Do you ever wish you could wave a magic wand to transform your current experience from one of angst, disconnection or dissatisfaction to one of expansion, ease, and possibility?
The truth is that you can and you do have this magic wand right at your fingertips.
And, the first step to activating and leveraging this superpower is to notice for yourself how often
you tend to focus on and allow so much of your attention and precious life force to be consumed in focusing on perceived problems and in trying to fix things that are not going well in your life
Have you ever noticed the tendency to focus on and allow so much of our attention, our life force, our energy and awareness to be consumed by the problems and all the things that are not going well in our lives?
I definitely see this often in myself and in the women I work with, and I believe there are multiple factors underneath this pattern. But one of the most mainstream reasons that I’ll touch on today is what neuropsychology refers to as the “negativity bias”, which is actually a survival mechanism that has our brain and neural circuitry wired to collect evidence AND to look for bad news and the negative experiences in our lives.
After all, historically speaking, it was much safer to be on the lookout for what’s wrong or what could be dangerous and life threatening than it was to languish and indulge in how miraculous and beautiful your life was. God forbid, while you’re doing that, something could jump out of the bushes and attack you for its lunch.
Researchers have also found that animals, including humans, generally learn faster from pain than from pleasure and that negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intense positive ones. So, this pattern of thinking – this tendency towards the negatives and problems that needs to be fixed – is quite entrenched.
It’s been a while since I’ve listened to it, but many years ago, I watched a Ted talk given by Kelly Mcgonigal. http://kellymcgonigal.com/speaking/
She talks about a study that was done in which they tracked two control groups who were asked:
“How much stress did you have last year?”
“Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?”
What they discovered was that those who experienced lots of stress AND who believed it was bad for their health, had 43% more chance of dying.
The lowest risk of anyone in the study were those individuals who still experienced a high level of stress BUT who did not believe it was bad for them.
So, here is clear evidence of how much energy and power our thoughts, our perceptions and our attitude can have on our experience and our quality of life – even moment-to-moment.
So how do we break this pattern of thinking and get out of this trap?
Step 1: Identify what feels like the biggest problem you’re facing in your life right now. What are you perceiving as a problem that needs to be fixed, changed, gotten rid of, or corrected?
Instead of seeing it as a problem and loading all this judgment onto what is simply a neutral circumstance – which only feeds it more power and energy – start to make the separation between what is happening or not happening AND your view or attitude about it.
Step 2: Challenge whatever that attitude may be and flip it on its head. Make a 180* turn and ask yourself,
“What’s perfect about this? What is the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to evolve that is actually available to me here that I may not have recognized yet?”
Within every moment lies the potential for our suffering or empowerment. In every moment, we have the freedom to choose between our enslavement or our liberation into possibility and expansion.
You’ve probably heard the phrase: “bloom where you’re planted”, right?
And a similar concept comes from the Zen Buddhist tradition: “No Mud – No Lotus”. Rather than empowering your circumstance by believing that you’re a victim of it and that it needs to change in order for you to feel differently or feel better, how can you actually use the circumstance to empower yourself? How can you use it as a portal into greater freedom. How can you choose to bloom instead and to become that lotus that blooms out of the mud?
What if you just decided that it’s not a problem?
Remember that your way of relating to whatever you’re experiencing in your life determines your suffering and imprisonment OR your freedom, your peace, joy, and empowerment. Look for the perfection in whatever you may be currently perceiving as problem.
Use that mud as your opportunity to become that lotus that blooms despite any circumstance or situation you may be facing.