Let’s not beat around the bush. Life can certainly be a doozy to handle sometimes. It can be as cold as ice and hard as nails. So we “think” anyway. Here are some phrases we might say when the going gets tough:
“I’m a failure.”
“What did I do to deserve this?”
Sometimes when the going gets tough, we also play the blame game. I vividly remember a poster that hung right above my 4th grade teacher’s desk. They were the words of Peppermint Patty from the Peanuts gang and read, “If at first you don’t succeed, it’s someone else’s fault.” I wasn’t sure what that meant back then, but I certainly do now.
We tend to blame our friends, family or those closest to us like our spouses and partners. Sometimes we even blame God. Very rarely do we take responsibility for the problems we encounter in our lives.
I’ve come to know after my forty years around the sun, that what we think of as problems aren’t really problems, but challenges. The problem is in our thinking. It’s our thinking which is linked to our emotions that make life’s challenges ten times worse then they truly are. I get on Facebook every morning and right away I can tell when people have made a challenge in their life into a problem because of the way they think. We’ve all done it. I still do it.
I came across a story not very long ago that talked about what ducks do when they get into an altercation with each other. They aggressively go at it, snapping at each other’s necks, but after the squabble, they will flap their wings a few times and move on. There is no story telling and holding on to the problem. They let it go.
What do most of us do when we get into an altercation? We tend to be aggressive both physically and verbally, but after it’s done, we will go on and on about it to our friends and family and in our own minds to the point it pretty much ruins the entire day or the week for that matter. I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too.
Some of us find pleasure in playing the villain role and some of us find pleasure in playing the victim role. Dysfunctional, yes, but yet we still like it; other wise why would we continue to add fuel to the fire? I’ll tell you now, it’s because the ego needs to be fed. Hmmm, sounds like another topic for another time.
So, what can we do to minimize the perceived suffering in our lives?
One word—awareness. I don’t always beat my emotions to the punch but when I do, it’s because I’ve become aware of the thoughts I am thinking and how they are connected to my emotions. I remind myself that the situation is always neutral. It just is, right? Instead of making up stories about it, or adding more fuel to the fire, what if we tried to stick to the facts?
The phrases I mentioned in the opening paragraph limit us from taking action. They hold us back from rising up to the challenges that come our way, which in turn limits our growth as human beings. When we stick to the facts we become empowered to make positive change. We accept quicker and in turn, act quicker.
I know, I know, we are human and this is not an easy thing to do. Why? Well, I have 40 plus years of conditioned responses imbedded in me. How old are you? Get my drift? Be easy on yourself.
I think Eckhart Tolle said it best when he said, “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” BE THE OBSERVER!
This takes practice like anything else we want to get better at doing. I’m game. How about you? Stick to the facts!