The “I hate this” “This isn’t fair” road to nowhere…..
By: Sheila Anderson, MA, LAMFT
How often do you find yourself saying “I hate this” or “this isn’t fair?” I like to call these quicksand statements. They are statements that keep us ruminating about past events and usually only add fuel to our already flamin’ hot emotional state of mind.
How do we avoid quicksand statements? Sometimes in life our experiences leave us with an uneasy feeling, one we wish we would not have experienced at all. An analogy from my own life comes to mind….. I think about times when I have had to have a painful medical procedure done. My emotional mind says “run Sheila run!” and my reasonable mind says things like, “the procedure is necessary.” When I finally do get into wise mind, I settle on “let’s do this thing, it will surely be uncomfortable for awhile, but it is necessary and the long-term benefits outweigh the temporary discomfort.”
Ahhh…..there is nothing like the peace of wise mind. If I chose to use quicksand statements, I would have chased away the people in my life I needed at that time, no one wants to stand next to someone in quicksand right? Right. Accepting both parts of the reality that 1) there was pain, and 2) the procedure was necessary allowed me to keep people I love close to me when I needed them the most, and even helped me recover faster.
Fighting, avoiding, and procrastinating are all energy draining activities. Accepting reality is an energy-saver. It’s not a willy-nilly who cares attitude, its a proactive approach that transports you to the point of rationally evaluating your circumstances and deciding your next best step.
If you hear quicksand statements coming out of your mouth (which happens to all of us at one time or another), try following them with a BIG BUT. “I hate this, BUT I know that if I don’t do this I will lose my job.” “This isn’t fair, BUT it is what it is and I am going to deal with it the best I can.” The more times you save yourself from saying quicksand statements in the first place- the better, BUT if saying “this isn’t fair and” I hate this” have become a habit for you, it may take some time relying on BUT statements to get you through. Do what you gotta do.
Let’s pretend that I got fired from my job. Do I hate this?……YES! Do I think this is unfair?……YES! I am very angry about the whole situation. The more I think about the situation, the angrier I am getting. Chances are, if I feel like giving my boss a piece of my mind it is probably not going to be the generous gifting of a piece of my wise mind, its probably going to be a different piece…. if you know what I mean.
The truth of the matter is that I probably won’t ever come to the point of agreeing with my boss for her choice to fire me. Do I need to agree with her choice? No not necessarily. So….I must re-focus my energy and tend to the issue at hand. I need to accept the reality that I no longer have a job. I need to accept that reality in order to make a mindful, wise decision about what to do next. Although it may be difficult, I must accept my jobless reality, which will allow me the freedom to concentrate on finding a productive way of dealing with the situation and moving forward. In this particular situation, acceptance might also free me up to evaluate why I lost my job so that I can learn from any mistakes I made and make better and/or different choices in the future.
Acceptance of reality and agreeing with what’s happening in reality are two very different things. This is important to understand. If quicksand statements seem to flow freely from your lips, it might be that you are feeling forced into agreeing with something that you don’t feel is right. The reality is that in many cases your agreement with the situation is not necessary. What is necessary is accepting the reality of a situation so that you can move forward.
Moving forward may require you to ask yourself what aspects of the situation are within your power to change, and which ones are not. Until you classify the changeable from the unchangeable aspects of a situation you will struggle in quicksand, and watch your precious problem-solving energy evaporate.
No matter what your situation, your perspective is one of those aspects within your power to change. What situations in your own life, either past or present need a reality acceptance overhaul? In evaluating those situations, what do you have the power to change?
“If you can’t change your circumstances, change your perspective.” ~ Unknown