The Keys to Serenity with Love & Light
Everyone wants the best for other people.
You probably heard the above statement many times before. But despite all our good intentions, our critical mistake is we tend to project our thoughts and perspectives of others by imposing our views on what is good and right for them.
Ask yourself how often do we think “XX should ....,” and believe that it is coming from a place of love filled with great intention?
The truth is when we perceive certain qualities or behaviors as “good” or “bad,” "right" or "wrong," "should" or "shouldn't," "must" or "must not", we are judging what is by asserting someone else ought to be a certain way. More specifically, your way. In this vein, many don't see that we are attempting to control the situation and the person.
When we are in that place, our action is sending this message: “The way how I want you to be is more important than the way you choose to live your life.” Go deeper, you will see you are conveying, "My way is the right way because I know best!"
Being such a way is not just overbearing.
This is all about control.
Why would that be? Remember, everyone has different values and priorities. There is not one right or best way to live life. Saying someone or something should be different from the way that things are is an arrogant proposition. You are saying that something is WRONG the way it is (from your point of view).
We are not saying the world can’t change, or people can’t grow and improve.
What it just means is that even when we think we know what’s best for another person. In actual fact we can never really know because we are not them! We have not walked a day in their shoes or lived years in their skins, especially when we have had similar experiences. It is different for everybody.
At any point in time, we can only be in one of these three places:
World & Universe
These are only things you can control in life; your actions, choices, and reactions..
Similarly, others are responsible for their own actions, choices, and reactions.
Everything else in life such as time, the changing of the seasons, or other unexpected events that occur are entirely an act of God.
Nearly every time we feel pain and suffering, it is often the result of us being in somebody else’s business or attempting to control something entirely out of our control.
If you think “XX should be here by now!” and XX is not here yet, what does that feel like?
Probably not very good, right?
You might feel anger, sadness, or disappoint.
Instead of resisting what is, expecting it should be a different way, we accept what is without judgment.
When we can do this. We will then see the reality without any resistance.
By this we mean let's cultivate greater awareness of the expectations and assumptions we carry with us in life. Seeing things as they are means we now can let go of those expectations and assumptions when they clash with reality.
Embracing what is doesn’t mean we need to put up with things that conflict with our values or priorities. However, instead of arguing with reality, and getting upset about something out of our control, focus instead, which action we can take that what is in our control.
We always have control over whom we spend our time with, what we do for work, and where we invest our energy.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change what I can
Also, the wisdom to know the difference.”
~ Reinhold Niebuhr
Indeed. Echoes of these wise words can be heard in many support groups. Indeed. Accepting what is - a crucial step in reducing stress and symptoms of mental health issues.
I ACCEPT what I cannot change other people’ by my own ego and force
I CHANGE what I can by taking actions at the level of ME
I PROMOTE/CREATE awareness to recognize the difference.
Whenever a negative thought arises, we can ask ourselves a few questions to turn our thoughts around by shifting how we react to the events and people that stress us and thus end our suffering.
Byron Katie’s “Loving What Is” approach she called “The Work” helps us pull off this shift in perspective by asking and answering four straightforward questions for any stressful thought:
Is this thought true?
Can I be certain that it’s true without a doubt?
How do I react when I believe this thought?
Whom would I be without this thought?
When we talk about stress, we usually say “this project is stressing me out,” or “My husband stressing about us going to this event next week.” Using this kind of language has one fatal flaw though: it puts the responsibility on other people and external events.
However, stress isn’t inherently created by those things. It’s only in how we process these things that they suddenly become stressful in our heads. Our interpretation of what’s going on is what causes us stress about it – or maybe getting angry. When we give up the meaning we give to those things, we’ll transform our very own experience of it too.
How could that be? Well, for example, let’s say you have an assignment for class, and your partner hasn’t sent you his/her slides the night before it’s due. You might think: “XX is unreliable. How can he/she do this to me?”
Write this thought down and then go through the questions.
Is XX unreliable?
Can we tell from experience that this is true without any doubt? Has this happened before? Are we 100% sure XX’s unreliable?
What’s our reaction to it? Do I get defensive? Angry? Helpless?
What if I didn’t think this thought?
Once we start digging, our most negative thoughts quickly fall apart. We can then turn them around. Literally. We flip the original thought on its head in various ways and observe how each one makes us feel.
Sticking with the example above, the thought “XX is unreliable” might become “Am I unreliable?” or “XX is reliable to his/her friends, why shouldn’t he/she be to me?” or “Does XX think I’m unreliable?” etc.
The feelings and reactions we’ll have to all these options will differ significantly – and they should!
We may even want to answer the four questions again. Especially those that we may feel particularly strong wanting to be right about.
Being frustrated about reality doesn’t change anything.
The weather’s always a good icebreaker. It’s neutral, it’s always there, everyone has to deal with it, and no one can do much about it. However, it’s also a good way of spotting complainers, because people who complain about the weather tend to complain about much other stuff they can’t control too.
Complaining has a value of zero. Everybody has problems. Most people don’t care about yours. Whining to empty air isn’t going to change anything.
We can’t change reality by being frustrated about it. Unless we use that energy to do something about it, our frustration is useless.