In my first post, I started with a story and it inspired a photo. On the same day I published my first post, I went to play in my parents’ garden and saw this gigantic spider. I ran quickly inside, not because I was scared, but to grab my smart phone and my new gadget: a macro lens you just pop on the phone’s camera. I ran back outside and managed to snap this picture of the lady.
As the camera lens focused on the creature, my mind focused on fears. I had to hold the camera quite close to the spider. It was a big juicy one and I was scared it would get annoyed at me, jump on the camera, run up my arm, and eat my face. Seriously. Some fears just seem natural. This photo inspired me to talk about fears and how to deal with (some of) them.
I started this blog because I became unemployed and needed to occupy my time and mind. An opportunity recently opened up and I’m at the negotiation phase of the hiring process. The ball is in my future boss’ camp and she’s taking longer than I would like to reply (notice how I could have said that she’s taking her sweet time but didn’t). Due to the inherent tension of the situation, ensues an endless stream of negative thoughts: “she won’t call back, you’re not worth it, she’s out to get you, don’t look needy or pushy, yadi yadi yada…”.
These thoughts have brewed in the back of my mind for a week now. I’ve tried to ignore them, as best as I could. At times, especially, around bedtime, these thoughts just take over and then I feel silly for feeling the way I feel. Oh boy…
These thoughts and feelings resurface (they “bombard my mind” would be a more fitting account of the phenomenon), insisting to be acknowledged. Now because I’m a mindful rookie (I practice meditation almost every day for 15 minutes and I’m reading about it here and there), I became pretty good at identifying my thoughts and my feelings and sometimes I’m even able to really accept them as they are. But it’s what to do next that bothered me in this present situation.
These recurrent thoughts and feelings are the miners’ canary, a signal that the situation is not in line with my values. In my novice endeavors, I’ve stumbled upon Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It is very akin to mindfulness practice and it teaches to act on your values, not on your thoughts and feelings. Now because I like structure and organization, here is how I dealt with this particular concern.
Keeping in mind my situation, I read through a list of words that embody values and I tick-marked the ones that resonated best with my values in this particular situation. Words like “clarity”, “honesty”, “openness”, and “simplicity” popped out from the list and these words guided my action. I emailed my future boss, asking simply if she had the time to think about our meeting. That’s it. No fuss. Just that. I pressed “send” and felt satisfied right away (even though, as I’m writing these words, she still hasn’t replied).
I recognize that in this particular example, the problem is far from dramatic. But there will come a time when things get much more confusing (actually such a time has come already, many times). I hope that practicing mindful decision-making with minor issues will make the more challenging times ahead a bit more painless. There are no guarantee that my decision to email my future boss was the best decision. But this exercise allowed me to take actions based on my values and not my fears. And that is pretty satisfying.