I judge people.
We all do. It’s part of the human experience. And while some might say that the goal of a mindful life is to live free of judgment, I like to remind them (and really, myself) that living free of judgment includes judgment of the judgers. So, I judge. I notice. I correct… rinse and repeat.
This week I’ve done a lot of judging other people for what ruffles their feathers. Really? You’re upset about food spilling on your sweater? Or that you can’t get moving done today that movers are coming to do tomorrow? Or that you’re not going to get to have dessert after a day of eating every sweet thing you could get your hands on (that one was my son)? And it wasn’t even that I couldn’t understand why these things were upsetting… it was more that people held on to their upset when they were clearly in situations they couldn’t control. The sweater was covered in sauce, the moving wasn’t going to get done today no matter how badly you wanted it to, and eating your weight in goodies for lunch is a reasonable substitute for dessert. Let it go.
I started to interpret their distress as “they are letting stupid stuff upset them” because although I was aware that I sometimes let things upset me they’re definitely not stupid… And then I watched myself.
Things I have “let upset me” for longer than 2 minutes this week:
- Tablecloths that didn’t arrive at a party on time
- Not getting to arrange the fake snow drape on the table the way I had envisioned
- Being asked to fill up hot water bottles to warm the bed
- People asking me questions they think I should know the answer to
- Being asked to know my 2014 vacation plans
- Dinner plans changing from Vietnamese to Thai
- Ill fitting pants
- I could go on…
We all have a thing, sometimes things… big things… That thing that triggers us no matter the circumstances because it’s tied tightly to our core issue–that main lesson we’re here on this earth to learn in this lifetime. And, as it turns out, we have a lot of small things too. And none of them are stupid, they are all reflections of our feelings and needs and every emotional experience we have is valid.
The thing about that big trigger is that it’s trying to get our attention to give us information. It’s trying to tell us which direction to go, what to watch for, and how to begin the process of healing. And the small stuff, well… it’s distracting us. Yes, every conflict is a lesson. Yes, noticing your responses to things (even the small ones) can give you insight into yourself, others, and the world. And if we can stop, take note, and move on we are building up our resilience as learners to take the big trigger head on.
But when we get all wrapped up in the small stuff and are constantly being triggered, without pause for evaluation or self inquiry, we can’t tell the difference anymore between the little helper lessons and the GREAT BIG LESSONS!
I encourage you to give up sweating the small stuff (and it’s not quite all small stuff) so you can notice when the big stuff arrives and have the time, energy, and focus to work with it. Your life, even when it feels like it isn’t, is working with you to help you become the best version of yourself. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always painless. But it’s worth it.