Slogan 56: Don’t Wallow

Don’t wallow is about not letting your darker feelings drag you under, especially when things don’t go your way or your meditation practice becomes more challenging. The original lojong slogan is: Don’t wallow in self-pity, which reminds you not to feel sorry for yourself, no matter what you’re going through.

If you’ve been examining and analysing your negative habits and digging up all the ways you make things worse for yourself and others, there may be times when you wish you had never started poking around in your mind trying to change things. You might even believe you were better off before you took up this meditation nonsense! Sometimes it’s just too much hard work and you wish you could give up and go back to sleep. But this slogan gives you a sharp prod and reminds you not to wallow in self pity.

When you catch yourself feeling self-pity it means your ego is trying to get you to run back inside its fort and pull up the drawbridge. But don’t give in. If you do, you’ll notice that it makes your suffering worse.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering that writing can be hard but that’s no reason to beat yourself up when you’re struggling.

This slogan reminds you that it’s natural to struggle at times, but when you focus on how hard writing is and how difficult it can be to achieve your goals, you’ll never enjoy the process of writing. If you haven’t written for a while and you spend more time beating yourself up than you spend actually writing, it may be time step back and look at what you’re doing to yourself.

If the problem stems from your feelings about yourself, then you’ll need to practice self-acceptance and tonglen until you clear the negativity enough to get your pen moving again.

If the problem stems from your feelings about the writing itself, then you’ll need to examine and analyse your work to find a solution.

If the problem stems from more abstract fears about how hard it is to write well or to sell your work, you may need to have a closer look at your expectations.

No matter the problem, don’t wallow in self pity. All it does it make you feel bad and that makes writing even harder – and it’s hard enough already.

Exercise: In your slogan journal, write about a time you struggled with self-pity and explore it in depth. How did stop yourself from wallowing? What did you learn from this experience?

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers

Next: Slogan 57 – Don’t Be Jealous