Don’t you just love when you can’t get out of your own way? Or when your resistance is squawking and your attempts to shut it down prove unsuccessful? It can be pretty frustrating, to say the least.
Recently, I had plans to get together with friends, but something came up at the last minute and we had to cancel. I was disappointed but the cause was out of my hands. I found myself stewing.
I was looking forward to seeing them, and disappointing friends is not high on my priority list. There I sat, aggravated. Wishing the opposite was true. Annoyed that I had no control over this change in plans.
After I suffered for a sufficient amount of time, I decided to check myself.
Is my being annoyed going to change the fact that I had to cancel plans?
Nope, it sure isn’t.
Then how am I benefitting from ruminating about this? What’s the payout? (This is my go-to question when I let mental clutter like this fester.)
Well, if I stay pissed off then I don’t have to feel the sadness of disappointment and the guilt of cancelling.
Oh, it’s easier to feel angry than sad or guilty?
Of course it is. Feeling anger doesn’t require vulnerability.
So it’s vulnerability I’m avoiding, not just sadness or guilt.
Whatever. I’m done with this game.
But there it was. When I dug under the mental clutter of ruminating and anger, I came upon the real source of my suffering — a resistance to feel uncomfortable emotions.
I could save myself hours of anger by simply giving myself the 15 minutes or so I needed to feel sad.
So, after some short-term pouting, I chose to accept the reality, and then I was able to enjoy a nice, relaxing evening at home. The fight is always futile. No joy or benefit comes from fighting your resistance. Instead, you end up suffering more by fighting back and indulging the tantrum.
After all, what we resist, persists, right? Disliking the way things are right now, and spending your energy on disliking it, is never the answer to making it better. In fact, your suffering is almost always caused by your resistance to what is.
I’m going to repeat that because it’s important:
Your suffering is almost always caused by you resisting what is.
Think about an area of your life that you wish was different, better, or easier. How much of the aggravation you feel is due to you wishing the situation was different? When you resist something so strongly, you keep yourself tangled up in the undesired situation which then ends up perpetuating it.
The key to breaking it? Yup, you guessed it — let it be. Try releasing your grip on how frustrating things are, and you’ll not only feel some quick relief to your stress, but you’ll also be able to more easily come up with a plan to get around it.
So when you find yourself annoyed, aggravated, or hurt, stop and ask, “Is there anything I can do to change the reality of my current situation?”
If there isn’t, recognize your suffering for what it is and give yourself permission to let go. If you are able to identify logical action steps to help you out of your dilemma, start by deciding which small, manageable move to make first.
Now I want to hear from you:
- What are you feeling frustrated about?
- If you shift your focus from frustration to solutions, what ideas do you come up with?
- If you struggle to come up with possible solutions, what would you tell a friend who has come to you with the same dilemma?
Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below.