Think of all the times you have acted mindlessly for a moment. Actions, once taken, that melt into regret later. Words sharply stated that can never be taken back, no matter how hard you wish it. Feelings that overwhelm and overtake your ability to stay focused and clear-headed. Thoughts that seem to make your every day actions seem like endless hours of mediocrity and despair.
Now, think of this, how many times do you internally speak kindly to yourself when you have made a mistake, no matter how “big” it may appear to you? How often do you think of what your intention is before you express an opinion that can hurt or make someone else feel terrible about themselves? How many times do you try to give a friend some words of comfort, and find yourself thinking of all the things you want to say to them, rather than just listening to them speak and not interrupt or make comments? I could go on, but I think you are getting the idea.
Truth hurts and looking at ourselves thru the lens of clarity rather then distortion, can be painful. In fact, I too have said many words and thought many things that I regretted afterward….things that might have been expressed out of anger, sadness, embarrassment, disappointment, grief, loneliness, etc that I can never take back. Sometimes, I have said things, that at the time seemed to be just what needed to be expressed or said, when in fact their was so little thought as to the impact those words would have on someone else. I think I am safe in saying most, if not all of us, have done the same thing at one time or another.
To understand mindfulness and its ability to bring our thoughts and actions into the present is to be aware of what we were doing in a way that causes no harm to ourselves and others. When we sit and stew for hours over some slight we feel was made to us, we fool ourselves into thinking we are helping ourselves to process. But, what we are in fact doing, is not allowing ourselves to move on, to move forward, to become unstuck from an endless cycle of “should of, could of, would of” that in many instances, just serves to make us feel worse.
Mindfulness matters because with out it, our actions become mindlessly driven and can cause not only others to feel terrible, but ourselves as well. Ellen Langer, PhD states that “Social psychologists argue that who we are at any one time depends mostly on the context in which we find ourselves. But who creates the context? The more mindful we are, the more we can create the contexts we are in. When we create the context, we are more likely to be authentic. Mindfulness lets us see things in a new light and believe in the possibility of change.”
I think this is an empowering statement that can open doors to our potential. If we all spent less time expecting everyone and everything to conform to our ideal and spent more time being mindfully aware of the fact that doing anything less leads to our own unhappiness, discord and dissatisfaction, we can free ourselves in ways that propel us forward through life.
It is not easy, and it takes practice. So, next time you feel the heady, overpowering rush of mindlessness upon you, choose to notice its intoxicating grip and choose to be aware of your feelings at play, explore what your intention might be, and how you can learn to be with those feelings and not react mindlessly. This, over time, will open doors to feeling more and more at ease with life and less disconnected to ourself and others.