I was on vacation in Mexico last week and I swam in the ocean that was recovering from a west coast hurricane-like condition. The waves were massive. Formidable.
The recent eruptions of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano have been described as awe-inspiring and incredible.
When we look at nature and respond to its power and force, we generally describe it in terms that befit its epic-ness. And at the same time, we’re almost neutral about it. In other words, we don’t judge it. Nature is just doing its thing. It is what it is.
How often, though, do we describe ourselves (and others) with descriptions that are loaded with self-criticism and negativity and we shut ourselves down because of it?
Partly we do this because we are habituated to do so. Our mindlessness – meaning our running commentary of ourselves and others (and events) – generally is caught in conditioning based on our past and therefore not mindful.
It’s not being generated from the present moment.
The Harvard psychologist, Dr. Ellen Langer, says that when we’re not mindful, we are “Frequently in error, never in doubt.”
We go to an audition and do a great job in the moment. But later, we process it in error and instead see only the mistakes we made. The fumbled lines or the nervousness or the awkward moments we experienced. We then retell the same story differently. Meaning, we no longer believe we did a great job – we instead have no doubt about how bad we were. And that becomes the defining story of ourselves we tell.
If mindlessness makes us be frequently in error, never in doubt, then we become skewed toward seeing things incorrectly, and we don’t doubt seeing things incorrectly.
What that does is create a closed system. We begin to see the world – the business, people, relationships, our possibilities as actors – in a pre-set, determined, and often, limited way.
That’s not only mindlessness, that’s also just not true.
We want to try and see things more neutrally specific. Mindfulness helps us do that naturally. We see things as they are, not as we project meaning onto them.
We stop seeing things from a singular perspective and instead see things in totality, which are how things really exist.
So the challenge is looking at the restrictions we create for ourselves about the business, success, relationships, possibility and ultimately, ourselves.
For to begin seeing ourselves the way we would see a thunderstorm or hurricane
would mean seeing ourselves from a new perspective. Less judgmental and more affirming. Less negative and more neutral. Less limited and more open to interpretation.
In other words, error-free.