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Let Go of the Mouse – How to Handle Negative Self-Chatter

A few years ago, I had a friend who complained to me for a week straight about a mouse that he could not catch in his kitchen. Every night, he would set out a mousetrap in a new location, hoping that would finally do the trick. To his surprise, every morning the trap would again be unhinged with the cheese gone. He would then proceed to call or text me, enraged that his new spot didn’t work (I think it was more about the mouse outsmarting a grown man.) Not only could he not catch the mouse; the clever little guy was still getting the cheese! This turned into a game, and everyday I would get an angry text that went something like “THAT MOUSE IS STILL ALIVE AND THE CHEESE IS GONE WTF.” Finally, I had had enough of hearing about this dumb mouse that I said “Scott, let go of the mouse.”
What Scott didn’t realize is the mouse played much more of a role in his life than he thought. It wasn’t just a pesky rodent outsmarting him in his kitchen. It represented so much more than he recognized at the time. We all spend so much time trying to dictate and control everything in our lives, and when it doesn’t work out we are left feeling vulnerable, insufficient and beaten down. We put bait in our traps, and when we get “fooled” is when our faith gets tested. Everyday, this happens to each of us in one form or another.
To me, the mouse represented the negative self-chatter that sometimes enters our minds. This negative self-chatter is like thousands of little creatures that snake their ways into our brains: the fear-based thoughts that arise, the self-defeating stories that we tell ourselves and attach to. When we search for something new – a job, place to live, a significant other – and it doesn’t work out, we feel like Scott did in his kitchen staring at an empty mousetrap with no cheese. Yet it’s how we work through these moments that reveal our true character. It’s not about what happens to you, but rather how you choose to handle it.

It’s not about what happens to you, but rather how you choose to handle it.

If we attach ourselves to these mice/self-limiting thoughts, they will drive us crazy – just like the mouse did with Scott. It is everyday situations like these that prove we can learn from everything around us. We are put in all types of situations to grow, learn, and become more self-aware, from how we react to rush hour traffic, to how we handle a cheese-stealing mouse in the kitchen. We have to train our minds to catch these mice before they become negative, habitual patterns in our brains. Training our thought process to simply let the mice pass right on by – to let go of the mouse. To me, that is the real practice of yoga: not letting our thoughts, fears, or occasional bumps in the road get the best of us.

So the next time you catch yourself thinking something negative, give it a new shape. Think of that thought as a mouse that you need to get out of your mind – and not obsess over. Don’t attach any emotion to these mice/thoughts; rather, observe them, and watch them quietly leave your mind. Patanjali calls the chatter in our heads “vritti,” meaning whirlwind. Not identifying with the whirlwind of stories that we tell ourselves is the true test; and way easier said than done.
Scott needed to catch that mouse. What originally began as a pest turned into something so much more. He needed to prove something to himself and when he kept failing, he would get angrier and angrier. Does this sound familiar at all in your own life? What traps are you setting everyday in hoping that someone takes a bite? Would it just be easier to let go of the mouse?
Let go of the mouse, and make way for silence, peace, and a deeper relationship with yourself and your yoga practice.

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Jessie Wren

An Arizona native, Jesse finds peace within her yoga practice, and spreads light through her yoga teaching and writing. She loves connecting with herself and others through meditation, asana, and a healthy lifestyle. You can find Jesse traveling the world, writing about inspiration, and taste-testing every sushi restaurant ever.

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