I have a cart full of groceries, and I’m ready to checkout. There are two lanes to choose from. One seems like it will be faster than the other, and I’m in a bit of a hurry to get to a previously scheduled, somewhat important meeting. I choose what appears to be the faster lane. Only to quickly realize that I made the wrong choice. But it’s too late to switch because the other lane now has more customers in line.
Ever have that experience?
Our first thoughts might be something along the lines of Why does this happen to me? or Why can’t they add more baggers to help? or What is taking so long for this person to pay?
Very frustrating, right?
But here’s the irony of the situation – our frustration has nothing to do with what is happening.
I love how Eckhart Tolle puts it: Ninety-five percent of our unhappiness is not due to what we consider to be bad situations but rather is caused by our mental commentary about those circumstances. What’s going on in the checkout lines is totally neutral – neither good nor bad. It just “is”. But our mental commentary about it is what causes all the pain. Why is this happening? I’m going to be late for my meeting? Why don’t they open up another lane? And our ego is off to the races.
This quote from A Course in Miracles explains why we persist in choosing to be seemingly unfairly treated: “The ego’s need for grievances is necessary to maintain the world you see.” Holding on to grievances perpetuates the ego. That’s why we keep “attracting” such experiences – because we cling to the ego.
When we shift our awareness to the mental commentary about each situation (which is a synonym for the ego), we can impartially observe it and then gently set it aside. The experience is far better.