We received another question from a participant in our challenge. We felt it worthy of a blog post - it may be shorter than usual, but hopefully you will find it insightful!
"I am told I have a 'short fuse' and I'm quick to jump to conclusions. I understand being aware of your thoughts, but I'm not sure I understand how being aware of my thoughts really does anything for me when it comes to this problem and my daily life. Does it, and if so can you explain?"
This quote from Bhante Henepola Gunaratana provides some insight into the above question:
"Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom. You don't have to be swept away by your feeling. You can respond with wisdom and kindness rather than habit and reactivity."
Right now, you are conditioned to act certain ways in certain situations. If that person does "X," you do "Y." That other person - if they do "A," you do "B."
Your spouse or your children? If they do "this," you do "that."
Thoughts give rise to feelings and emotions, and those feelings and emotions lead to urges, actions, and reactions. Without awareness, this process is usually automatic.
Someone cuts you off in traffic? You get mad and honk your horn. And, perhaps, make an obscene gesture (or, curse them under your breath).
Sometimes you are able to stop yourself from an automatic reaction. Most of the time, however, everything unfolds without a lot of input from you: situation, thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges, actions and reactions.
With awareness, you see the process more clearly:
"Here is a situation, here are my thoughts about that situation, here are the feelings, emotions, and urges that those thoughts create."
Now you are watching it. As a result, you no longer have an automatic reaction. You've created
You are no longer at the mercy of the next thought, emotion, or urge that pops into your head. And, your actions become a product of awareness. They aren't something that "just happens."
Or, put another way, you can respond instead of react.
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