Living in The Present
I really enjoy reading different fables and stories from other cultures. Here is one I found that I want to share with you. The title of the story is the Poisoned Arrow and it is based on the teachings of the Buddha.
Years and years ago, there was a man walking through the woods back to his farm who was shot by a poisoned arrow. He managed to get home, and his wife wanted one of his children to go to the village to get the doctor. The village was not far, and it would not take long for the doctor to arrive. However, the man refused to let his son go to get the doctor. He told his wife that he needed to have some questions answered before his son could leave to get the doctor. His wife held him tight as he started to ask his questions.
First, he wanted to know who shot the arrow. What colors were the feathers on the arrow? What bird did the feathers come from? What did the man that shot him look like? Was the man short or tall? What he white or black? Was he married or single? Did he live with his family or alone? Did he have any sons or daughters? His wife pleaded with him to let his son go and get the doctor because he was now bleeding very heavily. The man had one more question to ask. He wanted to know if anyone knew the name of the person that shot the arrow. The answer was no. His son went to get the doctor. As the doctor was arriving, the man died. The doctor examined the poor man and told the wife that if he had been summoned when the man arrived home, he would still be alive. Asking unimportant questions caused the man to die of his wounds.
How many times have you asked questions that were unimportant? What is it like to ask questions that are not important because we are too scared or anxious or depressed to ask the questions that are important? For example, when you are in a relationship that is not going the way you want it to go, do you have a lot of questions about what your partner does or does not think about you? If you are asked to give a presentation at work about your role in the team project, what questions would you have about your ability to speak in front of others? If you are not happy with the job you have but uncertain if you will be able to find another one, what unwanted questions would you have about starting a job search?
Anxiety and depression can cause us to have a lot of intrusive thoughts about ourselves. Anxiety causes us to have thoughts about something negative that is going to happen to us in the future and depression causes us to have a lot of thoughts about something negative that happened to us in the past. We fail to understand that thoughts are just thoughts and not facts. When we have negative thoughts and negative questions about ourselves, we need to do the following:
- Say “stop”,
- Say three positive things about yourself to take your attention off the anxious or depressive thought and to put the attention on you
- Focus on what you are doing (place yourself in the here and now)
Instead of asking questions, we can give answers. We can make positive statements about ourselves. When we are wounded we can use self-care (meditation, yoga, exercise, positive affirmations, or going for a walk) to help us avoid unwanted questions and move in a forward direction.