If you hold an orange in your hand and just ‘be’ with the orange, what do you see, smell, feel?
An orange. That’s it.
We rarely allow our selves to just ‘be’ in any moment. Even now, besides reading this, where else is your brain? Your next client, your grocery list or perhaps your next spread sheet? (heaven help you, I hate spreadsheets!)
And so what do we do when we experience challenging emotions? Perhaps stressed about those spread sheets or a tough conversation we just had.
We let our brain take off with interpretations like a jet engine. That’s what we DO.
What’s that cost us? A lot
Let me give you an example.
It was my first day back after Christmas that I had appointments and meetings. I had worked all through the week prior, but I woke up with some apprehension about getting back into the real work swing of things.
I feel a sense of dread about going back, within a millisecond I hear the inner ‘beat up brute’ inside my head say, “Of course you feel this, you’re a lazy $*!” wow-she’s a little harsh, but she must be cute, because I keep her around.
Another voice “You don’t like to work” and the chorus of catastrophe chimes in so less than lovingly “How are you even going to keep your head above water? It'd be a miracle if you have any clients soon”, then thoughts of being impoverished and trying to find work, flood my brain.
This doesn’t happen over 20 min-this is all in a matter of a second.
Maybe I’m the only one that has a feeling, and then interprets that feeling and then catastrophizes, but I don’t think so.
What does this have to do with the orange-it has EVERYTHING to do with the orange.
The orange is a form of mindfulness. We experience the orange in that moment as it is. We don’t usually think of the orange squirting us in the eye, we don’t think of it rotting in a week. We allow ourselves to experience the orange, in that moment.
If we experience an emotion, especially a tough one; being with it with kindness, and don’t pile on a freight train full of thoughts and interpretations, suddenly makes things so much easier.
The thoughts about the dread I felt stayed with me for the better part of the morning.
AM I really lazy? What would I do if my businesses collapsed? How long could I survive? Would I need to pursue that pole dancing, back pocket back up plan?
What started with a wee bit of dread over going back to work had smeared my brain with self doubt and frankly crap.
What’s the alternative?
Be mindful and kind-that’s not easy
1. Notice the feeling or sensation, observe it like the orange.
2. Don’t judge it –it’s a feeling, like the orange, it has every right to be what it is.
3. Realize that whatever you’re feeling, it’s NORMAL-there are no right or wrong feelings.
4. Sprinkle on some sugary sweet self compassion so you can move through this and let this go.
Kristin Neff, a self compassion researcher, suggests that you speak to yourself as you would a friend. If your friends call you a ‘Lazy $*!’- get new ones.
I need extra help in this department (CLEARLY) so I also call myself ‘honey’ and rub my own arm. Wee fact, your brain can’t tell whether it’s someone else touching you or not and it picks up a signal that it’s being soothed and that’s all that matters.
Now when I feel a tough emotion, I’m trying to stop and I rub my arm saying ‘Honey, this is hard, you’re ok’ after all is just part of the fruit bowl of life and I want to be with and squeeze all of the goodness out of all them ‘oranges’.