Some Irish proverbs are close to the bone, many take no shit at all – Is leithide an bualtach satail ann -Trampling on dung only spreads it more is a brutal reminder that some actions we undertake can do more harm than good.
Sure, ‘shit happens’, that’s just life but this is one of those cautionary proverbs that reminds us that there is a wrong way to deal with the shit, however it happened. Trampling on it is not the way to go. That may be trampling in rage, which is a waste of energy and no one comes out of that smelling of roses or it may be the staying in it too long. We can all step in something from time to time but most will wipe their feet and move on. Some can’t but linger. Some can’t but go back for a closer look.
This is part of the problem with depression and worry, our programmed negative bias is in constant play and we may be prone to not just feel the shit more when it occurs but actually want to delve into it, perhaps a away to figure out or analyse it but often just because we are familiar with it. We feel we are on home turf; we don’t even notice our toes are in the manure.
The problem is the second we don’t wipe our feet and move on, we are already beginning to trample, we are overly investing in our ongoing pain, and it has just become easier to go forensic on the dung hill than go smell the roses a few steps away. And yes there are people whom seem to outright wallow in their misery, it kind of justifies how bad they feel, but imagine putting all that energy into something joyous.
Ok the trampling – the rage or the rumination, is a learned behaviour, it can be put to one side. You don’t have to get over invested in every next hurt, you don’t have to stay spreading it more.
Exercise. Stepping out of rumination
Repetitive thinking about the past is known as ‘rumination’. Replaying the trauma and tragedies of the past is clinging on to the pain. In fact, it’s not only reliving it, it is denying a future life or a real engagement with your present self. Wrongs may have been done, but they don’t need to be experienced again and again. They don’t have to be trampled in, wallowed in, obsessed over.
Rumination is self-harm. Rumination is the post traumatic wound that can’t heal because it is never allowed to scab over. Yes the past may leave a scar but better that than a festering wound. The scar is reminder of recovery. The picked scab or the open wound is just an ongoing dilemma. Enough dilemmas. The past is not the present. You don’t have to keep it in the present, you don’t have to spread it into your every moment. step off. Step out of it.
Ok, we may still need to work out some issue or work on some problems but we don’t need to always go there. We can be elsewhere. Whenever I am feeling the lure of negative reflection I step into the now – I use a mindful tool to get grounded, to come alive to the wonderful possibilities of life. It is not just that I swap into positive thinking, I jump into positive living. That might be a meditation where I actively opt to radiate joy or reenergise my spiritual/resilient self, that may be cooking a meal, listening to music, going for a bike ride. It is a doing, a be-ing, an engagement with the reality of now. The past is the past, the present is the present. What ever happened in the past is past. What happens in the now, I have control over that.
So today and this week take action. Take control. Mindfully be in the present. Pick a joy and make that joy the moment you experience. Take similar actions anytime you need to break the cycles of rumination, worry and repetitive thinking.