Is it possible to separate our emotional reactions from the circumstances we find ourselves in? Do you worry about nearly everything? Worrying is actually good for you. You heard it here first. After all, worrying is what inspires you to set your house alarm or to build a tent at the campsite so as not to get eaten by a bear.
But what if you worry, then worry about our worrying. Now we have layers of misery like a seven-layer cake. Good grief. Speaking of cake, you are what you eat, so eat something sweet. Want to eat “healthy”? Write “healthy” on top of your cake with frosting. Sugarcoating everything is my specialty. It’s been said: “Take the pieces of your life and bake a master cake out of them.”
What if we can’t change the situation or state of affairs that gave rise to our suffering in the first place? How do we deal with the hurt and heartache? Grab another self-help book, read some more affirmations, and guess what? You will still struggle in this life.
Most of us do not want to accept that suffering is unavoidable; yet it is part of being human. We know that pain and distress oftentimes teach or even motivate us to make changes in our lives. Yet we spend inordinate amounts of time trying to avoid stress and sadness at all costs.
Do you find yourself suffering in small or large ways every day? Perhaps it’s just low-level tension from the kids or the boss, or the daily traffic jam on the way home. Is your boss just like your baby? He screams and wakes you up every half hour?
We all wish, hope, and pray that our lives will be pain-free. And when we do ache, we feel that we shouldn’t have to. And why, oh why, are we?
How about those daily doses of frustration? Sure, we’re all unhappy about the little things. Computer lagging again, cable just went down, and the oven is on the fritz. You know ancient Egyptians used to write on walls and worship cats. Apparently, that’s a practice we continue to do today – online. By the way, wasn’t the Internet created to save us all time?
And now the maraschino cherry on top: Your hubby just criticized your latest home-cooked meal. Your wife just renewed her backseat driver’s license. Sheesh. While we are so busy focusing on what’s missing, we fail to focus on what is great about our lives.
We secretly – or, in my case, not so secretly – complain. Oh, yesterday was the deadline for all complaints? Well, would you rather be around someone who is annoyingly positive and optimistic, or destructively negative and hateful?
Do you fully appreciate the very moment you are in right now? Of course not. If you’re anything like me, you are already fretting about the future. You may be preoccupied with happenings or mistakes you made in the past.
If you isolate yourself, convinced that no one has it worse than you do, please find someone to offer your tenderness and compassion to. Simply greeting someone as you walk past them on the street can soften their plight or loneliness. Remind yourself that we all share the capacity for anguish, but for comfort and joyfulness, as well.
Hard as we try, we cannot outsmart the painful parts of life. If you choose to live in denial and refuse to appear in a poor light or experience hardship, how will you ever learn from your sorrows? If you desperately try not to feel, how can you learn about yourself, your loved ones, or even the world you live in?
Never learning life lessons or the consequences of our choices may lead us to do things the same way – always getting the same result. Mistakes are meant for learning, not repeating. Sadly, we cannot simply mark our negative feelings as spam and delete them. Let’s be honest: Life would be a lot easier if we could mark some people as “spam.” Ah, the 21st century, where deleting history is more important than creating history. I know, sometimes you wish you could delete your number off other people’s phones.
Furthermore, we oftentimes learn the most from the blues and broken hearts in our lives. Our natural impulse may be to avoid those feelings at all cost. But trust me, sweet friends. There is no magic or mantra that can help us avoid the unavoidable. There’s no escaping the time and effort it takes to truly change ourselves.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Trust me: You have the inner strength to face difficult realities. No, do not try to eat the feelings away by downing all that comfort food. Some people say that they can eat anything they want, and still stay slim. I gain weight just reading the recipe. So my happy place certainly cannot be the fridge. What’s that? You don’t even wait for the Super Bowl to ingest the unhealthiest food imaginable? Uh, oh. You know you’ve eaten waaay to much junk food, when you actually start craving something healthful. Temporary pleasures may ease the pain – temporarily. So we convince ourselves that we need that crutch. You do not.
Listen: These days, pizza gets to your home before the police. I get it. Life is too short to live on celery sticks. But careful what you put into your mind and body. As they say: Put it in the waste, not on your waist. Bigger snacks, bigger slacks. Everything in moderation, my friends.
Please do not allow yourself to slide headlong into victim mode. Become aware of the meaning that you give the events in your life. Remember that you are a manifestation of something so much larger than yourself. In the immortal words of Plato: To do injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer it.