If I asked you for the three most powerful words you’d use to change a situation, what would you offer? Maybe:
- I love you.
- I forgive you.
- I trust you.
- I am OK.
- I am worthy.
Yep. These are magic words that change lives. I want to offer you three more
Just stop it.
Imagine a time when your mind was wracked with a grievance, you were feeling bitter, resentful or besieged, and your mind was racing overtime trying to rationalize what just happened or plot your vengeance.
Or, think of a time when you felt like you were out of control and you wanted someone to change (think family, close friend or spouse, for starters) and they wouldn’t, no matter what you did or said.
Situations like these trigger my got-to-be-in-control impulse and send my brain into overdrive. I rationalize. I judge. I think about getting even.
While this is going on, I also try to think my way into a better place. I try to practice compassion and try to see the situation in a new light. I know the power of forgiveness–which, trust me, is hard work!
But often I just end up spinning in my own thoughts. You know, hamster-in-mind syndrome.
An urgent situation
On the eve of my mother’s memorial service, old fault lines in family relationships surfaced. I felt pierced and offended.
I pulled out everything I knew might help:
- Have compassion for myself.
- Have compassion for the other person.
- Breathe, in a deep, relaxing way.
- Listen to my body, and notice where the hurt lives.
- Vent constructively to a safe friend.
- Dance my heart out at a Zumba class.
All of this helped, a little. Still, as we approached the hour of Mom’s memorial, I knew I had to do something different. So, in the nick of time, I tried these words, directing them strongly at my brain:
Just stop it.
“I know you have a lot of good ideas, and insights. I know you are struggling between compassion and judgment, and I’m sure you want to forgive yourself and the other person. However, we are out of time and you need to stop thinking about this–effective IMMEDIATELY. You’re on a track going nowhere. And you’re the only one who can stop it.
Delete file NOW.
Fortunately, I was taking a walk with my compassionate husband. I greatly recommend walking or moving when you use this technique. Walking or exercising naturally help soften the grip of your thoughts, plus they can give you a time frame for action. I told myself:
“At the end of this walk, I want things to be different.”
Normally, I don’t believe in will-power, or mind over matter, but the stakes were really high,
Adding a prayer
I also used prayer. I don’t know what your relationship with prayer is, but sometimes I need help dealing with stuff that seems beyond my control, where the only thing I can really change is me.
Finding my prayer brings me to humility, where I don’t have to be the strongest person on the block, or even capable of changing myself. Prayer brings me back into myself.
Without going religious on you, I’m all for praying to whatever gives you strength, as long as prayer reminds you of the good person you really are, and does not judge or do harm to others. Really, why not?
The good news is that those three words WORKED.
My mind calmed down, I went into the memorial, and then, as I heard healing words spoken about my mother, something deeper in me shifted and I knew that the change I had wanted had stuck.
We can’t control others. We can work on ourselves. Make your mind your friend.
The applications for these words are many. You can use them to give instruction to your inner critic. Or, when doubt really builds up. Or, when your mind is in a tizz after listening to yet another terrible spate of news. Action in the future may be needed. But first, keep your mind from spinning.
For those of us who are strong thinkers, sometimes we just need to stop the action. I don’t have to always figure out the situation, rationalize or work with it.
I just need to pull the plug and reboot my brain.
Speak these three words to yourself in a pinch. Use them like a life preserver, with compassion and necessary severity, even as you find your own way of forgiving and letting go.
Just stop it.