How often do we needlessly evaluate a situation as all good or all bad? How many times a day do we scrutinize and label ourself as “unhealthy” from eating one small treat, or “stupid” because we forgot something, or “lazy” because we decided to rest? Pema states that “trying to find absolute rights and wrongs is a trick we play on ourselves to feel secure and comfortable.” Most of the time, I don’t thing we even realize we are labeling.
Pema asks the question, “How do we stop struggling against ourselves?” What does it say about our mental states that so often, the only time we are calm is when we are dulling it with a glass of alcohol, a carbohydrate snack, or television at the end of the day? (I have used all of these tactics to attempt relaxation). None of these things are inherently bad. If you know me, you know that eating frozen yogurt in bed is my ultimate pleasure, but it can’t be the only time of day we feel without struggle…and it often is, particularly when we are looking at ourselves with a critical and unkind lens. The point she is hammering home…I think…is to stop trying to control our life so much, to stop trying to make it void of obstacle, to stop pretending we can make the events in our life so predictable and pain free, so without mess.
Challenge 2: Think about what you might notice about your labeling? When you try and be gentle with yourself, does this help reduce your labeling?