No matter what life sends us, we are responsible for the way we respond. In that millisecond, between the time you hear or feel something and when your brain engages, you are given a choice in how you will respond. Will you choose to be angry, or let the snide comment roll off of your back? Will you shout at someone who cuts you off on the freeway, or will you choose to show patience and tolerance? How you respond is up to you. Every time. Period.
Choosing your own reality is acknowledging that the power resides within, not without. This lesson really came home to me yesterday as I was walking the dog. Josie is an 18 month old Husky/Lab mix that we adopted from the shelter last week. She loves to run free, and when she’s on leash she has a tendency to “pull” as if she were the Lead Dog in the Iditarod.
Yesterday, on our morning walk around the lake, Josie kept pulling and tugging on her leash, urging me to walk faster and faster. The path was icy from a snowstorm the night before, and while her traction was perfect, mine was not. I was frustrated and my hips hurt from the quick tempo. Every few feet we would stop, I would ask her to sit, and tell her to slow her pace, and then we would start out again. Then another few feet down the path we would do this all over again. Over and over this happened. I was getting frustrated, she was getting frustrated. We were going nowhere fast.
As we slowly made our way around the lake, I thought a lot about choosing my own reality. I acknowledged to myself that I was frustrated, angry, and downright MAD at the dog. I knew that she wasn’t doing this “on purpose”; she was just an 18 month old puppy in need of exercise. I tried to calm my energies down. I knew that the energy I was giving off through my thoughts and emotions were just making Josie angry AT ME. After all, she could feel the frustration rolling off of me and of course she was responding to that energy. Knowing that I was the one who needed to get a grip, but couldn’t, only made matters worse. She resisted my attempts at slowing her pace by pulling harder and harder. RESISTANCE. We were both in resistance to the circumstance.
I wish I could say that I looked at this with amusement and joy at the time; a perfect opportunity to practice the art of choosing my own reality. I didn’t. I could observe myself, but I couldn’t fully extricate myself from the situation. I knew that the first step to consciously choosing my reality was to acknowledge the current state of affairs. I could do that. I definitely acknowledged my current state was my choice and not my dog’s. I thought about what I wanted to feel – peace, contentment and tranquility – and I tried to hold on to those feelings.
I succeeded in at least moving out of the internal dialogue of anger to one of amusement. I was still angry and frustrated and mad, but now I was also aware that this was my issue and I owned it. First step taken on the path to consciously creating my own reality – acknowledging what is, without judgment.
When we finally reached home, I put her in one room while I went into another where I could sit in peace and quiet and think about the situation. From this seat of quiet contemplation, I could see that while I didn’t succeed in fully changing my reality, I did make a step in the right direction by acknowledging my negative thoughts and choosing to add amusement. I stepped out of the drama and started to change my reality. I went from being angry, frustrated and mad to being amused at my anger and frustration. I released my resistance and replaced it with acceptance. That’s at least a step in the right direction. I also reminded myself that tomorrow I will do better. I didn’t judge myself harshly for this human reaction. I know that Life is a work in progress – a conscious work in progress and tomorrow I will do better.