It can be confusing to hear me say ‘do nothing’, or that ‘there is nothing to do’ with regard to many of the things we consider problems in our lives. When problems show up as things that need fixing, doing nothing can feel ineffective at best; like resignation or powerlessness at worst.
When I talk about dismissing a painful thought or dismissing an urge to do something you don’t want to do, sometimes people hear that as ignoring a thought or ignoring an urge. The way I use those words, dismissing and ignoring are actually opposites.
The difference is rooted in what you believe about people and problems.
If you believe that the fundamental nature of all humans is clarity and wellness, and that nature never changes but gets temporarily covered with whatever happens to be on our minds in any given moment, most problems (by definition) are thought-created. Our thinking creates our experience and so our thinking creates most of our problems.
If a problem is created by thought and thought is always changing, at some point your mind will change and your problem will change along with it.
This is also true when it looks like the problem is that there is something wrong with you. Because your nature is wellness and clarity, your depressed, anxious, stuck, or otherwise unhappy state is created by temporary thought. Your state will change when your thinking shifts.
When you believe that your unchangeable nature is well-being and health, and you’ve seen that your state of mind changes on its own, ‘do nothing’ begins to make much more sense.
What is there to fix when you are well underneath a passing cloud of thought? When thought clouds pass on their own, what could your role in their passing possibly be?
It’s never that you can’t or shouldn’t do anything. If something occurs to you to do to help yourself, by all means do it. That inclination is your wisdom speaking to you. Please, do follow your own inner inclinations.
It’s just that there is nothing you have to do. You have no job and you have no responsibility here. Your innate health is covered. Do what you’re inclined to do, but there is nothing you must do.
Of course, most people don’t view people and problems this way. When you believe that you are capable of being lost or damaged, or that all problems need physical world solutions, ‘doing nothing’ looks like neglect or laziness.
But rest assured, you are a part of nature and nature has a self-correcting mechanism built in. Nature has a bent toward thriving, and so you do too.
So when I suggest you dismiss your urge to beat yourself or someone else up, or you dismiss your urge to quiet your mind with a box of donuts or a bottle of wine, or you dismiss your urge to run away from your marriage, job, or responsibilities…
I’m certainly not saying to ignore those things. Dismissing them is to see that they are thought created and that as your mind self-corrects, those things will naturally look different.
Ignoring is to truly believe something needs attention and fail to give it attention.
Dismissing is to see the truth that we come equipped with a self-correcting mechanism and not everything needs a human fix.
Ignoring uses effort and energy. Dismissing is effortless. It frees you up and takes the job of managing your experience off your plate.
The more you consider that perhaps you actually are well and healthy underneath the surface chaos, the more natural and obvious doing nothing will be.