What Do You Let Bother You?
Believe it or not, you can choose.
I recall when my dog was just a pup. With his soul-stirring caramel eyes and mountains of pillowy fur, he looked like a cross between an oversized ice cream and a toy panda.
Four times a night, at least, he had to be taken to the garden. Otherwise, he’d deposit a parcel on the rug. As his surrogate parent, the job of making sure he reached a suitable flowerbed was mine, but I didn’t mind.
No matter whether the rain lashed, snow flurried, or wind howled, I wrapped myself up warmly and carried him to his favorite toileting spot outside.
Normally, I wouldn’t budge from my warm, cozy bed unless an avalanche approached. Being woken before dreaming ended naturally was a pet hate — I enjoy my dream world and snug four-poster somewhat more than gray mornings or raw nights.
The same was true when I cared for a tiny naked bird my cat popped at my feet. Straight from the nest, with only a few spikes of down poking through his pink skin, he was frail and helpless without me to feed him constantly.
What, I wondered, was the difference between those times I riled against unexpected noises and interruptions that roused me from my sleep or distracted me from my work during the day and occasions I felt nothing but compassion for my petite charges who needed attention?
The magic trick, aiding my utter cooperation without a jot of disgruntlement, stems from my story about what’s happening.
Having decided the fledgling and my puppy were more important than my shuteye, I could easily put myself out. Indeed, caring for them increased gratitude and a sense of warmth and love.
And the same is probably true for you. Noise, people, and circumstances sometimes leave you fuming, but similar situations don’t phase you at other times.
Like me, you tell yourself tales about what’s happening and decide whether circumstances are justifiable. When you imagine someone has slighted you — or life isn’t acting on your behalf — you resist the situation. You get angry or frustrated and inform yourself it’s not fair.
Occasionally, you’re right to be disconcerted. It’s essential to uphold boundaries and adopt self-care. Mostly, I suspect, simple aspects of life bother you needlessly, though.
You could tell yourself a better, more positive story to save yourself from falling into a mire of anxiety.
The easiest way to stop fantasizing that life is unreasonable and accept unwanted challenges is to note my resistance to the circumstances before me.
If I feel my anxiety rise, my heartbeat speed, and a frown on my forehead, my wise self interrupts. It reminds me it’s okay not to enjoy circumstances, but to resist is useless, and I might as well do the best I can with what I’ve got.
Recently, my husband went through a stage of waking me at night. He snores and often kicks out in his sleep. Indignation rose in my belly, and forehead creases were taking hold. So I paused and remembered I could fight circumstances or make the best of them.
It turns out, though, that late-night TV is rubbish, and I wasn’t to find solace in a decent movie while sipping cocoa. I could, however, listen to soothing brainwave entrainment, meditate, or catch up with my book.
My choice about how to react made all the difference between building resentment and making the situation okay.
We can all decide how to respond when life throws us a curveball. Will we fight and, with flushed cheeks, growl at the circumstances? Or take stock and concoct a helpful tale that makes the situation acceptable so it doesn’t bother us?
It took a while for my mindful practice of acceptance for all that occurs to seep in, but it was worth the effort. Currently, builders working on the house opposite my office make noise, and I love peace.
Somehow, though, I’m unperturbed to the degree that the bangs, shouts, and radio shows fade from my awareness. They don’t worry me because I don’t resist them and tell myself the situation’s unfair.
I’m so glad to have such a soothing trick at my disposal, as it’s made me lighter, happier, and smarter.
Maybe adopting the same strategy will help you, too.