Bad luck - may as well have a drink
Have you ever had a bad day and said to yourself, "This is just my luck. I may as well have a drink." Or perhaps you had a fight with a spouse. Instead, you accepted the day as a loss and just grabbed a bottle of wine. Glennon Doyle was talking recently on her podcast about a Buddhist lesson of the two arrows, and this idea of self-compassion resonated with me.
The story goes like this: there are two arrows. The first arrow that hits you causes great pain and hardship. It hurts. It sucks. Then, there is a second arrow and this is caused by our own reactions to the first bit of hardship. This second arrow is our own suffering - the suffering inflicted upon yourself because of the first arrow.
The teaching is that pain & hardship is unavoidable for us all - whether we wear it publicly or privately. However, our reaction and our suffering is a choice.
Take the pandemic for example. We need to lead with compassion here. Remember that we are all not doing so well during this time, and many have lost loved ones to Covid. It has been a long two years.
Reacting with anger can only make the situation worse. Feeling personally attacked. Like the world is out to get YOU. Why does life suck so much? Walking around and feeling like the days suck so much? So we may as well drink at the end of it, because Covid sucks! That's what I did at the end of every day for the first 11 months of 2020. I said, well. Covid made me do it.
This is not a healthy reaction obviously. It is up to us to make healthier decisions and to be more mindfully aware of how we react to the day to day shit.
Let's say my husband forgot to start the dishwasher one night, which is something he always does for me in the evenings. It is an unspoken understanding between the two of us, that the dishes will be clean in the morning. I don't enjoy the task of rinsing the dishes or loading the dishwasher, and his type A personality means he enjoys loading and unloading the thing. It makes my life easier most days. Until, the one day when he forgets to put the soap in and we wake up to a dishwasher full of dirty dishes and a busy morning ahead of us. This happened recently. It started my day off on the wrong foot, and I felt as though he had done this to personally ruin my morning.
"Did you seriously forget to start the dishwasher last night? What the fuck?" I said, glaring at him at 6am over my cup of coffee. It felt like he was determined to screw things up on purpose. He turned to look at me, standing his ground. Gearing up for an argument.
"It was a mistake! I am sorry." He said, putting his hands in the air.
Quickly, I realized that my poor husband who dutifully does these households jobs without ever complaining made one tiny mistake, and instead of me being understanding, I was irritated and irrationally hostile.
I realized I had a choice. I could allow myself to be hit by the second arrow - force this argument and be pissed off by my husband's mistake. Or I could laugh it off, recognizing that he was not actually out to get me. I took a deep breathe. I closed my eyes. I relaxed my shoulders for a moment, and I opened my eyes to look at him.
"I am sorry," I said. It is hard admitting I am wrong at times, but I know that choosing to be hit by the second arrow would set me on a path of destruction for the rest of the day. Arguing with my husband over the dishes first thing in the morning would not be a good way to start my morning. It would change my mindset and would affect me physiologically for the rest of the day.
My goal is to be less reactive and observe times when I can be more mindful of when I get hit by the first arrow so I can gauge my reactions to the second arrow. Having a conscious awareness of my behavior throughout the day can make all the difference between dealing with a raging migraine and having an easy-going, joyful mindset.
Can you think of a time when you let yourself get hit hard by the second arrow? Comment below or shoot me an email :)