Accepting Predicaments

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“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants you to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.” ~ Dan Millman

It is generally acknowledged that there are two things we can count on in life: death and taxes. I would offer there are two more: stress and pain, which reveal in emotions such as shame, guilt, fear and anger. And when we experience these, we often feel the need to “fix” them.

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “What would it be like to have no problems?” Imagine the stress in that world! Think this through… having problems or challenges actually enables you to develop creative solutions. And once you’ve solved a problem, you feel a sense of fulfillment. Right? If you had no challenges, boredom would set in and boredom can be seriously stressful.

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There are lessons in predicaments, pain and inconvenience. They actually describe for us a way of being. Our work can be done from the perspective that life’s challenges teach us and we grow through the opportunities of problems. As difficult as they may be, they do make life interesting. (And yes, “interesting” may not be the ideal descriptor).

In my observations, most people feel that when their life is filled with resistance, obstacles and challenges, it’s because they are doing something wrong. To an earlier reference, we launch in “fixer” mode. We ask ourselves, “What do I need to do to get rid of this?” or “How can I fix this problem so it goes away?”

When things don’t go our way, we get upset, sometimes angry. And stressed.

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Here are two thoughts; perhaps you’ve considered them: 1) Simply focus on the things that really matter and; 2) The solutions to the problems you face are already within you. You only need to bring your energy and attention to them.

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As you encounter life’s predicaments here are three ways in which to ease their acceptance:

  1. Respond with a positive attitude. Challenges often have two participants: a victor and a victim. Victor’s mentally prepare, using tools to boost their confidence and positively rise above the pain or challenge. Victims frequently choose to accept the status quo.
  2. Promote patience. When confronted with a challenge, permit the circumstances to fully reveal before making judgments. Allowing time to pass can help to facilitate change. Make use of available techniques (prayer, meditation, contemplation) to learn the virtues of patience and endurance.
  3. Banish self-pity. Yes, people still have pity parties. And if that’s where one chooses to spend time, so be it. Be watchful though for the “It’s not fair” or “Why me?” statements when things are challenging. Those reactions can reflect an attitude of entitlement. Be open to accepting these situations as gifts rather than suffering.

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75 thoughts on “Accepting Predicaments

  1. I would say to Dan … Finding a way to stop wanting and going with the flow also works…. but is not available to most of us.
    Until that day comes I like your advice Eric πŸ™‚

  2. My life, not perfect by any means, but pretty easy by world standards. I’m living proof of how the old noggin can churn up problems out of thin air. My self care? Exercise. Hang on to the bed post. Coffee, but not too much.

    Patience, banishing self-pity and promoting positive follow, if the wind is blowing my way.

    Nice post. Like the quote. Did you do the image of the fish?

    • No, the image is sourced for foter.com (Photo credit: nuanc / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND) It’s titled “Yellow Woman 2.” Thank you for your kind comment about the post and for adding your personal thoughts. Good self-care practices! πŸ™‚

  3. Life is interesting and challenging only because of predicaments, stress and pain are natural stimulants to get going, to live meaningfully and learn from those experiences that eventually ennoble us and give us a sense of fulfilment.

  4. that was really well written and wise.
    i’d like to be patient and i’d like to focus on what really matters, but what if my stress and pain make it impossible to follow your advice. i think it’s great advice, but i don’t think i could ever do it. what then?

    just some thoughts that came to mind when i read what you wrote. i thought it sounded great, but when i thought about it applying it to me and my issues, it seems insurmountable.

    is my attitude too negative? is there anything i can do to help myself if i don’t have a sense of hope…?

    all rhetorical questions. obviously what you wrote is thought provoking! thanks for sharing!

    • Yours are good and understandable questions, Ruthie. If one tethers to a mind-set of lacking or incapable of effecting desired change, then often that’s where they’ll remain. If, on another hand, one makes conscious choice(s) to shift their perspectives, then they can create space, intention and focus in which to begin to see different possibilities. A sense of hope always exists… one just needs to be aware of that and place themselves on a positive trajectory. It doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a process. A doable process… with favorable outcomes. πŸ™‚

  5. Another good, though tough one, is not to hyper-speculate. In other words, not to reach out in thought to the myriad potentialities. Most predicaments resolve in simplicity, quite often of their own accord. We exhaust ourselves planning for a thousand eventualities only to discover that none of them were fulfilled and that something else altogether ensued. It’s a fine line between dropping into hyper-speculation and the mental preparation you wisely advocate Eric. Many thanks as ever for your wise words – Hariod.

    • Agreed, Hariod, speculating is simply projecting. Quite a different state than that of intentional (positive) visualizing. And yes, most predicaments *do* resolve on their own accord. A clear delineation you share. Thank you.

  6. Eric, if I didn’t have the life experience I’ve learned from, I fear I’d be so much further behind. I am thankful for each tough road and for every tough road there has been three gorgeous paths. Life is best when we continue to breathe through the rough spots. Life changes for the better when one can look at an obstacle and smile. Time allows for a revolution or a resolution, I think. Sounds silly, but I was taught to say yes and see where it takes me.

    Thanks for such a lovely reminder.

    • I know it’s cliche but I do subscribe to “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” To which I have learned to add… the bigger stuff, too. I love “…when we continue to breathe through the rough spots.” A simple yet powerful perspective. And revolution versus resolution… I intend to borrow that expression and belief! πŸ™‚ Thanks for your beautiful thoughts, Audrey.

  7. Great advice! The question you asked about ‘what it would be like to have no problems’ is not something I consider as problems are subjective anyway. People we may see as having no problems may not see themselves that way. Love the two thoughts, and having patience, not always easy but very good advice.

    • That’s a different view, Kellie; one I appreciate! Viewing problems as subjective; that turns them on their head for many people. πŸ™‚ Thanks for creating time to share these thoughts. They’re worth pondering.

  8. I love the thought that the solutions to our problems are already within us. Worth more pondering. And since everything is relative, focusing on what really matters…always helps too.But I don’t think I would become bored if I didn’t have any problems…I’d like to try that to see how it’d feel πŸ™‚

    • I’ve long believed (and known) that solutions to our problems are within us. I see it repeatedly in my work. It is, however, challenging knowledge for many people. And I’m unaware of anyone who hasn’t had or doesn’t have problems so I cannot say, assuredly, that people would become bored sans problems. Truth be known, I like solving problems. Here’s to your finding that opportunity to see how it feels. πŸ™‚

  9. Since I am actually living a moment of high stress ( and a lot of troubles) , I ‘ ll take this as a very sound reminder. What did you say? “The solution is within me?” I’ll start searching soon. Cheers. Stefy. πŸ™‚

    • As shared in another reply, Stefy, the solution is within each of us. I know that sounds too easy for some people yet I have seen it revealed countless times. Here’s to your searching and eventual clarity with direction and outcomes!

  10. Patience I struggle with…endurance I have tenfold. And it’s true, Eric, time passing can facilitate change….most times I’ve found than even when faced with what looks insurmountable at the beginning, in the end puts me in a much better place. It’s just that whole patience thing that I need to work on……

    • I like and am encouraged by your acknowledged 10:1 ratio! If it’s any consolation, you are far from alone. This writer is supremely challenged with patience; a matter I have consciously worked on for years. πŸ™‚ And I’m making measurable progress.

    • Indeed, Linda, opposition, duality, contrast, etc… each is valuable in its own right – helping us to reset, choose wisely, and appreciate how possibilities can be viewed through different, positive lenses. πŸ™‚

    • Agreed, Michael, though I suspect “speaking to us so very sweetly…” can be challenging for some to feel, appreciate and/or accept. If, however, one chooses a mind-set and filter through which to envision beautiful outcomes, then favor will manifest. Nice thoughts. Thank you.

  11. Some things in life are unavoidable. It’s how we deal with them that matters, and I try to keep a positive attitude through all that is not always pleasant.

  12. Your words are wise ~ and I wish I could talk to my 20 year-old self about this although somehow I think I wouldn’t get through that young mind πŸ™‚ It is such a part of life, almost every day life at time when things don’t go our way, and the younger/less experienced self would often get upset and stressed as there is so much uncertainty it add to the fear. I do not know when patience is learned in life, but there may not be a better remedy to all that ails than time (and the patience to let time sort out the mess!).

    • Your comment reminds me of the saying, “When your past calls don’t answer, it has nothing new to say.” Rather that wishing you could talk to your 20 year-old self, counseling your present self is good awareness and likely, valuable. We get to appreciate and take our accumulated wisdom forward; it nurtures our growth. Indeed, the man who writes uniquely about time, again acknowledges it value. I have a friend who periodically uses the word “messorama” to describe people and circumstances. It’s usually apt. Thanks for sharing these good, reflective thoughts, Randy.

  13. Struggles are only struggles because we haven’t figured out how to solve the problem yet. Getting dressed was a huge struggle as a child because you had never done it. This is a lesson I’m just coming into in life! Cheers!

  14. Most of our stress comes from not living in the present moment, worrying abut the future. We have to face challenges, yes, and work our way through them. But when we see the bigger picture and face life with a positive attitude the words ‘this too will pass’ enable us to be content πŸ™‚

  15. Point#3 Banish self-pity! Ah… My life became so much easier after that. I stopped looking at myself as a victim and started focussing as a survivor. At this stage in my life, so many things are in my hands and yet so many of them are not. I was channeling my energies into the latter when honestly, I could have done otherwise and made it a better place to handle.
    Better late than never I suppose. An inspiring post Eric πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Prajakta. And survivors choose to become thrivers! Your comment reminds me of counsel my mother always verbalized when I was a teen and young adult… “If you’d only channel your energies in the proper direction, there’d be no stopping you.” Alas, I was young and unwise. Better late than never, indeed. πŸ™‚

  16. And in our world, all too often Ger, we fail to create that space and practice patience. And we wonder why (rushed) matters didn’t work out as we had envisioned. Here’s to our remaining aware of those solutions within us!

  17. It’s really helpful to be reminded that simply responding with a positive attitude can ease the anxiety of finding myself in a predicament. I do have history of realizing that things tend to work out, either by themselves in time, or I do often have a resolution that comes to mind. I tend to work my way back to positive, but I can’t honestly say that my first (or second) response is generally to be calm and collected. You’ve provided some good reasons why I might want to work on that! πŸ™‚

    • I suspect, Debra, that the first and possibly second response for many people is not calm and collected. πŸ™‚ Kudos to you for choosing to work your way back to positive perspectives. When positive is coupled with time/patience, outcomes are often, predictably favorable. Pleased to learn that the post serves to remind!

  18. Well Eric, you know me (already, in such a short time) I am far from the self-pity and woe-is-me group; I totally believe that every single thing we experience is an opportunity for growth and usually the tougher the experience the bigger the lesson and growth; I am absolutely in the positive attitude category; and as for patience, the older I get, the more I have – must be all those experiences teaching me…

    • As I choose to step away from blogging, Dale, I sense an unusual calm (and therein, comfort) that not only will you continue to grow but that you’ll flourish. Some people are simply blessed to be from ‘good stock’ and are intended to rise above and live life as fully as possible. Her’s to our getting older, wiser, and acknowledging all with which we are truly blessed. πŸ™‚

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