Reducing emotional pain-a story
In study the Buddha and his philosophy about life, he said, “I teach one thing only, suffering and the end of suffering.” Then he proceeded to tell this story which I’m about to paraphrase.
One day the Buddha was talking with some students about ways to look at bad/painful/sad things that happen into a new way that allowed them more peacefulness and to feel a bit less at the mercy of “Bad” things happening. He told them that the amount of space we give an event relative to our entire perspective is the key factor. He used the metaphor of how salt can impact water to make his point.
Buddha said, “If you put a teaspoon of salt into a small glass of water, it’s going to have a very big and nasty impact on the taste of the water. However if that SAME teaspoon of water is put into a fresh water pond, the impact is very minimal to anyone drinking that water.”
He went on to explain that the more we can broaden our view of our lives and what’s in our lives, the lesser impact something bad is going to have on our lives. Salt, is always going to happen, we can’t change that but we can change the size of the “container” into which it falls.
Ahhh, as I have been thinking about that, it has helped me see that many times I’ve narrowed my world to focus so much of my time, attention and energy on what the bio-mom or skid or hubby is or isn’t doing. I did this thinking that my attention would lead to some sort of solution. Turns out that belief is wrong. In most cases it led to more moments of anger or frustration or pain. I see now that without realizing it I was reducing the size of my world, making it like a small glass that was then very negatively impacted by that one teaspoon of salt. If we can consciously choose to keep our hearts and minds aware of all the other things in our world, it can minimize that impact of the “salt.”
How do we do that? How can we expand our world when we’re faced with such infuriating or stupid or mean things happening in our Stepmom world? The first thing we have to do is the often the hardest; we have to make the choice to give it a try. That will interrupt many old patterns of thinking.
Practically speaking, what can we do?
1. Take a moment to count our blessings.
2. Start a new creative project.
3. Call a dear friend we haven’t talked with for a while and find out what’s going on in her world.
4. Get a jump on holiday shopping. (One year I did this and had all shopping completed by Labor Day.)
5. Make a list of the top 10 Dreams and Goals we want to achieve in our lives. make this list with your husband.
6. Get involved in helping someone else with their problems.
7. Make the effort to connect with people we love and who love us so we can be in the energy of kindness.
8. Begin to plan for something big, like vacation, house decorating or work project.
9. Give the family more positive attention. Start new rituals and traditions.
10. Start reading or listening to more books that support your beliefs and expand your hopes and dreams.
As we can make the conscious choice to expand the attention we give the good things in our lives, bio-moms and stepkids will still be doing their “salt-thing” but it can impact us in a diluted, less hurtful and costly way. As we feel ourselves rehashing events or slipping into the tunnel vision of thoughts that upset us, we can stop ourselves and use the “Power of the Pause.” We can ask ourselves, “Can I do anything now to change this situation?” Of the answer is
Yes,” Consider it. If the answer is “No”, make a new choice to put your attention on the other things in your lives that bring you joy, a sense of safety and peace of mind.
“Yes” Buddha says. “There will always be salt in our lives. Let’s do what we can to make the container as large as possible so it will not cause us suffering.” (Paraphrasing.)
©2005 Cathryn Bond Doyle. All Rights Reserved.