Making the conscious choice to let go. It starts by noticing when you’re holding on.
After scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day, I went to clean my house. I found myself ranting inside my head, responses to a post, as if I was in a debate with that person at that very moment. I was having this one sided conversation, and feeling the anger and agitation build within. The death grip in my mind was mirrored by my white knuckled grasp on the sponge.
And then I paused.
Am I going to let this control my state of mind right now? What are my choices here?
Am I actually going to put a response on Facebook and start shit, or am I not going to do that? The answer for me in this situation was no, I wasn’t going to reply to this person. So, what then? Why take up my time ranting away, formulating a meticulous argument I never plan to use?
The occurrence of getting stuck on something I hear, read, or a conversation I had earlier that day (or week) is not new for me – I can easily get caught ruminating over it and having full blown conversations in my head with the best arguments and retorts there ever were. It robs me of my peace of mind; keeping me activated in this defensive anger and irritation. It’s not a fun place to be.
This time was different. I brought my awareness to the choices I had, and actively chose what I was going to do/ not do. By doing this, I was able to also choose to let it be. It was clear after consciously making that choice that this didn’t need or deserve anymore of my attention or peace of mind. And yes, my mind continued to wander back there from time to time (I mean, come on, scrubbing bathrooms really isn’t that fun), but when I noticed my mind wandering back or coming up with new points to argue, I reminded myself of the choice I made and let it go..again.
This was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me, as simple as it was – the tiny pause I took while scrubbing the sink. It speaks to a choice that for a long time I didn’t realize was there; I didn’t understand the power I had when it felt like my mind was holding me hostage. Now I know that when I notice I’m caught up chasing thoughts; I can actively choose to continue to follow it, or to stop running and let it go.
Oh awareness, the Allen Key to all DIY self-improvement projects. Noticing when your mind is hooked and ruminating, noticing when you are slipping away from your calm new-brainy state, noticing that you have a choice, and then noticing again and again when your mind tries to go rogue. It’s really too bad that every experience didn’t come with the ‘Awareness Key’ packaged nicely in a labelled plastic bag, along with instructions about how to use it to assemble the lesson at hand.
Simply bringing myself back to the choice I have in every moment is a bit mind-blowing. Okay, I see this frustration. What am I going to do about it? Am I going to reply, start another conversation, etc? OR do I not actually want to take action, and my endless ruminating is simply taking up my precious mind-space for no reason whatsoever?
Sometimes, it is actually the first choice. I do want or need to do something about it, take some sort of action. This is helpful to make clear to yourself because then you can move on to the next phase of putting in a plan of what you are going to do about it. Going over it in your mind can even be a great way to rehearse doing what needs to be done, if you do it mindfully. Making the conscious choice helps you clarify your intention, which will give your internal dialogue a purpose – and will stop it from rambling on relentlessly and getting off course.
And if you ask yourself this question and find that it is the latter (like most of my experiences) then you can make the active choice to let it go. Unless you’d rather become a master in one-sided debating. And that’s your choice.
The choice we always have, 100% of the time, how we choose to respond. To other people, to situations, to our relentless mind. It’s choice. It’s power. It’s freedom – if we want it to be.
Since my sink scrubbing epiphany I have made it a habit to look for my choice everywhere. I pause and ask myself “What is my choice here?” and so far I have found the experiment very eye-opening and empowering. Unfortunately I don’t remember as much as I would like, often forgetting to bring my nifty tool awareness along for the ride.
So my plan now?
I’m putting this in my pocket.
And I encourage you all to do the same, in one way or another. 🙂