I remember a time my husband asked me to coach him as he prepared for an upcoming performance review. This is something I used to get paid big bucks to do as a sought after career strategist, so I helped him create a document outlining his accomplishments and major contributions, which he would submit to his boss before their meeting. Then, one night while we were brushing our teeth before bed, he casually mentioned that he had gotten the date wrong and missed the deadline for submitting support materials for his review. My jaw dropped, and an army of accusatory thoughts lined up in my mind; I barely managed to stop myself from unleashing a rapid-fire interrogation.
Then the next day I experienced a series of stressful setbacks — a schedule glitch, a miscommunication, a technical malfunction, a lost check, a plan that fell to pieces — and suddenly everything felt like it was going from bad to worse. I was trying to wrap up an intense week filled with lots of deadlines before leaving town on a family beach vacation, yet my swirling negative thoughts were preparing to morph from a small dust devil into a powerful full-scale tornado that would ruin the family getaway for everyone.
But something surprising happened. After stewing for a few minutes on all that had gone wrong, I paused, which has been one of the many benefits I’ve received from a regular morning meditation practice. Within that pause, I recognized this familiar emotional terrain — how my body was now constricting and tightening. I asked myself, “Do you really want to succumb to this downward spiral of negative thoughts? Is this really where you want to go and who you want to be?” Of course, it wasn’t. I wanted to be open, loving, spacious and compassionate. What I really wanted was to just let go of all my negative reactions. And so I did.
Actor Larry Eisenberg reminds us, “For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.”
Not every situation ends this successfully. Sometimes the allure of a good argument takes me down an old worn path. But increasingly, I’m learning to pause, check in with myself, to challenge my old habits and make sure I like the destination this particular train is headed. If I don’t, I wave it on and consciously choose to L.E.T. G.O.
Sick and tired of old habits, patterns and pushing to make things happen? Would you like to experience more ease, joy and flow in your life? I invite you to join me this Thursday, Jan. 9th for New Way of Being: Learning to Go with the Flow (a 4-week telecourse for men/women) where I’ll teach you strategies and tools for how to let go … and go with the flow. Learn more here (but hurry, only a few spots left!). All classes will be recorded and you can choose to actively participate or sit on the sidelines and observe. It’s all good.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work/life balance speaker/author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. Her newest release is Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 11 year-old son. More on her background here.