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Do it anyway

Do it anyway

 

Kids jumping

I was babysitting my friend’s three-year old daughter the other day.  When I saw her wiggling in her chair while working on her puzzle, I gave her a little reminder to go try on the potty.  She stalled and protested, but finally started walking towards the stairs, waving her arm in front of her chest, eyebrows furrowed.

“This means I’m mad,” she said (as if I couldn’t tell).

“That’s ok,” I said.  “The potty still works when you’re mad.  You can do it if you’re mad, glad, happy, sad.”

I don’t think she appreciated my witty Dr. Seuss impression.

But the fact is that our emotions don’t get to decide what we do, and this interaction was a good reminder for me.

I know how liberating it felt the first time I realized that I could do something even if I felt afraid.  I could see that my belly felt tense, my heart was beating fast, my palms were sweating and yet I could still speak up or take a class or jump off the high-dive.  I was completely free.  Oftentimes the only sane response to fear is to ignore it.  (Of course there are times when we’re feeling appropriate fear because our survival is at stake, but I have no doubt that we’re all able to distinguish between that and just habitual fear coming from old stories.)

“And if you’re paralyzed by a voice in your head, it’s the standing still that should be terrifying you instead.” — Ben Folds Five

If we set the course of our days (and our weeks and our lives) when we’re clear, we can stick to it even if our emotional state changes.  We can hold to a deeper commitment and do what we know is in our best interest.

This doesn’t mean we should be emotionless robots.  Of course we want to feel the full-range of emotions.  It’s just that emotions no longer get the final word on what we choose.  They are one bit of information that we can take into account when appropriate and disregard when needed.

I don’t always want to meditate in the morning.  Sometimes the alarm goes off and my bed feels warmer and more comfortable than it’s ever felt.  But I’m giving the part of me that set the alarm the benefit of the doubt and getting up anyway.  Because I know that, for me, consistent meditation leads to greater clarity, ease, and creativity.

The paradox is that it feels good to be committed to something important – even when it doesn’t.

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(Image source: Hamad AL-Mohannnan)

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The Nuin Center
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Pittsburgh, PA 15206
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