Suffering is Optional

sufferingoptional“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

                                       Suffering = Change x Resistance
According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

© 2017 Maureen Weisner

The Three Rs: Rumination* Regret * Refocus

noregrets-movingonRumination, or dwelling persistently on distressing situations from the recent or distant path, saps our energy, confidence, and ability to solve problems. We all know someone like this, and it could even be YOU. When Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” he was probably not referring to an endless and counterproductive focus on the past.

Get over, over thinking. It’s a trap, a habit that can be changed. Are we primed to ruminate? According to psychology professor, Stephen Ilardi, memories are linked to powerful emotional associations. Common themes may be familiar to you like: “I can’t believe I said that or replaying what might have been a better or faster response in a personal or professional setting.” When an unpleasant event puts us in a despondent mood, it’s easier to recall other times when we’ve felt terrible, which can set the stage for a downward spiral. If events in the past were negative, then present and even future events will also go wrong. We think we can “fix” the problem by playing it over and over. On the contrary, the more we do this, the more it ramps up activity in the brain’s stress-response which can eventually sap motivation. No winners here.

Yes, this is much more typical in women than men. In a series of studies, women were more likely to accept undue responsibility for other’s well being. They also were less likely than men to believe they had control over negative emotions or important events in their lives.

Ruminators are not worriers, who tend to live in the future and are concerned about what could happen. Their anxiety is forward focused on what has yet to happen. The ruminator already has a scenario and replays it. Not only does this send you into the past without a time-machine and an eraser, but it takes your attention away from the present and the opportunity to refocus on what you have learned and how you can change.

We have all had unpleasant memories or regrets about things we said or did. You cannot change history, but if you cannot let it go, call Jane/John/Jasper, apologize and move on. Sometimes that is easier said than done, but it will put an end to at least one cycle of personal discomfort and afford you some closure and even relief. It’s also important to recognize that some behaviors are habits that you have the power to short circuit and change the outcome before it becomes another “thing” to focus on looking backward.
©MWeisner2017

The Three Rs: Ruminate – Regret – Refocus

rogowski-225x300Does your thinking have you stuck in a rut? Rumination, or dwelling persistently on distressing situations from the recent or distant path, saps our energy, confidence, and ability to solve problems. We all know someone like this, and it could even be YOU. When Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” he was probably not referring to an endless and counterproductive focus on the past.

Get over, over thinking. It’s a trap, a habit that can be changed. Are we primed to ruminate? According to psychology professor, Stephen Ilardi, memories are linked to powerful emotional associations. Common themes may be familiar to you like: “I can’t believe I said that or replaying what might have been a better or faster response in a personal or professional setting. When an unpleasant event puts us in a despondent mood, it’s easier to recall other times when we’ve felt terrible, which can set the stage for a downward spiral. If events in the past were negative, then present and even future events will also go wrong. We think we can “fix” the problem by playing it over and over. On the contrary, the more we do this, the more it ramps up activity in the brain’s stress-response which can eventually sap motivation. No winners here.

Yes, this is much more typical in women than men. In a series of studies, women were more likely to accept undue responsibility for other’s well being. They also were less likely than men to believe they had control over negative emotions or important events in their lives.

Ruminators are not worriers, who tend to live in the future and are concerned about what could happen. Their anxiety is forward focused on what has yet to happen. The ruminator already has a scenario and replays it. Not only does this send you into the past without a time-machine and an eraser, but it takes your attention away from the present and the opportunity to focus on what you have learned and how you can change.

We have all had unpleasant memories or regrets about things we said or did. You cannot change history, but if you cannot let it go, call Jane/John/Jasper, apologize and move on. Sometimes that is easier said than done, but it will put an end to at least one cycle of personal discomfort and afford you some closure and even relief. It’s also important to recognize that some behaviors are habits that you have the power to short circuit and change the outcome before it becomes another “thing” to focus on looking backward. 
©MWeisner2014