You’re not alone. As humans, we sometimes allow past experiences to drag us down. But there is good news in the bad – the yin to the yang. Noticing when this happens is a step in the right direction.
According to my meditation teachers, and every magazine in Whole Foods, it’s called “being mindful”. And if there is ever a great practice to work on one’s mindfulness, it’s interacting with other people – especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
I started this column as a way to get out there. To have an excuse to be brave when I wasn’t so sure if I could do it on my own. The column was also a reason to be accountable and force myself to go through with random dates (turns out, deadlines are a really good way to do that).
I’m a big believer on taking advantage of times in life such as career moves, living environments, and milking the single life for all it has to offer and, Lord, has dating proven to be one of the biggest self-growth challenges one can do. Dating, it turns out, is the best way to get to know yourself. Your likes and dislikes become as apparent as sit across the dinner table from someone new. Your wants and don’t wants flash like bright neon lights deep down inside. For example, let’s say you went on (what you thought was) a successful date. The night ends and you head home. Now come the questions:
Is he or she into me?
Is he or she going to call?
What did he or she mean by that?
Loops of dialogue crowd your mind and it’s a dangerous and energy draining place to be. And mind you, this is only the first date! The story-telling capacity our brain is capable of (particularly the female brain) is pretty incredible. It’s Oscar-worthy and Pulitzer Prize-winning content. Even as I type, I am struggling to shut down crazy-ass stories of what is, what could, and what will be. If being mindful of our crazy brain is considered a practice, and practice makes perfect, then we’ve all got the potential to hit the level of mastery.
It’s a constant crusade to work within the present while acknowledging feelings that may arise (better known as “baggage from the past”). Starting anew expresses an effort to handle ourselves in a different way by not wanting to make the similar mistakes from before.
For example, feeling triggered when a person says or does something is only the beginning. Noticing that you feel vulnerable and/or pissed is the easiest part of the practice and changing your usual reaction is the hardest. Not reacting requires you to pause, take a breath, and question why you’re feeling triggered. Being able to control your thought process is the difference between enjoying yourself in the long run or bringing yourself down the rabbit hole of self-doubt.
I’ve been reviewing text messages from several girl and guy friends over the past week, and the underlying theme is prominently, fear. As a dear friend says, fear is working from scarcity rather than abundance. How do we fix this? By chilling the F out. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to “do it right this time.” All that pressure pushes us out of the now and into the “Now what am I supposed to do?” If anything, don’t get ahead of yourself. And if I am saying this to anyone, I’m saying it to myself.