Do you know the feeling of buying something you know you actually don’t need or is not going to work for you?
I experienced this last week: with our big grocery shop on Saturday, my husband and I were offered a box of water with a lemon taste. Now we don’t drink much else than water and herbal teas and I felt it probably would not be right for us. Yet there was this little curiosity that was big enough to make me take the free water. It was still in a closed box so I was not able to read the ingredients, nor did I know if it was sweetened artificially. Yet I deep down knew it was not right for us and the chance that it would be water with real lemon juice was very small, as that just does not keep well for long!
At home my husband, also being a bit curious now, opened the box and was excited as it did not contain sugar or sugar substitutes, though it did contain an artificial lemon taste, which unfortunately did not really match natural lemon! We knew we could not drink this as we just simply did not like it.
Now we had another problem: a box with six one litre cartons of water with artificial lemon taste… standing on our bench for a day… and of course it started to annoy me. Yet I sensed more than just the annoyance of it standing on the bench – there was another level to it and that was that it was a totally self-created annoyance. I had already felt to not get the water even though it was free, but I did because I wanted to know for sure and now I had to deal with the consequences of this choice.
This made me ponder on the bigger meaning of life. How often do we create things, issues, troubles etc. in our life we know are actually not needed at all before we create them? And then find ourselves having to deal with the consequences of a choice we made against our natural feelings?
Big ones are:
- Getting angry even though we don’t want to
- Overeating when we know we feel horrible afterwards
- Buying clothes that we don’t really like or don’t feel completely comfortable in
- Extremes such as firing a bullet and creating a war.
In these instances I noticed that there is always a moment that tells you what it is going to be like when you choose the reaction, issue or complication.
When we take a moment we can observe we have chosen something that is not in line with what we feel is true and that we have actually created a problem that was not there before. By doing that we have made the space to decide what to do with it.
A couple of examples:
- Ignore the annoyance and act like it does not annoy us – to do this we have to numb and dull our senses by for instance overeating or eating the wrong foods, entertainment, gaming, being overly social and outgoing etc.
- Not accept our mistake and beat ourselves up for it – which is also a form of dulling and numbing our senses and a way to make life a huge struggle too!
- Accept we made a mistake and created something that shouldn’t have been created – taking responsibility by dealing with the problem now at hand.
In the past I would always be in option 2 before I would even be aware of it! I would react and empty the cartons for sure yet all the time feeling like I shouldn’t have taken them – without giving myself any space or understanding.
This time, because of the understanding of the situation and observing instead of reacting, I chose option 3. We emptied all the cartons and put them out with the special rubbish. Not a big deal but when I accepted my choice to not act on my feelings it was easy to see what to do next: taking responsibility and getting rid of them in a responsible way.
Even though it is a very simple situation and you might think I am complicating it, for me it brought a huge understanding to my reactions and behaviours in many moments in my life. I think the thing we like to ignore the most in life is that we are the creators of our own problems and being confronted with this fact makes the most extreme reactions come out of us if we are not aware of it happening.
The feeling of having created a problem that is not needed (and when are problems needed?) can feel very annoying and we don’t like to feel this. For instance, with the water I was really annoyed with the extra work to be done to get rid of them and the space being taken in our rubbish bin (which is not that big), but I could not go and blame the supermarket or anyone else for it – it was my own choice and that is not always nice to feel.
But I found that actually dealing with the problem from an understanding of the situation, and why I chose what I chose, brings much more lightness to my life than trying to avoid feeling the annoyance.
We can in the end only truly move on when we have dealt with and accepted our past choices.
By Lieke Campbell, 26, Student Dentistry, Belgium