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Selfless Service Work Mornings Changed My Life (Really!)

05 Mar 2019 1:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Dana Mooney Shares Learnings about Dirty Dishes, Other Nasty Chores

In my 10-year relationship with my dear husband, I’ve spent maybe nine and a half years of it battling about the dishes. Having higher standards for tidiness, I would find myself time and again resentfully washing dishes, repeating phrases to myself like:

  • “How many times to I have to ask him to do this one thing?
  • “Does he even listen or care when I ask for help?” 
  • “I’m not his mother!” 
As you can imagine, this negativity and resentment perfumed our other interactions, and dishes became this symbol in our marriage of my not feeling seen, heard, or responded to, left to take care of things myself. In short, I was feeling neglected and taken advantage of.  But prior to Selfless Service, I couldn’t see that, at least not so clearly. All I saw was pain and frustration, well practiced over almost a decade. He acted out his role and I acted out mine, both to our detriment.

When I started coming to Selfless Service work mornings, I learned to watch my automatic reactions to cleaning and began to transform them. I brought awareness to my practiced negativity and was able to be with the work I was choosing to do. Noticing that I was choosing to do it for the benefit of my community, and was not being forced, I was able to generalize those patterns to my work at home:

  • I’m choosing to clean these dishes to care for my family because I love them.
  • I’m very skilled and efficient at this task, and I’m glad to use my skill to help out.
  • I can clean these dishes mindfully, and practice finding joy and peace in this ordinary task.
  • Dishes aren’t inherently stressful. The stressful part was the story I told about it.

I practiced in this way for several months at home, and it changed my life drastically:

  • I stopped carrying anger and resentment about cleaning dishes, or doing any other chore for that matter. 
  • Cleaning times were now an opportunity to cultivate peace and joy in myself to ripple out to my family.
  • I saw the positive effects that having a clean home had on the well-being of the people in my house, and I want my family to be well. I now clean happily so they can be well.
  • I was able to ask for help around the house without projecting anger and shame about tasks not completed, which made my requests much more palatable. It turns out that it’s far easier for my husband to want to help out when there’s not an underlying message of, “You’re not a good partner,” or “You don’t care about me,” or “You’re acting like a child.”

I have deep gratitude for the opportunity to continue practicing at Selfless Service work mornings to reinforce these patterns and would recommend it to anyone. These mornings do not feel like a morning of chores. They feel like joyful mornings with community, caring for the Center and each other, and learning about ourselves through practicing mindfully.

Dana is a member of the FCM Tampa Sangha.

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