Even though we know if we settle down, breathe and center ourselves that our outlook on life will change, we are often so ramped up that we are not able to do it. Instead we feel like we are being swept up by life or at best trying not to trip while we’re running our perceived obstacle course.
It would be so simple to stop it all by just stopping our brain from jumping around. But, somehow this simple action becomes unattainable.
As I go through my personal development I realize the three possibilities that play out: 1 – totally lost in life events and having a feeling of no control, 2 – partially lost while a nagging feeling that there is a different way to be keeps tugging at my psyche and 3 – a centered and in control experience.
I am proud to say that feeling totally lost in life events is no longer a reality for me. I now reside in the space between being partially lost and in control.
Getting to this space has taken a lot of self-growth. I have had to learn to let go of comparing my life to that of others – after all every life is unique – as well as learning about acceptance and compassion.
When we learn to exercise acceptance and compassion toward ourselves we let go of demanding and unrealistic level of perfection. We are reminded that life’s journey is about learning and attaining wisdom and there is no space for that without trials and tribulations.
Now, when we truly realize that there is no way to compare two people’s existence, as each one of us has a truly unique experience, we also drop envy and jealousy.
So armed with compassion and acceptance while rejoicing in the loss of envy and jealousy, we start to feel a sense of purpose and control over our responses to life’s events.
It is not an easy process. And it’s not a process without setbacks. But, it is a process worth under taking. Living as if we are mere leaves blowing in the wind is not the most satisfying way to walk through life.
So when life feels out of control; stop, breathe, exercise acceptance and compassion and see your outlook change.
Here’s my confession: “I have a terrible case of SHOULD syndrome”. In my mind I should be kinder, wiser, fitter, successful, happier etc. The truth is all these “shoulds” keep me from appreciating who I am and what I have accomplished in my life. It also keeps me from opening my life up to possibilities that don’t fit my particular “shoulds”.
Now, I’ve known about my self-imposed noose for a long time and have been making strides to loosen its grip.
It all started when I realized the harshest and most demanding critic I had was my own self. While others were ready to pay compliments for the person that I am, I was not. So, I started by reminding myself I should extend the forgiveness and acceptance I had for others to my own self. I followed that by realizing I always did the best I could and that is all that can be expected from any of us.
Once, I could accept the notion that I couldn’t and shouldn’t be perfect – after all none of us are – I started to relax on the shoulds.
Today, I have a better time accepting that I am as kind as I can be at this moment. That I’m as fit as I can be with the time and energy I have. That I behave in the best way I can when something comes up. If later that proves not to be the case then I simply tell myself that my behavior was the choice I could make based on how I felt and what I knew at the time that it happened.
I still have a long way to go in freeing myself from the scrutiny I put my own self under, but I’m making strides and so can you if you too are a “should” sufferer.
Below is an interesting post by Christy Matta, M.A further discussing the should issue.
Please read on.
10 Beliefs That May Be Keeping You From the Life You Want
By Christy Matta, M.A.
We’re often kept from getting what we want in life by the demands we place on ourselves more so than by the demands of others. Pressure, hassles and tension often come when what we want to do conflicts with what we tell ourselves is “right.” We see a messy house and believe we “should” clean it, or we long to pursue a career we’re passionate about but tell ourselves “I can’t do that.” Continued…
One of the most difficult things to understand is that we’re not responsible for other people’s happiness. Better yet, that we have no control over it.
The reason it is so difficult is that sometimes someone who is close to us chooses time and again to see and experience life in the darkest way possible. We try to show them there is a different way, but they are stuck in their dark perception. They are unhappy and unnecessarily so. It is frustrating and painful. But it is their choice and there is nothing we can do about it. Insisting in the same methodology of trying to show light points to our incapacity to accept our own limitation.
I’m not suggesting giving up in being present in the lives of people we love who choose to be unhappy. I’m suggesting we accept the fact that we can’t make anyone change if they don’t want to. I suggest not adding to the situation by embracing the unhappiness and frustration ourselves.
Getting to a place of acceptance can be difficult because we often think there is one more thing we can try or we think we can change others if we only apply ourselves a little more. But, the truth is we know it really isn’t up to us.
Accepting that others have the control of their experience is an indicator of our own growth. We can offer compassion and friendship, but as we are responsible for our happiness so are others for theirs.
The below post by Mark Nepo discusses three important ideas: 1 – our journey in rediscovering who we truly are, 2 – the acceptance of life as is and 3 – finding love and peace in the struggle.
Regardless of where we come from, the concept of being like everyone else and the acceptance of a formulaic idea of happiness get imbued into our psyche at a very early age. “You must be someone”, “You must have a bank account”, “You must own things” gets beat into us as the only way to live a life. No space is left for originality and individuality. And then we suffer because society’s concept of how to live a good life might be in direct opposition to our own ideas. I’m not saying having a bank account or owning things is a bad thing. Every quality for a life chosen and every path taken is right when it is in accordance with one’s being. And so recouping our own way becomes imperative to our journey.
I would like to share the article I’m posting below. It discusses how much sadness and difficulties we create for ourselves because we don’t accept things as they are.
In the article Judith describes the situation of a client of hers who struggled with an unsatisfying relationship with her sister her entire life. The client described to her trying a number of different methods and approaches in order to create some type of relationship. But all her attempts failed because while the client was interested in figuring out how to co-exist and communicate, the sister wasn’t.
As sad as this conclusion is, it is also the truth. We cannot change how others think and feel. Everyone is entitled to their point of view. Now, spending enormous amounts of time trying to change others is our waste of time.
I have great capacity for forgiveness. And so I’ve had numerous partners and friends tell me I’m wrong when I forgive. I’m told I act like that because I don’t have enough self-respect. As I result I have tried holding people accountable for what they have done and the consequences, but felt unhappy. Recently I’ve figured out why. I realized that it is okay to hold people accountable for what they do, but it is also okay to forgive. But most important; it is also okay to hold people accountable if we are coming from a place of love and not hatred.
It’s interesting how we get the true meaning of strength and self-respect mixed-up. We have bought into the folklore that if we let others “have it” then we are strong. I now believe that is a misnomer. We are strong when we don’t need to show or prove anything to anyone.
Stating how we feel from a place of love, takes a lot more courage than yelling. Stating how we feel with calmness makes us vulnerable. It makes us human. But most important if we come from love we are actually trying to be heard and to listen. And we are trying to mend not destroy. Even if people move in their own separate ways by coming from a place of calm the healing process will have room to exist and thrive.
Living in love and forgiveness is our way to happiness and contentment. There cannot be happiness where there is resentment.
We are beings of communities. We must relate. We must coexist. We must learn to forgive. In forgiveness we find our own freedom.
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is strong than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder
We often cheat ourselves of a quality of life we could all have if only we saw love for what it actually is; a state of being.
Instead we walk around shielding ourselves from any possibility of experiencing love as if sharing love with a friend or a stranger would deplete our finite love arsenal. We erroneously believe love is to be saved until we find that one person who will be the recipient of it.
Love is a quality of life. It is not a narrow emotion which comes into existence when we think we have found a partner. So we live our lives with closed hearts without truly giving or receiving.
It’s sad how we invest so much of our energies looking for love and acceptance without realizing that if we are not willing to commit to open our hearts, we will never find that which we seek.
Without wanting to be cliché, love is all around us. But to experience it we need to be present and not afraid to “expose” ourselves.
Here is a hard one to learn; we can’t change others but we can change ourselves. Why do I say it is hard? Because we are so attached to proving our truth, intent and fairness are right that we keep coming up with new ways to express them. And every attempt only brings us frustration and disappointments.
There is nothing wrong with trying to communicate our thoughts and feelings but what becomes a waste is when it is obvious that the recipient is not ready or doesn’t want to see things in a different way. No matter how many alternatives you present for a different type of interpretation or relationship, you are not heard. The other is stuck in their position and methodology and is not going to change no matter what we do.
A couple of days ago, I had lunch with a woman who had been my late husband’s friend. I had seen her once before since his passing two and a half years ago.
The friend wanted to check in with me and again offer her support. We talked for a while and then the conversation shifted to her brother. She said we both had a lot in common; he’s a Buddhist – she said. Even though I don’t know her brother, I intuitively knew what she was trying to say. She was referring to the quality of acceptance.
Last night I went with a friend to see LA’s last performance of Next to Normal, winner of 3 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. The musical is about mental illness. A subject one wouldn’t usually associate with singing – there is no dancing in this musical.
My friend, who is also a therapist and I really enjoyed the musical. As I was driving home we talked about mental illness and finding acceptance and peace in our own lives.
One of the great values of films and plays is the opportunity they offer us to see situations and relationships through others points of view. They create a safe environment – because we are not personally involved – and then present us with a situation played out by the different characters.
In my life I have been close to a few people suffering from mental illness.