Financial instability. Complicated health issues. Sudden unexpected loss…of a loved one…a job…a relationship. Frustration or disappointment around raising teenagers or caring for elderly parents. Actually, it is more general than that. We lose our peace when people don’t act as we wish they would and circumstances don’t unfold the way we want them to.
It is easy to be happy and at peace when we are in love, cared for, listened to. When everything is going OUR way; when we love our job, our home, our friends, and relationships. Peace and joy seem to be overflowing.
The loss of peace and joy arises when people behave in ways that are displeasing to us and life circumstances unfold in ways that are not aligned with our plans.
It is not the behaviors and circumstances that steal our peace, it is our reaction to them. Change our reactions and we hold onto our peace. Let’s think about that for a moment. What happens when things don’t go our way? We begin to ruminate about them. We feel we must understand why. Our minds’ try to ‘figure it out’ which leads to obsessive thinking.
An event that happened this morning could make some of us upset all day, maybe all week. Our upset lasts much longer than the event. Why is that?
We live in our thoughts, clinging to them long after the upsetting event has passed. We question it. We strategize around it. We resist it. We judge it. We talk about it. Then we go around again…and again…and again.
We actually stop living in the moment choosing instead to keep RE-LIVING the thing that is displeasing to us. It sounds crazy. Why do we do this?
Michael Singer, author of “The Untethered Soul”, explains that we give our mind a very simple yet impossible job. The mind’s job is to make sure that everyone likes us and acts in a way that is pleasing to us AND that all circumstances work out according to our plan. Then we will be happy! Is that reasonable? Should everyone like us? Act in a way that we believe is correct? Should all of life unfold according to OUR perfect plan?
Our unhappiness, discontent, discouragement, disappointment, frustration, anger, annoyance is rooted in something or someone following a plan that we do not approve of.
Our mind, being truly loyal, immediately goes to work. The non-stop chatter in our heads’ is our mind FIXING life whenever it does not go according to our plans. We spend hours and days ruminating about those people and things that are not following our plan, trying to understand why and figure out what to do about it.
Our Mind Is At Work…
“I can’t believe she said that.” “Why did that have to happen to me?” “I don’t know what I am going to do if that happens.” “I will be devastated if he does that.”
The amazing part is no matter how much we RESIST what is happening or how someone is acting, IT STILL IS WHAT IT IS.
IT IS NOT LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES OR OTHER PEOPLE THAT CAUSE US TO LOSE OUR PEACE, IT IS OUR RESISTANCE TO WHAT IS THAT STEALS OUR PEACE.
Imagine the next time something happens that normally frustrates or upsets us, we simply notice our mind chattering on about why and how and I can’t believe and maybe I should this or maybe I should that. We simply notice and just let all those thoughts go. We continue on experiencing the next moment and the next after that, no longer ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
We can be free: free to enjoy life, free to experience life on LIFE’S terms rather than our own limited version of what should be.
- There is traffic. I can watch my mind grumble and let it go. Living in the moment I have time to listen to my favorite music or call my sister.
- She doesn’t want to date me anymore. I watch the story my mind creates about her or my shortcoming…and I let it go. I am now free to open myself to someone that shares a mutual affection.
- My job let me go. I notice all my “I’m not good enough” or “I am the victim” thoughts come to the surface. I watch my fear of financial instability arise. I don’t judge them or myself, I let them go. I am open to living in the uncertainty and exploring new possibilities.
- My teen, sibling or ex is filled with disdain and attitude. I watch my defensiveness, judgment and anger thoughts arise and I let them go. I notice how that person is behaving and choose my response in accordance with my values.
This is not to suggest that we won’t experience upset. When something occurs, we may well experience an automatic upset. It is about NOTICING the upset and the thoughts that begin as a result of an incident AND THEN letting go.
We always have choices of how to respond and act when things don’t go our way. Imagine assessing our options, choosing the best possible one given the circumstances and then letting go.
So much energy is drained from us when we resist how life shows up. So much life is missed as we stay stuck in the very experiences that are displeasing to us. When we realize we have a choice to let go, we no longer need to be sucked into the energy of “It’s not fair, it’s not supposed to be that way…I don’t deserve this.”
When we practice noticing our thoughts and letting go, we engage in a powerful, proactive practice, leading to peace and joy.
Practice is the keyword. This is simple but not easy. It is a process. The more we pay attention to OUR thoughts instead of THEIR actions, the more adept we become at noticing and letting go…the more peace and joy we begin to experience. Ultimately, upsets are momentary and, unless the situation is grievous, can even fade away altogether. The power to live in peace and joy is ours to choose and embrace!
Another part of being stuck in our displeasure, upset, and frustration is judgment. How we measure good and bad. I will talk about this in my next post.
PLEASE post a comment whether you agree, disagree, have a story to share or a struggle that doesn’t seem to fit this concept. We would love to hear from you.
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This article originally appeared on Divorced Moms
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