I Choose… the Gap
May 8, 2016
As you know, I am all about knowing that I always get to choose what I think about things.
Last week I began a practice of creating a gap between the time I perceive something (anything) and actually having a thought about that something. For example: I’m driving on the freeway and someone cuts in front of me. Am I obligated to think something about that person? No. For a long time, my unconscious reaction would have been to think that he or she was a jerk. Over the last few years I have deliberately trained myself to tell a different story about them, a story that would give me a feeling of compassion or understanding. That always feels way better to me than being judgmental or critical, because I know that everyone has a story behind why they behave the way they do, and if I knew their story, I would have at least some understanding of their behavior. So that has worked well as a way for me to be responsible for my own inner peace.
Another example: I hear a gossipy, not-very-nice conversation between two co-workers about another co-worker. Am I obligated to think something about that? No. Whether I join in the conversation (which would be RARE), or judge them for gossiping (which is my normal not-thinking-deliberately reaction), or walk away making a deliberate choice not to judge – all of those responses come from a belief that, yes, I get to choose what I think about things. But it also comes from a belief that I’m supposed to think something about everything. (Eckhart Tolle describes this as being a slave to compulsive thinking. He also calls it an addiction.)
Last Wednesday I decided to do an experiment (thanks to a book study I’m in right now of Tolle’s “Power of Now” material). He says that the longer we wait to have a thought about something after we’ve perceived that something, the more empowered we are in our response to that something. I thought I’d check out that idea for myself.
And I have to agree with him. Not only is it empowering, it is actually freeing.
I will never forget my second “ah-ha” moment ever, which happened on September 19, 1999 and which was, “You mean I get to CHOOSE what I think about things?! You mean I get to CHOOSE what I think about THIS [abusive man that I was in relationship with, or the situation, itself]?!”
These last several days have taken that ah-ha to a new level. It has now become, “I get to choose whether or not I think ANYTHING about this. Just because I’ve observed or perceived it, does not mean that I am obligated to have any thoughts regarding it. I can let it be a non-issue.”
AND, in the gap between the perception or observation and the thought, should I choose to think anything about it, I get to choose both the content and the quality of the thought that I allow. What’s in that gap? Complete peace. Empowerment. And freedom.
I recommend this experiment. Try it for yourself and watch what happens in your life as you begin responding deliberately from the GAP, rather than reacting from your unconscious habit.
I Choose… the Gap
This week I purposely create a gap between my observations or perceptions and any thoughts I may have about those observations or perceptions. I choose to tap in to the peace that lives in that gap, and from there I decide whether or not I will even “go there.” I know that “going there” is not an obligation, it is a choice, and it is completely acceptable not to go there regarding most things.
If you would like to feel what real empowerment feels like, practice this and watch what happens both within you AND in your circumstances as you start thinking differently, which creates responses that are different, too.