Have you ever heard the Buddhist parable of the second arrow? We refer to it a lot in our house. The lesson is: If you’re hit by an arrow (or something bad happens), don’t multiply the pain with negative rumination and blame (and hit yourself with a second arrow).
My Second Arrows Have Themes
This past year has seen a sharp increase in the number of first arrows for those of us who keep an eye on national U.S. politics.
As first arrows hit, I found myself secretly stockpiling second arrows. If something bothered me, but I couldn’t quite name it, I started poking myself with these arrows, aloud or internally.
(whispering) “I don’t agree with this UX concept but I can’t put my finger on why. It smacks of something crucial and intuitive, something men have been suppressing in women for a long, long time.”
This absurdly misplaced second arrow behavior got to the point where, if I was tired or emotional, you could rest assured the word “patriarchy” would appear like clockwork.
What the Arrows Teach
Our tendency is to get lost in a cycle of reactivity. — Tara Brach
I don’t want to be in a groundhog day loop, so I use my second arrow awareness to teach me to avoid it. The first arrow already hurts when it hits. Adding more headaches, stomachaches, and neck pain into the mix isn’t helping anyone.
My goal is to accept the first arrow, avoid the second, and to take action to help others (a selfish act, causing helping others helps me) as I can.
3 Questions to Help You Find Your Secret Second Arrow Stock
- Do you find yourself repeating similar global complaints when you get frustrated?
- Have you been told by others that you “always” talk about certain topics that seem to haunt you?
- Do you ever feel like Bill Murray and Saint Sebastian at the same time?