There’s a Buddhist story called The Two Arrows. When you are struck by an arrow it’s painful, yet unavoidable. Like when you are trying to dust your living room really fast and accidentally stub your toe on the TV stand. Naturally you would say, “Ouch!” Or in my case, “FUCK!” because I cuss like a trucker when Magnus is not around.
The second arrow is the one you shoot yourself, like when you say to yourself, “How could I be so stupid?!” The second arrow is the suffering and completely optional.
We will always stub our toes or catch an edge on your ski wiping out right in front of the chair lift in front of a line of people who are better skiers than you so they have to STOP the lift so the chair doesn’t hit you (can you tell this actually happened to me, yesterday?).
Life happens, and sometimes it’s painful or embarrassing.
We can avoid the suffering by not buying into the story that follows afterwards. The story is old conditioning and doesn’t have any grounding in the reality here now. Were there better skiers waiting to get on? Maybe. Were they annoyed and totally inconvenienced by me falling? Probably not. Did they even care? I doubt it.
If this had happened years ago, I would have felt my face flush with shame and fought hot tears as I tried to get on the chair clutching the little dignity I had left. I would have blamed the conditions, my skis, anything to feel better about how I felt. I would have made a story about it and myself and what a loser I was and how could I do this and I’m never skiing again!
I would have created suffering for myself.
This time, I was shaken because I didn’t know if they could stop the chair or I would get clobbered by it falling a second time. All that happened was the lifty and my friend asked if I was okay. I laughed and said fine, got on the chair thanked the lifty for her exceptional concierge service, and that was it.
This is one of the magical side effects of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness creates a space between the inner voice and the part of you that’s noticing the voice. This allows you to notice the thought instead of BELIEVING the thought, and that’s where you can start becoming free from it.
Next time you notice the voice that criticizes and judges you try this:
- Be aware of the thought. As I mentioned earlier, most thoughts are compulsive conditioned thought processes. Being aware of the thought creates space between you and the thought.
- Label it by saying to yourself, “There’s that mean voice telling me what a loser I am again.”
- Choose another more compassionate thought to replace it with, “Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, it’s okay if I make them too.”
- Remind yourself that this is just a thought and that doesn’t make it true.
You can’t hate yourself better. Nothing can grow in toxicity. Even houseplants wither if you say mean things to them (google IKEA bully a plant).
We all need a safe, nurturing environment to thrive, and that means in our minds too. Mindfulness is a powerful tool to help rewire our minds to be a more compassionate and nurturing place to be.
You can grab a few of my most loved Mindfulness Meditations free here:
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you struggle with negative self-talk? What was your most recent embarrassing moment? Tell me in the comments, I want to hear all about it!