Last updated January, 2017.
We received another question from a participant in our challenge, and felt it worthy of a post. It may be shorter than usual but, hopefully, you'll 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 emotions and feelings, and those emotions and feelings lead to urges, and actions/reactions. Without awareness, this process is somewhat automatic and instantaneous.
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 automatic reactions. Most of the time, however, everything unfolds without a lot of input from you: situation, thoughts, emotions, feelings, urges, actions/reactions.
With awareness, you see the process more clearly:
"Here is a situation, here are thoughts about the situation, here are emotions, feelings, and urges those thoughts lead to."
Now you are watching it. And, you begin to realize your actions and reactions don't have to be automatic - through awareness, you can exercise the ability to evaluate and act more skillfully.
S - P - A - C - E.
And, you start to see you don't have to be at the mercy of the next thought, emotion, or urge that pops into your head.
This is how your behavior and actions become a product of awareness, rather than conditioned and habitual. They cease being something that "just happens."
Or, put another way, you can respond instead of react.
We go through life distracted.
Whether you realize it or not, it's our normal state.
All of us are immersed in a never-ending stream of thoughts and emotions. They hijack our attention, and cause the struggles we deal with every day (read more)...
Our 21-day course
Awareness-based behavior therapy
If this article resonated with you, please "Like," "Tweet," or share so others can read it too (thank you)!