Once upon a time there was a land where the people expected to find love, prosperity, and happiness . . . always. They expected good luck and good fortune and were bitterly disappointed when the unexpected occurred. The problem was that the unexpected did occur . . . always.
Guess what? We live in that land of uncertainty. We all have our story of what ‘should’ happen in the future. For some, part of that story might be to find love, to do purposeful work, to have children, to stay healthy, and to live long. Many things will happen as planned, but many other things will not.
I have lived for half a century, counseled people for half of that time, and these are just a few of the unexpected, unplanned, and unwanted aspects of life with which I’ve seen people wrestle:
- Clinical Depression
- Death of a Child
- Anxiety Disorders
- Being gay
- Disabled Child
- Substance abuse
- Car accidents
Almost every person alive has something in their life that they didn’t want, didn’t expect, and wished to be otherwise. This runs the gambit from having a headcold during the holidays to visiting a spouse’s grave on their wedding anniversary. Unplanned circumstances are part of life.
The rule of life seems to be curve balls and 180 degree turns. The question is not “Will something happen that I don’t expect?’ The question is “How will I handle the unexpected?”
The wise and wonderful Byron Katie (author of “Loving What Is”) says that when you wage war with reality, you lose. Every time.
Here are 3 strategies to accepting the unacceptable, to learning to live with every ‘inconvenient’ truth that shows up in your life.
- Intention – Every morning when you wake up, say out loud, “I will be open to anything and everything that arises today.” Create an intention to be resilient, to be the person who rolls with the punches.
- Attention – You have a choice in what you notice. Do you focus exclusively on the fact that you’re in an emergency room at 3am or do you notice that you’ve got excellent medical care, a kind nursing staff, and supportive friends? Place your attention on what is going well and what you are grateful for. Turn the flashlight of your attention on the good parts of your life, even during hard times.
- No tension – You will suffer less to the degree that you drop your resistance to what already ‘is’. Resist it and you will suffer more. So work on acceptance, acceptance, and acceptance. Whenever you come in contact with water (the shower, the bathroom sink, a water fountain), say to yourself, “I go with the flow.”
Use these three guidelines to help you flow freely with the things that pop into your life without warning. In fact, the next time the unexpected occurs, say out loud, “Ah yes, I’ve been expecting you.”