So…on with the theme of “what you focus on grows,”
It takes a tiny – minuscule- shift in thinking for huge changes to occur. HUGE!
I’m reminded of a story I was once told about an enormous boulder blocking the main road. There were all kinds of people walking along this road, as everyone had to go this way… Some people saw the boulder blocking their path, and sat down by the side of the road and cried. They gave up. Others jumped to blame- they cursed the King for not keeping the roads clear, they cursed the other people who crowded behind them as the road grew more and more congested…they cursed everything they could think of to curse, and felt only angrier and more miserable. Still others fell into co-dependent-ville, and ran around trying to make sure everyone else was okay with the boulder. Some were artists, and the boulder became their inspiration …they put on plays in which The Boulder featured symbolically, they painted it, they sang about it, they danced in front of it; and the Maggidim, of course, wrote and told stories about it. (wink wink, nudge nudge.)
Finally, the King, who was actually a woman (she didn’t want to be Queen as that was boring, so she was King) solved the problem.
“Hey everyone,” she said, in her most royal manner, “here is a chisel for each of you. Take one small pebble from the boulder, and carry it with you to remind you of the choice you made when you found this boulder in your path.”
So, each person took a small pebble. Soon, there was no boulder left, and the people continued on their way, each carrying a small pebble in their pocket.
What is your quickest reaction when there is a boulder in your path?
If you had a pebble in your pocket to remind you of that reaction, would you pause and make a different choice next time?
Deep stuff, Rivkah…so deep…
So, here’s the thing. I have been really ill, and, I have to admit it, GROUCHY as hell.
I’ve had interactions that in the past would have led me to jump into reacting with anger or snappiness; but since I’ve been doing all of this coaching work and life work and learning work and Maggid work and counseling work,
I’ve realized that it is possible to pause, breathe, distance, and then respond from a centered place, rather than the usual easy quick reaction.
Your quickest reactions are coming from your five-year-old self who still lives inside you! That is when our conditioned responses are formed – “conditioned response” is just a fancy phrase to describe each of our individual reactions, the ones we don’t think about.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to let a five year old make my decisions. She isn’t thinking; she’s just in a feeling/reacting place…but those reactions are choices, too. So with a small pause and a breath, I calm down that five year old, and make a decision from my adult self, who has learned that kindness is always a better choice, no matter how someone else might be behaving.
And guess what? This small change in the way I walk in the world has made huge changes in my life. The boulder is cleared from my path (see what I did thar…oh there you are, metaphor!), and I’m striding freely and confidently down the road.
But I am not perfect; I still fall into reaction, especially when I am tired or hungry or not feeling well…but I don’t want to beat myself up. If I tried to change everything all at once, I would get overwhelmed, and I would give up and go back to habit, which is comfortable even if it’s not serving me any more.
That’s what the pebble is for. Just carry a small pebble with you- don’t try to tackle the whole boulder. One tiny change in your life can clear the entire road.
Join me next week as I discuss the art of stretching a metaphor until it goes “Eep!” like a small furry animal.