Growing up in the 60’s (that is the 1960’s to those of you whose generation is defined by the last letters of the alphabet), we were always told to “clean your plate.” No reason, except food shouldn’t be wasted because it would help some poor starving kid in Africa…never did understand why my overeating would benefit someone on the other side of the globe. Another mystery for the Baby Boomer generation to solve, or resolve.
Anyway, I had not thought about “clean your plate” in quite some time, until I saw the Burning Question posed by Danielle LaPorte on her website (DanielleLaPorte.com). Every week, she poses a Burning Question and asks people to thoughtfully consider it, respond and comment on either her FaceBook page, or on your own blog (c’est moi).
This week’s burning question was…”What would you be more of if you let go of the past?”
Which reminded me of the expression from my childhood… “clean your plate.” When I react poorly, without thought or regard for the hurt my words may cause, it is a signal that my plate isn’t clean. Crusty drops of resentment, painted red by the brush of jealousy or carved by frustration’s chisel, mar the beauty of my “plate.” My response is triggered by past events that continue to color the present moment, robbing it of joy and mindfulness.
So who would I be if I let go of the past and started with a clean plate (or slate)? Sometimes the layers of past hurts pile up so high that I struggle to answer such a simple question. But lately, I have found a solution that frees me from the instant judgment of my analytical mind. I find that when I can take a step back and not react immediately, my response is more genuine and sincere. I manage this feat by asking myself one simple question that clarifies and defines my response. It only has seven words, but it will change your life if you use it.
Who Am I in Relation to That?
Who am I in relation to the person who is so close to my rear bumper that we should be properly introduced? Am I the nasty, angry driver who seeks revenge, or am I the calm detached operator of a motor vehicle who sends a prayer and blessing of peace? My reaction to the tail gating is determined by my decision of Who I Am…in that moment.
When someone in my family says or does something that instantly takes me back to my childhood, do I respond the same way I always have, or do I take a deep breath and choose differently? My reaction can be the unconscious, habitual response I have always given, or it can be a deliberate choice to see beyond the situation. To view the person and the circumstance in the present moment, not colored by the past.
Who Am I in Relation to That?
Simple, effective, and difficult to remember, until it isn’t. Cleaning your plate can be an arduous task or an instant transformation of perspective. The good news and the bad news… is that it is totally up to you.
Maybe cleaning your plate (and your slate) isn’t such a bad thing after all!
To learn more about this technique, as well as many others that are simple, effective and actually work, please check out my latest novel, Dance with the Divine, available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook. I will soon have it available in paperback form, for those who still like to smell the ink and feel the pages turn.