Being Trouble Free
Being Trouble Free
Leaders and others who make small and consistent efforts in the direction of working mindfulness enjoy more personal power and self-control. They are centred during challenging situations and with other people. If we want to be in the moment and have more time and energy, we must be rigorous in observing how we process people and events.
Lurking out there right now is some situation, person, or event that may catch you off guard. It could have the power to agitate you, the power to create stress, could make your thinking negative, push your buttons and lay waste to your energy and ruthlessly kill all your time. This happens when we are not aware.
In a few quiet moments sometime today, hold your attention on your breathing for some time. Did you notice your attention wandering? If we are honest and check, we find that most of the time, our minds are running us and we are pulled along like a dog on a chain. We are not aware that we have given up control of our own thinking to our conditioning and stories playing out in our minds.
Holding our Attention
You may identify with some of these comments:
“Funny, my mind just went somewhere and I wasn’t aware.”
“It was like I was not there.”
“I started thinking automatically.”
“I noticed that I was starting to dwell on other things.”
If we have so little control over our thinking when focusing on something simple like our breath, imagine – or even better – look directly at what happens to your thinking during trying and stressful times, difficult situations, and your response to unexpected negative news or results. When someone pushes our buttons we tend to quickly lose control.
One of the keys to learning how to be more present and more in control of ourselves is to reserve some of our awareness for what we are thinking. This gives us the power to not make trouble out of reality and the events taking place around us.
The Trouble Test
Trouble occurs when we are dwelling on something without there being a true intention or possibility of taking action now. Think of ‘dwelling’ as thinking, focusing, or where our attention is. There are two conditions to this test, intention and possibility. How do you apply this test?
Applying the Test
What does dwelling without having a true intention or possibility of taking action now look and feel like? If you are stressed this very moment, agitated or negative in any way, notice your thinking. Does your thinking match the two conditions in the test? Are you dwelling on something without there being a true intention or possibility of taking action now?
Examples of the Test Holding True
Some examples include focusing on what should be happening but doing nothing about it. For example, complaining, ‘if only so and so would change’, and doing nothing about it, or worrying about what might happen in the future. When we worry about something in the future we are spending our present time and energy on events that have not occurred yet. Endlessly what-if-ing our future destroys our strength and capacity to act now.
Focus on what can be done now
Only focus on the future to the extent that your focus compels you to take action now. Thinking in any other way is a sure fire way to lose time and energy. Focusing on how stressed we are, how much we have to do and repeating thoughts like “I’ll never get it all done”, or otherwise dwelling on future events that you have neither intention or possibility destroys your potential for action in the present moment. What can you do NOW?
The most important action for you to take is to look inside your own mind, be aware of your thinking and apply the test. In this way you will know directly which thoughts to avoid and which ones to encourage.
Reserving your Attention
Reserve some of your attention to what you are thinking particularly as you notice stress, your buttons pushed, or agitation arising in you. You will find that that these thoughts indicate no true intention to do anything about ‘it’, ‘him’, ‘her’ or ‘them’. Or you will find that no action is possible at this time. You will also see that these thoughts are creating stress, agitation, worry and negativity in you.
Pause & Reflect
Until we have developed our awareness and attention so that we can be present in difficult situations it is useful to pause and reflect just after the charged event or stressful situation. If this is not possible then at the end of your day recall what you were thinking (you may still be dwelling on it anyway). Then apply the test. What did this way of thinking do for you? Do you see any real benefits, changes or results?
Seeing what is going on in our minds is most important for our effectiveness, power and well-being. Situations and people come and go and the bad invariably follows the good. Since we cannot always change what happens on the outside, let us work on gaining more insight and power over how we process what we encounter day to day. In this way, no matter what happens, we avoid creating trouble for ourselves and stay focused on action.
Stop having your buttons pushed.
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From The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
Submitted by Andrew Burnham