It seems like everywhere you look today, you’re staring into the face of anger and chaos. People are angry about traffic. People are scared about COVID-19 and the warming climate. People are angry about politics and coffee cups and Youtube videos and every other thing in-between. You can see the anger and unhappiness in people’s faces. You can read it in their Facebook posts and hear it in their voices. We’re all angry and scared. So what can we do about it? How can we find our peace and solitude again?
It can be hard to maintain our cool when we’re living in a world that feels like it’s in fire and packed full of stupid people, but it’s crucial to maintain this state for our physical and mental wellbeing. The fact of the matter is, bad things happen to everyone. Today, it’s coronavirus, but tomorrow it might be something else. If we live long enough in this life, we all come to encounter tragedies that change us and shape us in the fires of their adversity. One of the biggest lessons we can learn in this life is how to turn fear and tragedy into the fuel we need to thrive.
Getting familiar with suffering.
When we are injured by life’s jostling, it’s easy to get mad at yourself or some aspect of the situation you find yourself in. You get angry and question who you are and the people around you. And in the end, you wind up in more distress as you fight an uphill, losing battle. It is this resistance to things that don’t go our way that causes suffering in our lives. Our inability to accept things as they are is the double-edged sword that wounds us time and time again — making life seem impossible to live.
The Buddhists have an equation that summarizes this idea nicely: Pain x Resistance = Suffering. Rather than resisting our pain, creating more suffering in our lives, we have to learn to accept ourselves and our circumstances for who and what they are. When we come to find this level of authentic acceptance, we can develop understanding and compassion for ourselves and the people around us.
Those who can accept their authenticity are those who are happier in their relationships and happier with themselves. The accept their current reality and embrace it with open arms, paying attention to their thoughts, feelings and desires without allowing them to control the situation. Being accepting and compassionate with yourself is a choice and one that must be made consciously every day. Plan for a better future and develop supportive friendships and you’ll find acceptance blooming everywhere in the life around you.
Finding silver-lining solutions.
When the bad gets worse, it becomes easy to dwell on all the ways life is disappointing us. We allow ourselves to get stuck in a negative feedback loop, and from this comes an array of negative behaviors and coping mechanisms. When we get stuck in the doom and the gloom, we bring more doom and gloom into our lives. That’s why it’s so critical to stay focused only on the things you can control when things get rough.
Rather than getting hung up on the things that you can’t change, you have to learn to focus instead on the changes you can bring about. Letting go of our attachment to the things we cannot control allows us to relieve some of the stress that is suffocating us.
To move yourself into a more resourceful state of thinking, consider your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Dwell on the things that you can do, rather than the things you can’t do or the problems that you have. Focusing on solutions, rather than just the disappointments around us allows us to overcome our suffering and survive and thrive in ways we never imagined before.
Our negative coping mechanisms.
Unpleasant situations cause us a lot of discomfort. Whether the discomfort we face is big or small, we want the pain and suffering caused to be over — fast. Part of coming to accept life “as is” is learning also to control the negative impulses and urges that come along with the tougher parts of living. We look for things that feel good to replace the things that feel bad in our lives, but that often leads us down a rabbit hole of even more negativity.
When someone has an extremely high locus of control, they constantly blame the people and circumstances around them for everything. Rather than taking responsibility, they blame others and try to make themselves feel better by blaming everyone around them. Playing the victim is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you forever think of yourself as a victim, the world will see you that way and treat you as such. When you believe that everyone around you is responsible for your life, you start to believe that you can’t control your future and that’s when things go south.
We all know that person who just gives up every time things get a little challenging or uncomfortable. They lose hope and walk away from things that could have been made better, given just a bit more time, and when they do so they shut the door on incredible opportunities. Deciding it’s “not worth it” is often an excuse to do nothing. If we want bigger, better and happier lives, we have to find a way to keep going; and we have to do it of our own power.
Letting depression win
Many of us have faced depression and know how brutal and debilitating the disease can be. Learning to avoid the things that let the depression monster back in is imperative in finding a way forward. When we aren’t careful in managing our emotions, we can find ourselves sinking back into that dark place where more darkness breeds. Rather than dwelling in the bad and letting our lives be taken and destroyed, we have to learn to stand up for ourselves and keep the depression at bay by facing our situations bravely and honestly.
While blaming others isn’t the solution to “finding a way out”, neither is taking on blame for the sins of the entire universe. Take responsibility for the things that are under your control and learn to let everyone else handle their own guilt. Even when we make self-deprecating comments like “I’m so stupid,” we are blaming ourselves for things that are outside of our control. Realize what baggage is truly yours and what baggage belongs to others.
Reacting with anger
When we feel out of touch or out of control with a situation, we often react in anger. We lash out at the people and things that matter the most to us, and shift the blame to them when we can’t control ourselves. Much like victim-blaming, reacting with anger is just another way to make excuses and shift our feelings of guilt and disappointment to a more palatable place…