“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like” ~ Lao Tzu
The one thing I believe helped me get to grips with the life lessons I talked about last week was changing my mindset; that was my starting point. As with all things, constant practice is the key. There are times I still fall, times I seem to forget these lessons, but, each time, I find the getting up again a little easier.
I realised that if I kept on doing what I was doing, acting the same-old-same-old way, I’d only ever end up with the same result. For things to start changing, I needed to introduce something different into the mix.
The thing is, most of us carry on as we’ve always done because we grow up believing that situations in our lives are beyond our control and there’s nothing we can do about them. What we don’t realise is we are the ones in control of our own thoughts and actions, nobody else. It’s up to us to consciously alter the way we think about circumstances.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” ~ Henry Ford
When things happen that cause us hurt, we believe it’s the situation that’s hurt us. But, if you think about it, the upsetting thing happens, then it passes through our lives and disappears. What causes us pain, the ongoing hurt, is our thoughts. We dwell on the situation, reliving it, getting angry or sad and upset. That is what keeps us stuck in that hurt past – our thoughts.
“I’m living with every step. I can’t live with regret. The past is the past. I’m not worried about it. I can’t change it. I can’t fix it. It is what it is. I’m just living.” ~ Ryan Sheckler
How do we change our mindset? By surrendering to what is, and accepting things as they are or as they aren’t. Don’t judge it. The situation itself is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’; it just is. What makes it ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is how we react to it.
Just to clarify – surrendering here doesn’t mean to passively give up. It means accepting things the way they are or aren’t. That’s the only way a situation can be changed – by first accepting it.
When you surrender and accept, you stop resisting the circumstances in your life, and that is when change happens. It happens because you stop ‘fighting’; you go with the flow and that moves you away from the mental chaos – the constant ‘why is this happening?; ‘it’s not fair’; I don’t know what to do’ – to a place of clear thinking. And when you’re thinking clearly, it’s easier to see your way out of the fog of despondency, to see the silver lining in what, at first, seems to be nothing more than a hopeless situation.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to live in the past; I don’t do it as much as I used to, but I still do it. Here’s another thing I learned – the past doesn’t exist; it only lives in your mind. That was an eye-opener! Dwelling on negative thoughts about the negative past will only drag you down. Letting go of the past is what frees you to move forward.
Change is scary, I know that. I love my comfort zone, the comfort of things staying the same. But I still went ahead with the divorce because I’d reached my limit, I couldn’t carry on as we were. I kept talking about wanting things to change, that I was ready for whatever challenge change would bring but, deep down, I was scared. But that’s ok, because fear is normal. It doesn’t make any sense to pretend that everything’s ok when, really, you’re scared s**tless. No matter how much you ignore the fear, it isn’t going to disappear. What you can do is shift your relationship with fear. Instead of running away and pretending it isn’t there, face it and work through it, all the while having faith and trust that everything will work out as it should.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt