Letting Go

She remembers “getting in trouble” for going down the steps to look at the strawberry bed. To her, it was just a few steps. To him, out weeding in the garden, it was extremely windy and was the perfect opportunity for a mishap if a wind gust would knock her over. So he immediately told her to go back inside.

It’s interesting what the mind remembers and what it does not. As I walked into the house, to sit with my mother for the day, her mind was still on the event of the prior day and her “getting in trouble.” That's the first thing she told me about as I entered. She wasn’t dressed because “no one was there to assist with her shower” and yet, my father was just leaving the house as I was walking in. My gut tells me that it’s a conditioned response about what she remembers and what she does not. And over the years, she’s learned to remember the negative times of "getting in trouble" and has often let go of many of the happy, pleasant things that occur every day.

I suspect she’s not alone in this habit. Negativity often creates drama and attention. And often that’s what we crave - attention. As we learn from a very young age, when a parent isn’t paying attention, screaming and stomping will get acknowledged, even though it may be negative. Our media stories are full of drama, antagonism, conflicts, and distrust. And so we learn in our early years that what it takes to be recognized and rewarded with attention may often be negative behaviors. They become conditioned responses to what is happening around us.

I know this lesson is for me and not about my mother at all. During a recent conversation with my dad, I noticed that I was “hearing” the negative comments as he was describing a situation and I truly have no idea what else may have been discussed. I had conditioned myself to hear only the negative about this situation.

While scrolling through one of my social media feeds, I became aware of the feelings that bubbled up, depending on who was posting. I was amazed at the people that seemed to trigger a negative reaction from me, not just in my thoughts, but also in my body. Posts by people with whom I may have had a less-than-pleasant interaction were still bringing up anxiety, grudges and unkind thoughts about incidents that happened years ago. I was still allowing negative reactions to surface. I had never let go! My lack of conscious awareness had created within me, a vault of conditioned responses toward others.

I am thankful for this new awareness! I can now choose how I want to respond. It doesn't matter anymore what scenarios or events may have contributed to creating these beliefs and responses. I can choose to let go of these experiences that happened in the past. I can choose to respond with kindness to myself, to the situation and to the others who were involved. They are part of my past, and today I am choosing a kind and loving heart.

Today's practice:

Notice the people and situations that trigger your unconscious or conditioned negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Acknowledge and then let them go. As you breathe in, imagine yourself breathing in peace. As you breathe out, imagine the anxiety, frustration or anger flying away in the air. Do this until you feel your body relaxed and calm. Give thanks for this new awareness.

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