Losing a loved one, losing a relationship, losing a job, losing health – this is what I call the big stuff. These things are going to happen through our lives, they are unavoidable and when they do in some way we need to learn how to respond.
Loss and change are part of the human condition, big stuff is going to happen and at some point we hope we will be able to move through it, learn, process, let go, make peace.
However the small stuff now this is different. So what is the so called small stuff..the guy who doesn’t call you back after the second date, the girl who forgets your name, even though you have met her 3 times, the meeting at work in which you can’t get your words out clearly. But are these really small things? These so called small things are where we get stuck. Huge life transitions are hard but we get through them, they can be empowering and powerful in how they deepen our insight and acceptance of the true nature of life.
It is the small things were we get stuck, recycling in our minds when things don’t go our way, telling ourselves we messed up again, mulling over this or that, perpetuating a cycle of low level dissatisfaction with life.
When we are in love, with friends, on a night out, laughing we lose connection with disatisfaction and move back into enjoyment of the here and now. But often once distraction is removed it is easy to fall back into a grey space. This space is where the automatic thoughts take over, the why did I say that, what will I do in the future, where will I live, do I like him, will I have a takeaway tonight..maybe I’m putting on weight.
Seemingly harmless but the exact moments we need to stay awake, we need to sweat the small stuff. We need to notice when our minds drift on to these thoughts, as they are all attached to low level assumptions, beliefs about ourselves and others that can easily tip us into a low mood, frustration, fear, depression, judgement.
The small stuff, triggers us to remember all the other little instances when things haven’t worked out they way we thought we wanted them too. Till we are caught in the fog of our minds, going over and over the smallest, insignificant issues and creating a whole disastrous story line that we play along in the background of our day.
So we need with love and compassion to ‘Stop, breath, come back’
We need to CHOOSE to wake up when we notice we have become lost. Choose to come back to this moment right now, this moment, this reality. We can choose every moment to come back, no matter how many times we lose ourselves in our minds, we can choose over and over to come back here and now.
Every moment we come back is a moment we can make a choice not to get caught up in ‘the small stuff’ and instead feel joy and gratitude for the wonderful, mundane, every day, imperfect perfection of being alive in this very moment.
Check out Tara Brach’s reflections on how we learn to respond rather than react to our thoughts.