Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Living In Expanding Circles

How do you go through your day? How do you go through the parts that are not particularly exciting or fun? We all have to get certain things done, and sometimes these chores are not too pleasant. Sometimes, when we really don’t want to do them, we become resentful, negative and even start blaming others for the drudgery that we think we have to go through, e.g., “if everyone was more cooperative and helped out, the house wouldn’t get so messy”. Yet our lives are probably mostly (time wise) made up of all of these things that need to get done. So how can we make it through the day without frustration and negativity?

I decided to take a seemingly insignificant scenario and go through the potential negative possibilities of dealing with it. Let’s pick my kitchen floor that has gotten so dirty from running in and out of the kitchen with our new puppy to go outside in the rain, etc.

Step 1: Identification
I am not happy with the way the kitchen is a mess all the time and never stays clean.
Step 2: Evaluate and Label
The kitchen is dirty.
Step 3: Judgment
I am a slob and I am not a good dog owner.
Step 4: Condemn
I’ll never be able to have a clean house, might as well get used to it. My life, the way it was is over.

In this process, the steps follow each other rather quickly and once you get to step 4, you can’t get out. It is all very logical and methodical.

Now let’s play out this scenario with a different set of steps:
Step 1: Observe
I am not happy, why is that?
Step 2: Notice
I am unhappy because my kitchen floors are always dirty these days.
Step 3: Allow
Wow, this is really bothering me. I wonder if it is because we are having a party this weekend, or am I judging myself, or am I worried the dog will never be house trained, etc. I’ll sit with this for a little bit. It feels really sucky. Do I need to do something, or do I wait?
Step 4: Choose
I’ll clean my kitchen floors.

What is different in the second process, is the amount of time spent in step 3 or in allowing. You might hit some judgments there, but since you’re allowing them to hang out, you don’t have to do anything or stay in that space for too long. Just the word, allow, itself is liberating as opposed to judgment which is restricting. In the second process, judge if you must, but then observe yourself after you’ve judged yourself. Does it feel good? How could or would you feel good? Once you recognize judgment for what it is, it won’t stick.

Also, you can go back to step 1 and observe some more. This process is not logical, it is free and there are no rules. When we allow ourselves to feel and be whatever we are feeling at the moment, it won’t stick. When we judge unconsciously, condemnation is the next logical step. Once you forget what you were just doing (judging yourself), you’ve fallen in its trap. The trick here is to stay awake and aware the whole time. And believe me, I know it is hard when you have 25,000 things to do in one day.

So here are your choices of processing in any situation: identify, evaluate and label, judge, and condemn. This is what I call “living in small and restrictive boxes”. Or: Observe, notice, allow and choose. The second process, what I call “living in expanding circles” is flowing, open, and empowering. Notice what process you are using with yourself in your life, with others, what are others doing and what might they, or you do, to make life more liberating and expanding?

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