It is 5.45am. My alarm sounds. I am cocooned under my soft duvet, protected from the chilly morning air.
My alarm sound grows louder.
Even though I chose a more zen alarm tone, windchimes are still jolting to this sleeping person. I do not like the wind chimes at this moment.
I am not ready to let the day in. It will be an insanely busy Monday.
I snuggle up under my sheets a little more, nestle my cheek more deeply into the pillow.
“I slept almost 6 hours,” I am lucid enough to calculate in my head.
A few more minutes of rest seem justifiable.
I turn to my phone to snooze it but pause. The day’s “shoulds” and “have-tos” flood my mind:
“I should wake up.”
“I have so much to do today”
“I should meditate.”
“I am on deadline.”
“I have to make lunches.”
“The kids will be up soon.”
If I were hooked up to an EKG monitor, you would see the kick-up in my heart rate as the growing mental task list declares itself. My monkey mind has begun its daily dance.
It is impossible to stay in bed now.
I am groggy, grumpy and resentful of my alarm. Of my day. Of my life.
This is textbook resistance. Resisting what is.
I experience this feeling of hating and resisting my life multiple times a day – when doing something simple like listening to voicemails (why can’t Apple invent a tool like Google has?), when writing the next speech I have to give (a blank page is the worst inspiration) or with mundane tasks like paying bills (a joy-less endeavor).
But, I recently came across a technique that I decide to try this morning, for when the “shoulds” and “have-tos” take over –
I think of it as a mental find and replace technique, similar to what you would do in a Word document:
With the subtle, empowering edit, resistance around things can change. Menial tasks can be transformed. No matter the task, you can become at ease with life.
“I GET to wake up today,” I think.
Isn’t that the truth? I am lucky to be able just to wake up this morning and live my life, a gift not granted to everyone on this day. How quickly that puts my task list into perspective:
“I’m lucky to be able to work on submitting a gazillion health insurance claims today,” as my focus turns to feeling grateful for having health insurance.
My mindset shifts again.
It makes sense that my brain would respond. There is science-backed research showing that gratitude changes your brain. Studies also show a link between gratitude and a balanced mind, good health and happiness.
My monkey mind takes off thinking about all the other things I am lucky to able to do: for my hands being physically able to make lunches, for having a profession that allows me to share myself with others and for the gift of having so many chances to contribute to my family, my work and others today.
And with that small shift, I whisper “thank you” aloud and begin making my bed with a hint of a smile on my face.
My task list didn’t disappear or ease. But the resistance I brought to it did.
The next time you find yourself dreading or avoiding something, try experimenting with the “find and replace” technique for your “have tos” and notice what mental shift happens in how you approach your day.
Share your experience with me in the comments section below.
Your “find and replace” habit is brilliant. Simple and effective. And the reframe is so empowering, taking control of our own lives. Thank you this wisdom Shibani.