Today I received a mildly bitchy email from someone I deal with professionally, but have never met face to face. After reading the email, the first emotion that surged through my body was self righteousness “How dare this jerk take this tone with me”! My second thought was that if said jerk wanted to play the mean game, I would go all in. In my head I crafted my bitchy (and witty) reply, and imagined all of the consequences that could arise and how I would deal with them.
And that my dear, is my problem; I am willing to ruminate about almost everything. I am a pro at over-analyzing situations (both past and present), jumping to conclusions, trying to anticipate the future, and generally being a pain in the ass.
The thing is, all this rumination has never really helped me. I am wrong more often than I am right when I jump to conclusions, and even when I am right, it is usually not worth the emotional and mental energy that I spent cycling through the same thoughts over and over again.
So I am making a commitment to stop obsessing about the past and the future, and just try to be present right now.
That is where The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle comes in. Tolle talks about how destructive rumination can be, and how to silence the soundtrack of worries, doubts, and judgements in your head. This is kind of a new age spirituality book, but please don’t let that deter you from giving it a shot, what he says is really helpful.
I bought the audio book and I love it, but the PDF is available for free download as well. After listening to the book last week, I started taking a few minutes several times a day to just focus on the present moment, and being honest with myself about when I was over analyzing something (or being a pain in the ass).
So, back to this bitchy email. After taking a few seconds to come back to reality (also known as the Now), I realized that this one insignificant email was close to derailing my entire day. Getting into a digital slap fight was not going to make this person any nicer or more considerate, but it would make me angry and tense, and the negative energy would probably stay with me for days. So I sent a quick reply, no witty retorts, or bitchy undertones, and then I got on with the rest of my day.
And it was as simple as that. No need to analyze why this person was being rude to me. No need to run through all the possible scenarios where I might have offended this person. No long mental monologues about how I will not let someone “talk” to me in that tone of voice, and how I will show them who they are messing with. No continuation of the negativity.
And on my way home from work I stopped for a banana slurpee, and all was good with the world.