Mindfulness: Holding Opposite Desires without Creating Anxiety

We spend much of our day creating anxiety by wanting two opposite desires that seem incompatible. When this happens we judge ourselves and elicit guilt over at least one of the opposing desires. Tension is created by having opposite desires as we try to work out a way to have both. Consider the examples below:

I want a clean house, but I want to be outside instead of doing housework.
I’ll have fun meeting my friends for an evening out, but I just want to put on my pajamas and watch TV.
I want to travel, but I want to stay home snuggling my pets.

Anxiety is produced by our own judgment of our thoughts:

If I don’t clean, people will think I’m lazy.
If I don’t go out, my friends will think I’m boring.
If I leave my animals to go on vacation, I’m an irresponsible pet owner.

Tension is produced because you’re searching for a compromise or solution:

Maybe I could hire someone to clean my house.
Maybe I could have an evening “in” with my friends.
Maybe I could travel with my pets.

Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment without judgment. Through meditation exercises, you can learn to accept your thoughts without becoming critical of yourself for having the thought. With the practice of mindfulness you can acknowledge your thoughts without trying to answer them, you are not trying to solve a problem, and you are simply experiencing a thought.

With an ongoing practice of mindfulness, you will begin to let your thoughts flow in and out of you throughout your day without allowing them to induce anxiety or tension. In this manner you will be able to hold two opposing desires, acknowledging the presence of each. But that’s it, you simply acknowledge and move on, mindfulness is not about trying to find a solution. You are not meditating in the hopes that a third idea, better than the other two will emerge.

The practice of mindfulness can make you more attentive to the world around you, which can reduce the tension you feel when you find yourself in situations like the examples given above. Many of us spend our days multi-tasking and thinking about other things even when we’re in the middle of a face-to-face conversation. Consider how you might feel differently by staying present.

I drift into a cozy nap with the sounds of a purring cat on my lap and the soft drip of the kitchen faucet hitting the dishes in the sink.
I listen to every word of my friend’s trip to Italy while we eat cinnamon buns, the warm taste of cinnamon is becoming infused with her smile as she tells me about her holiday.
The crunch of autumn leaves under my slippers is delightful as I carry the recycling to the curb.

Mindfulness is an awareness of all that is going on around you and even inside you at any given moment. A focus on the present moment contributes to our overall well-being and allows us to live a happy and positive life.

Sending you lots of love and encouragement to stay present.

~Heidi

Other LWO anxiety article:3 Unconventional Strategies for Coping with Anxiety

You may also enjoy other mindfulness articles on my personal website: Heidi Dellaire Blog

or specific blog posts The Purpose of Being Mindful and Mindfulness and Your Relationship

© Love Wide Open

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