Day 266 - Not Always So...
I do best when I have slogans to help unstick my very sticky mind. Slogans or catchphrases help me find solution in times when I normally panic or act out of habit. "Not always so" is one that I use all the time to show me that I have yet again fallen into a mental groove that leads me to black and white thinking. Some examples:
I am never going to:
Fall in love again - Not always so
Eat sugar - Not always so
Finish projects at my house - Not always so
Or I am always going to:
Hate my body - Not always so
Be single - Not always so
Feel stuck - Not always so
This little phrase helps me see that I have made everything super concrete in my thinking and this phrase creates a little space for some other alternative to come to the surface.
It doesn’t seem to matter which direction I am headed - toward something good or something not so good, my mind always (see I just did it again) wants to make things hard, steadfast and absolute. But that is not really living life. There are only a few absolutes in this life:
And some of us don’t even experience the first two. Some of us die before we ever get old or sick. So really there is just one absolute in life, death. Pretty cheery! But this is news you can use...if death is the only absolute, then everything else can be in play. If we are all going to die, why the hell aren’t we living it up while we are here? Why would we waste one precious moment of this life making things so solid and unbending? Why would we not embrace the fluidity of life and seek to admire and be amazed by the ever changing landscape?
I feel like a lot of us walk around in one of three conditions:
Passion or craving
Aggression or aversion
Ignorance or indifference
I am going to sue Pema Chodron’s examples here because they get right to the point and are humorous:
Passion or craving completely rules our life. We are sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon but all we can think about is that piece of chocolate cake we are craving.
Aggression or aversion come into play where we are sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon but all we can think about is the angry words we said to someone 10 years ago.
Ignorance or indifference is when we are sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with a paper bag over our head.
I love her examples because I can totally relate.
"Not always so" helps me in each situation:
Passion or craving - I want that chocolate cake and all I can do is think about getting it. I tell myself stories about how I need it, want it, deserve it and I can think “Not always so.” And I am freed from the thought rabbit hole.
Aggression or aversion - I am totally pissed and am writing a story in my head about what an asshole you are and how you did me wrong or that I am such an asshole and will always be that way and “Not always so” stops me short in my story spinning and again, I am free to think about the situation differently.
Ignorance or indifference - I find myself with a bag over my head and I can stop the thoughts that tell me that I belong with a bag over my head or that I don’t really have a bag over my head, or that I am always going to have a bag over my head and “Not always so” gets me outta that denial super quick.
Not always so is just one slogan or phrase that can be used to interrupt my habitual and non-evolved response. So much of what I do is reactive, “Not always so” helps me see that whatever I am making solid is not really solid all the time. It creates some space and I can move on. But sometimes I can’t. Sometimes “Not always so” helps me see that I can’t always do the right thing. Sometimes I need to see that I have my “A” game and sometimes I do not. “Not always so” helps deflate my ego when I concoct the story that I have my shit together and under control.
Like I said, death is really the only thing that is always so. But not really because if you are reading this, it isn’t so right now. So even death can abide with “Not always so” and that is pretty cool.
Somedays I wonder if I am going to really write a post every single day for the rest of my life. Somedays that seems impossible and other days it seems doable. What I know for sure is that nothing, absolutely nothing is always so and so I can relax and just not worry about what isn’t here and write the damn blog today. I did it today but that may not always be so...