An event throws us off course. It can be something as small as a canceled appointment or something existential, for instance, a dangerous disease, job loss, or the end of our marriage. Some people's mood changes if their favorite soccer team loses or the weather is dreadful.
Most of you can relate: if something happens that's different from what we expect or wish for, we react with anger, frustration, sadness, or other painful feelings.
Why is that so? Moreover, what can we do to handle negative events constructively?
It's not serving us to create additional problems for ourselves by running around frustrated or angry, and it doesn't change whatever bugs us if we create unnecessary suffering.
It comes down to this:
If I perceive something as negative, I don't feel as good as if I consider an event to be positive.
A simple example:
For two months I am looking forward to a camping trip. However, I'm disappointed because it's raining on the day of the trip.
I have a little garden where I grow herbs. I'm happy on a rainy day because it's great for my plants.
The reality is the same in both cases: a rainy day.
How I perceive this reality decides if I am happy or disappointed.
That applies to many situations. We experience something we don't like or that even screws up our whole life; and we feel stressed, overwhelmed, and maybe even hopeless.
I run outside. I look to the clouds, clench my fists and scream off the top of my lungs: "you stupid rain, stop right now. I was looking forward to this camping trip, and you destroy everything."
You probably wouldn't do that because it's not helpful. If it helped, the number of people screaming at the clouds would be more substantial. (Well, don't mind Twitter.)
In my experience, the most constructive way to deal with the fact that something doesn't work out is to accept reality just the way it is and say something like "okay it's raining. I was looking forward to this trip, and I am disappointed. However, I cannot change reality."
As long as we resist accepting the truth, we're unable to take action and make amendments. We can't heal if we deny facts, and the negative feelings will multiply.
Now I can think about the best alternatives. I could do something else that I love. Alternatively, it could still go on the trip and hold the rain will stop. In simple situations like this, it's relatively easy to handle disappointment.
However, there are situations where this is much harder:
In these and other difficult situations, most of us are unable to say, "It is what it is. I'll accept it."
Fighting reality and denying it seems like the only option. How could you accept facts so painful it tears you apart?
I think it's understandable that we have to take a moment to process these and similar events before we can move on.
That can mean that we notice and even allow difficult feelings. It is normal to think: "Why me?" Or "I don't want that." It's also understandable that you try to fight what feels unbearable.
I can relate. It happens to me too. In moments like this, it's as if I am in a huge soap bubble full of thoughts and try to keep reality out. That doesn't make me feel any better because reality is just that-the reality.
What helps in difficult or even unsolvable situations is to remind yourself that fighting reality doesn't help you. If you then can also manage to burst the bubble, the bubble with all of these thoughts that wear you down, you will soon feel better.
Because I mentioned a deadly disease earlier on, I should add that even if you're in an unresolvable situation, finding your inner peace can help you to eliminate unnecessary suffering.
Bursting the bubble enables you to take action and focus on changing what can be changed.
I made a video for you with a few helpful thoughts. Look at it whenever you feel anger, sadness, or frustration about something you can't change take over.
It will help you to remind yourself that the bubble isn't real and that it doesn't serve you to fight reality.
Also, check out our powerful Project Inner Peace 10-week training. Changing your thougths is not an easy task and most people need support and a systematic learning approach to achieve that goal.