Some months ago, I was going through a rough time. Things that were out of my control and other people’s decisions seemed to have found a way into my psyche. And although I was doing most of the things I could do to deal with them, I felt powerless. That phase was taking too much of my time and loads of my energy, and even though I was using the spiritual tools I had to cope with the situation, something was not working. One of my mentors reminded me that it was only life was happening on its own terms. I didn’t like not having control over it.
Maybe you will relate or maybe not, but I tend to spend time trying to figure out the reason behind life’s events: “Is this situation here to show me I need to work more on something? Perhaps my patience or my tolerance?”, “Is this situation preparing me for a similar one in the future?” or “Is this person going teach me something I need to know about myself?” Many times these questions go unanswered. Other times, they don’t. You see, if you think about it objectively (which I don’t always manage to do), whatever we’re presented with, is part of the plan.
One of my favorite authors, Shannon Ables, who is a very wise and assertive woman, wrote on her blog the other day: “Events that are outside of our control can create a sense of panic and fear of the unknown. The reality is the only thing we truly have control over one hundred percent of the time is how we carry ourselves, how we respond to each situation and how we perceive what is going on.”
Even when we do not like the situation we are in, we can still learn from it and move on, because the alternative of staying emotionally attached to all those things we have no control over can be quite frustrating and exhausting. We need to trust. So what is one thing that can work during difficult and not-so difficult times? The answer I found is take action and then let it go.
Some of the attitudes that we can let go of to navigate this day more easily are:
Let go of the things we can’t control
Let go of the things we can’t change
Let go of the outcomes
Let go of the need to control other people
Let go of expectations
The latter is particularly challenging, but if we do, anything good that happens will be a bonus. If things don’t go our way, we won’t feel too disenchanted because we didn’t have unrealistic expectations to start with. If you have Buddhist friends or if you’re familiar with the dharma, then you might have heard what they say: having expectations brings disappointment and frustration. Why? Because we’re attached to a certain outcome or result, but we can’t always predict what those will be, right? We can simply do our very best and release it into the universe, trusting that what happens will be for the best, for us or for those around us.
I know firsthand that it is easier said than done. I also know that letting go needs to be replaced with something positive, substantial and long-lasting, so that we don’t revisit as often those thoughts and behaviors that cause us unrest. And even when we go back (we will), we need to constantly remind ourselves that we can’t control everything.
Finding spirituality to redirect me when my “happy mode” button is off is the solution that has worked for me. Spirituality comes in many shapes and forms and everybody has its own. Mine, in essence, is connecting to a power greater than myself, because I know that I am able to trust that I will be taken care of, that I can ask for help and that the answers will come. And they do, not when I want them, but when the time is right. And the outcomes are usually better than I had anticipated.
Another tool that works for me is writing a gratitude list because I become aware of the blessings already present in my life. This practice makes more room for the positives and shows that I have more than I am even aware of. It is also a good way to realize that the good outweighs the bad.
To motivate myself, every year I get a beautiful journal that I keep together with my daily spiritual reflections and a nice pen to write the things I am grateful for. The idea is to do it daily, which I don’t always succeed to do; but invariably, during those days when I feel like life is being too hard to handle, pulling out that journal and consciously writing the blessings I have, puts me in a better and higher spiritual ground. And, when I write regularly, more good things seem to appear. So when my attitudes or perception of life need adjustment, the effective soulful recipe is to let go and be grateful for what I have. I’m in good hands.