Resilience: Noticing Everything that is Going More than All Right
As we learned in this interview with James Baraz, we can shift out of feeling stuck or overwhelmed by radically shifting our perspective. Here’s an exercise from Resilience in “What Story Am I Believing Now?” that helps us create exactly that shift.
Exercise: What Story Am I Believing Now?
In addition to tracking the felt sense of your experience moment by moment, including any moments of emotional pain, it’s useful to notice any thought loops you might be stuck in. A running joke in meditation circles is that once you start paying attention to your thoughts, you notice that you have a Top Ten playlist that you hear over and over. If you can notice those loops, you can shift them, too.
1. Check in with yourself at regular intervals throughout the day. What am I thinking about right now? More importantly, how am I thinking about it? Lightly and freely? Ruminating and worried? Stuck in a loop?
2. Record your observations in a journal for a week. Again, there’s no shame or blame; you’re just seeing clearly.
3. At the end of the week, see if you can identify your five most often-repeated thoughts or your five most often-repeated patterns of thinking. (Refer to the list above in exercise 6-4 if that’s helpful.)
4. Choose one single repetitive thought to practice with. Practice noticing and letting it go, noticing it and letting it go. You want to receive the messages, but you don’t want to be stuck in an endless loop.
Once the thought catalyzes some constructive action, some skillful behavior, you can let it go.
Letting go of a thought or story can be a novel experience. You want to make sense of your experience, using the tremendous power of your prefrontal cortex. But when you can let go of one possible explanation and open your mind to the possibility that there might be others, you strengthen your response flexibility. Letting go can allow you to be open to other, more resilient choices.