Hypothetically, let’s say you feel absolutely terrible. Physically, mentally, emotionally — something just ain’t right. So you go see your doctor right away.
The doctor says, “Mmm hmm… I understand your symptoms. I know just what the problem is. I’m going to prescribe some medicine for your ex.”
You reply, “Thanks, doc. I feel much better already!”
Sounds kinda ridiculous, no? But how many of us are out here trying to write scripts for our partners, exes, neighbors, coworkers, and families?
And is that really the solution? We need other people to change?
What Would Healed Look Like?
Whenever I get sideways about a relationship or even a problem within myself, I like to ask myself the question, “What would healed look like?” To this day, I’ve never come to the conclusion that the healthiest version of myself requires other people to act differently.
Actually, quite the opposite is true. I usually find that my best self is totally accepting of who people are, what they do, and what they fail to do — even if I don’t like it. Even if it means I need to have a difficult conversation, set a boundary, or completely walk away from someone forever.
Yeah, I get it, other people can be super toxic and exhibit problematic behavior. But more often than not, the problem is that I haven’t yet figured out how to protect myself from them. And yes, there are obviously a lot of wounded, racist, sexist, greedy, abusive people in the world. Would it be lovely if they all changed? You bet.
But hitching my well-being to the hope that eight billion people will all one day get their shit together in unison so I can live in peace is clearly more of an excuse than a strategy for success.
Drop Your Expectations
In a series of lectures (transcribed into the book Awareness), spiritual teacher Anthony De Mello exclaims, “You had better behave as I have decided you have to behave or else I shall punish myself by having negative feelings!”
He follows up this tongue-in-cheek remark by explaining, “Part of waking up is that you live your life as you see fit and understand that it is not selfish. The selfish thing is to demand that someone else live their life as you see fit. That’s selfish!”
Let that one simmer in your ego’s little saucepan for a minute.
Bad Things Happen to Good People
Welcome to Earth. Shit happens. You have every right to be upset by the savagery of this gnarly existence. But know that you are never truly powerless. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl (whose entire family was murdered in the Nazi death camps) tells us:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
Life is hard y’all. You can get bitter, or you can get better.
But please don’t blame your choice on someone else.
*This article contains an Amazon affiliate link to the book mentioned