.  But instead, I smiled and simply choose to think about a positive quality about the very same person who was being talked about and quietly walked out of the room.

The opportunities kept coming.  It happened when someone cut me off in traffic, when my bank made an error on a deposit slip, when someone criticized me for a mistake, and when I spilled coffee down my shirt.  It’s not about ignoring these things or pretending they don’t happen.  Its about recognizing what I can learn and figuring out how I want to move forward.

As I become more in tune with opportunities that present for my disinterest, this amazing thing happens…I simultaneously become more open to the possibility of hopefulness and gratitude.  My environment has not changed, the landscape is the same, yet my capacity for love, tolerance, and understanding has only increased.

It is not like I am suddenly immune to negativity but now I am better at allowing myself to truly assess my own feelings of stress, insecurity, or fear.  Accepting the reality of the situation enables a healthier and happier way to appease my heart than getting consumed by the chaos.  Some times are easier than others, but I am committed to the practice of becoming less interested in the negativity and much more interested in love, understanding, compassion, and kindness.

The practice of well-being: teaching, learning, and growing.

I love the idea that sometimes we have to teach in order to learn.  It becomes more clear all the time that when I share my experiences with someone or teach them something new; I learn the most and ultimately…grow the most.  I used to think that we had to be some sort of expert before we could teach something.  Through my growth I have realized that there is no hard and fast rule that we must master a practice of life before we share it with others.  Especially when it comes to the idea of well-being.  After all, the ideas and concepts of hope, gratitude, joy, love, and happiness are all a practice.  As long as we acknowledge there is no absolute method that fits everyone the same, we will teach and learn through all of our interactions each day.  Through practice we learn how to be present and treasure moments that lift us and fill our hearts and then figure out how to let go of the ones that may not be as kind or inspiring.

There is something magical about teaching and sharing ideas that you are passionate about and believe so deeply within your heart. It’s not about getting people to identify or become aware of things the exact same as you, the magic is that they consider what they agree with and what makes sense for who they are.  It’s like a light within them that shouts “Wait a minute, I know myself and I believe this or I believe that.”  It is a glimpse of their inner wisdom and exploration of exactly who they are and have always been. It’s about creating a reference point to consider and navigate your own outlook, perceptions, and intuition.

The other magical thing is what happens for my own self during this process. I am reminded of my the things I value most and my priorities when I speak about concepts like happiness, satisfaction, love, and hope.  It is an amazing moment of rejuvenation that fills my spirit and calls me to pause and simply take it all in as I hear my own reminders of what truly matters.  It is also beautifully human and empowering to admit to a group that I am growing in awareness in things like ‘letting go’, ‘self-compassion’, and ‘growing in hope’ without claiming to be an expert or some perfect model of total calm each day.

The reality is that we all practicing at the level that we are conscious.  To increase our consciousness, we grow in awareness.  And to grow in awareness we sometimes have to be vulnerable and simply acknowledge that we are perfectly imperfect.

This is my intention:  keep growing in awareness through love, understanding, compassion, and kindness.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those four things spell out LUCK.  After all, luck is defined as “a force that brings good fortune”.  And what’s more powerful than Love, Understanding, Compassion, and Kindness? Whether you believe in LUCK or not; I am incredibly grateful to be able to experience so many opportunities to teach, learn, and grow every single day.