Cooking is not my greatest strength. I try hard and I mean well but often it doesn’t go to plan. One day, I decided to surprise my family by cooking a delicious chocolate dessert. The recipe looked straightforward but reassuringly impressive. I set to work and I was full of the joy that my future glory was going to bring.
Finally the moment of truth came
We sat down and I eagerly awaited the moment we would all tuck in. I was covered in flour with globs of uncooked mixture spattered down my front and the kitchen was similarly battle scarred. This was it. And it looked glorious! The beginning of a new start in my cooking journey. I’d learnt so much over the years and this was the culmination of my increased confidence and experience.
Except it wasn’t the triumph I was hoping for!
You probably guessed it went wrong didn’t you? Two things went wrong: the cream I used turned out to be sour and I got the measurement of the salt wrong. So instead of a delicately sweet and nuanced flavour masterpiece, it was a bitter and rancid mess. I was gutted. Disproportionately so, despite the reassurances (and laughter!) of my family. But it was because I had felt like I’d overcome the previous challenges I’d always had and put in so much loving care that the failure felt even worse.
The start of this year has felt like this for me
The weight of last year was hanging heavily in me as the clock shifted to midnight on December 31st but I made a conscious effort to shift my thinking. Drawing on all my experiences, I was all set to create something different this year. More energy into nourishing myself and finding joy. More appreciation for life after slowly re-emerging from our virus-induced hibernation.
And then lockdown number 3 hit
The equivalent of that first bitter mouthful of my failed dessert. Often it’s not our challenging reality that’s our problem, it’s the mismatch with our dreams and imaginings. The lockdown felt like having the rug pulled out from underneath us again. Did you feel it too? One thing I do know is that you can’t rationalise your way out of feeling the grief and disappointment that a crushed dream creates. As much as we might try to tell ourselves that it’s not so bad, the sour taste remains.
So how can we recover and thrive in the face of disappointment and challenges?
The altered start to this year is obviously a lot more tricky to get over than my wounded baking pride! But there are still some ways I've found that help me, no matter what the situation. There’s three steps in particular that really help: Step 1: Acknowledge it First of all, it doesn’t matter how much anyone tells you that it will be alright. (It also doesn’t matter how much you tell yourself that fact). It’s so vital that you allow yourself to acknowledge and recognise how you feel. That doesn’t mean you’re dwelling on the negative or failing to look on the bright side. If we don't do that, it would be like me forcing myself to eat every last mouthful of my disgusting dessert because I refused to admit it hadn’t gone to plan. I need to fully recognise my situation before I can do anything else. Step 2: Accept It This one can be a hard one. I know I definitely found this hard with the announcements. I wanted it to be different and I was angry and upset. But acceptance can be misunderstood. It's not a passive lying down and giving up nor is it an angry lashing out at the circumstances, The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle describes it instead as coming into inner alignment with the the "is-ness" of the situation - understanding "This is how it is". He uses the analogy of being stuck in the mud. We can have a tendency to either get really angry and struggle and fight; causing us to get more stuck in the mud, or we lie back and give in and say to ourselves "why does this always happen to me?". We have another choice. We can simply be stuck in the mud. Noticing that reality and allowing the right action to arise from there. The energy of action from that place of acceptance is very different. Step 3: Take the "Right action" It's only when we can accept the "is-ness" of the situation that we can create space for the action we need. Maybe that looks like finding ways to look after ourselves by making time to rest, to be in nature, to meditate, to speak to friends. Or perhaps it means making a plan for how to be really effective with our time. It involves a shift in our perspective so we can observe how our mind gets in the way. So instead of being lost in the thoughts and judgements of the position we find ourselves in, we can find our flow again. This is the gift that a meditation practice gives you. It allows you to make friends with the present moment, no matter what it contains.
How to build those Ninja Mind Skills
I call the ability to manage the conditions inside of yourself 'Ninja Mind Skills'. It's not a one size fits all or static process. Rather it's a way to adapt and be flexible within your own mind, with a big dose of kindness for yourself along the way. You can learn to experience things differently so you can trust yourself more and feel less stressed by the realities of our modern world that never stops. If you'd like to build some Ninja Mind Skills, my new 21 Day Ninja Mind Skills Programme is a great first step or refresher. It's been designed so that you can access the full digital programme anytime and you'll also get live support with daily meditations and weekly Q & A calls. It's available at a steal of a price right now as I want to help as many people as I can to get through these times. You can find out more here.
"We can do hard things"
In the words of Glennon Doyle, "We can do hard things", especially when we support each other. Best wishes to you and your loved ones.
Laura @ Be. x
"Don't look for yourself in your mind. You are not there" - Eckhart Tolle