A Healthy Stepmother . . . lets go, even more.

So, you’ve decided to let go and chill’ax, as the teenagers in my life used to say. In your chill’axing, maybe you’ve begun to notice that you still want to say things when you had decided you could let go. I wonder, how many times have you actually stopped yourself from saying something?

Without beating yourself up about how many times you did say or do something, just consider how many times you let it go. Once, twice, 10 times, 20 times? Even if it was just one time, you’ve found the beginning of the change. Actually, let’s be technical, once you can notice yourself doing the saying or doing or whatever it is you would really like to let go of, you have begun. Noticing and knowing what it is you do, feeling the urge and watching yourself do the thing you don’t want to do, that is awareness. And, a great place to begin.

Mostly, we judge ourselves successful only if we actually do the letting go behavior, i.e. not making the comment, not doing the laundry, or not jumping up to take care of something that any other person in the house could care for.

Let go of your stony silence.

I watched myself the other day. I definitely said a few comments that came out strained and sounded critical. But there were 10 other things in the space of a 45-minute meal that I didn’t say, that didn’t come out of my mouth. And, later in the evening, another 6 things that stayed in my head.

One of those times, I came so close to making a comment and yet didn’t. It was literally on the tip of my tongue and I stopped it. I could feel my posture and the urge to say it, to spit it out. I felt like I was leaning forward with my head, my mouth, even my jaw. And, I just waited there, a little bent forward. And then, I waited some more. Pretty soon, the leaning forward softened and I relaxed and went back to the emails I was sending.

The next day I saw a copy of the Tao Te Ching at the acupuncturist’s and opened it to my favorite passage, number 15. Midway through that verse was . . .

Who can by stillness, little by little
make what is troubled grow clear?
Who can by movement, little by little
make what is still grow quick?

The translation was by Ursula LeGuin and I knew that all the translations of the Tao Te Ching were slightly different. But, I liked it as much as I liked the translation of that verse by Stephen Mitchell, which I say over and over and over in my head.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

So, do you?

Do you have the patience to wait, to be nice to yourself and just wait? Do you have the ability to not beat yourself up while you wait, while you make mistakes, while you analyze and notice and learn about your reactions? Do you? Patience is not a flagellator. Stillness is a calm, quiet moment, not a disruption by your critic or your editor about your previous behavior.

Calm, still, patience, wait. And, when you see what your next move is, you’ll be able to take it. And, when you make a blooper that’s a whopper, you’ll know what to do to repair that one too. It’s a process. Life is a process and no one said you had to get it just right every time. Chill’ax!

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