Have you ever met someone who really “gets your goat”? Someone you’re perhaps obliged to hang out with but who has, for example, an annoying personality trait that you just can’t stand? If you’re human, I’m sure you have. 😉
Every time you encounter that person, whether what they have to say is actually valid or not, your perception of them is somehow coloured by the one thing that looms large in the foreground – that one thing you can’t stand about them.
An example from my own life is John. John is a compulsive talker He cannot abide silent pauses in conversations – even for a couple of seconds. He has to fill them with anything, often digressing in a meandering way from the general topic being discussed at the time.
What to do? One day, I decided to practice that which I know intellectually to be the case, but which often isn’t employed until things become unbearable. 😉
I finally realised that his behaviour probably wasn’t going to magically change overnight, so I simply let go of my judgement of it. In fact, I allowed myself to fully feel the feelings that arose when he was talking non-stop, and welcomed them – rather than resisting them. This seems counter-intuitive to most people, who imagine that “welcoming” something would allow it have a greater hold when in fact, the exact opposite is the case.
It is our resistance to things that make them persist. When we allow feelings (for example) free passage, rather than blocking them out, they will no longer bother us.
Has John’s behaviour changed at all as a result of this? Actually, it seems that it has in some measure. But of course, that could just be my corrected perception of him which, in the end, is all that matters. 🙂
How often do we hear the cry – or even find ourselves declaring, “I’m stuck!”
How many of us often feel that we can’t move forward because we feel we are lumbered with a recurring belief, attitude, or problem that we want to get rid of?
Several things occur when we discover this:
- We feel bad and judge ourselves harshly because we are still stuck with it after what is often a long period of time, thus compounding the original problem and its stickiness
- We look to others – a book, an authority figure, a teacher or a theory for an explanation. This may bring temporary relief, but we are often still stuck with the problem – except that now, we have one (or more) ways of explaining it or rationalising it!
- We try to control our minds, in the hope that doing so might prevent the behaviour or action from manifesting itself. (Have you ever tried controlling your mind for any length of time? Good luck with that! I can’t even predict what my next thought will be – can you?)
There is one main problem with all of the above: We are trying to get rid of something – rather than looking at it from a fresh point of view in order to fully examine its validity.
Trying to get rid of something never works, because we are pushing against the problem which actually makes it more real and “solid”. “What you resist persists.”
What does seem to work, in my view, is to simply experience the stuckness as it is – without any labels, descriptions, etc.
When we are able to do this, the problem simply dissolves or integrates rather than being resisted, thus freeing our “head space” and allowing us to move on, less burdened than we were before.
Often, fresh insights and ways forward will be “miraculously” revealed because of this resulting clarity.