My mindful Monday resolution for last week was “to use every opportunity to get angry as an opportunity to develop patience”.
Let’s just say that “patience” is a virtue that I’ve struggled all my life to develop in any significance. As a result negative emotions such as frustration, irritation, and anger comes easily to me – it doesn’t take much to drive me crazy. And it’s astonishing how every time I regret the consequences of my anger and yet I never learn to take control of it. This past week, I’ve made a conscious effort to take control of the negative emotions and turn them around to a “silver lining” – that of developing patience toward the circumstances that irk me.
Meditating every morning to contemplate the quality of my mind and working through these negative emotions without judging myself was hugely helpful. Taking deep breaths and looking up to contain my thoughts without reacting to them also helped quite a bit. Here are a few other tactics that I used that have had a positive impact on the quality of my mind, albeit tremendous work still needs to be done:
Slow Down: I have a tendency to rush everything for no good reason and want everything done immediately. Standing in long line ups at grocery stores, waiting for elevators, missing the bus by a second are all circumstances that frustrate me. If that sounds like you, take a few deep breaths and distract yourself. Enjoy the view, read the magazines at the check out counter, strike up a conversation with the person behind you. Remind yourself that getting impatient isn’t going to help you so why get worked up for no good reason?
Consider the alternative perspective: All negative emotions such as anger, frustration, impatience is our mind’s way of dealing with lack of perspective. And it’s normal to have a limited perspective because after all we just have two eyes and one brain. I’ve gained some reasonable amount of success in overcoming the negative emotions by forcing my mind to consider an alternative perspective. For example, like most mother and daughter relationships, there are times I can’t help but get angry with my mother. But instead of expressing my anger in hurtful ways (Yup! you can’t really express anger politely), I’ve started to consider her perspective. And if I didn’t understand her perspective, I’ve started asking her questions so I know what it feels like to be in her shoes. Not only does this exercise help me overcome my anger and refrain from saying hurtful things to my mother but it also helps me develop patience in dealing with her.
See the big picture: How often have you caught yourself getting angry at little things, at things that don’t matter or add value to your day-to-day life? The other day I lost my cool on how late the bus was even though I knew I would get into work on time. Self-talk and remember what really matters – does it matter the bus was late or does it matter that you got to work on time? Be kind, be generous, be thankful for what you have (at least the bus showed up :P) and focus on what matters the most. Soon you will find yourself being patient with the world around you – you don’t deserve to be stressed out and the world needs some loving.
I must tell you that it wasn’t easy. We’ve been reacting to situations our entire lives and it takes great effort to watch that mind of ours. While I was able to overcome my anger and develop patience towards the world, I completely ignored myself. I started getting angry and frustrated at myself at how often I was entertaining negative emotions. It was a rude awakening and I spent the weekend being harsh on myself.
Now that’s an opportunity to develop patience towards yourself, an opportunity for a new Mindful Monday Resolution. Check this week’s resolution out on my Chalkboard.