Are You Engaged in a Losing Battle?

tug_of_war_1I have been on a mission lately to become more mindful and aware of the stories my mind tells me, and how it affects me in my daily life. A lot of it has to do with the urges and desires I have, mostly for food, and to figure out how I can do a better job of controlling them. We all have these kinds of urges and desires, it might be for sweets and treats, shopping, making more money, being more successful, etc.
I realize I am just scratching the surface of getting better at controlling my urges and desires, but it’s something I am aware of and want to improve on. I will probably never be free from them, and they may always have some kind of hold on me. But if I can get a little better at recognizing them and not letting them completely run the show, I will be better off.
Last week I talked about a break through moment I had about letting go and not being tortured by a buffet under my nose at an event I attended. Please read about that HERE.
That experience got me thinking about this concept of letting go and taking away the power from our urges and desires. I would like to explore that a little more.
I was comparing this internal battle of our urges versus (for lack of a better term) our willpower to a tug of war. On one end of the rope you have the urge and desire, let’s say a piece of chocolate cake, and on the other side you have willpower, or your true intention. I’m sure you can all relate to that battle.
“Just one bite of that delicious chocolate cake”.
“No, I don’t want any cake”.
“Come on it looks so good, what’s the harm in one bite”.
“I said no, I am not eating cake tonight”.
And on and on and on this battle goes. No matter what, one side wins. You either eat the cake or you don’t. But in the end either way you are the one that loses. You had to fight and claw against that urge for however long, and you either cave in, or you don’t. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.
What if there was a better way. What if you didn’t have to fight that fight at all. Wouldn’t that be better?
My thought is instead of engaging in that tug of war, that back and forth exhausting struggle, where one side or the other ends up with their face in the sand. What if you just dropped the rope, and watched from the sidelines. Watched as that urge just falls right down. You remove the resistance from one side, the other side has nothing to pull against. Technically they would “win”, but I think we all know who the real winner is.
Sounds like a great theory, looks good on paper, but how does it translate into the real world? Well that part I am still working on. I still need to put this into practice, to test it out. My thought is if we can get outside of our head for a moment and watch this battle unfold, perhaps then we can have the presence of mind to allow ourselves to drop our end of the rope. How can you do that?
I think the simplest and most effective way is to pause and take a few breaths. Just pause and breathe. Don’t rush into it one way or other. Just be the conscious observer. Watch the thinking. See who is running the show. Is it you, or your urges and desires?
That’s what mindfulness is all about. Creating a gap between the thought and the action. Slowing down enough to assess the situation. So often we are just rushing around from thing to thing to thing. We get so focused on doing, that we lose sight of what the real objective is.
I am certainly an amateur at all this consciousness and mindfulness practicing. I am no expert by any stretch. If you want to check out an expert I would recommend Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, and also either Rediscovering Life or Awareness by Anthony De Mello.
Notice in the above paragraph I said mindfulness practice. That is exactly what it is, practice. Something you have to work at all the time. You will get better at it, but for me anyways progress is proving very difficult. I think it’s worth the struggle though. Most things worthwhile in life are hard.
What do you think about this, think letting go of the rope is a viable option? Can you do it?