What would you say if I told you that you create most of your suffering?
The truth is that you do!
A quick story.
I got to a point where the burden and stress I was creating for my life became so intolerable that it finally brought me to my knees. Humbly I asked, “I wonder if there’s a better way to live!”
I became obsessed to understand and study human nature and our relationship to stress and grief. “Is a life of consistent peace and joy even possible?” — that was my question. To my surprise, the people that were the happiest and fulfilled were also the ones who had faced extraordinary challenges. My problems were frail compared to what some of them had gone through.
The second thing I found with the people I looked at, was that in spite of having faced such adversity, they all had a transformative experience that left them with tremendous resilience and fulfillment. The most intriguing thing about the people I studied was that instead of staying chained to their pain, they all came out on the other side with a huge sense of gratitude and peace. Without exception, these people seemed to have stumbled onto something that propelled them into a life of peaceful bliss.
I was intrigued.
“What do these people know that we don’t?
I read about these people’s lives and their experiences. I attended their talks, I listened to all they were willing to share and I was stunned to learn that there is no mystery at all to what they knew. This gift, this knowledge they had acquired, that broke them free of their suffering, is actually available to anyone who seeks it.
It all boils down to five principles that we all universally face, but we often ignore. After studying and applying these principles myself, this is what I’ve come to understand — it is our avoidance of these principles that gives root to most of our human suffering. Conversely, the key to achieving our most desired goal: lasting peace and happiness, depends largely on us learning to embrace these universal principles.
Today, I’d like to share one of the five principles that deal with accepting life as it is rather than as you want it to be. These principles have drastically transformed my life and the lives of many before me. I hope it can do the same for you.
Being Receptive to the Flow of Life
You create your own pain. Sadly, the majority of our lives are spent in survival mode, ruled by the hormones of stress. This may sound absurd for you since we are conditioned to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Paradoxically, however, when we are in pain we attach ourselves to the hurt and often make it a permanent emotion in our lives.
The main culprits? Our expectations and resistance to what is. Yes, the principle is that simple: zero resistance, zero suffering!
We spend our entire lives trying to change external outcomes in an effort to obtain what we think we want and need. These include everything from our relationships, possessions, lives, goals, health and even our own mortality.
The ideas we have about how things should be, only exist in our heads.
Am I saying to sit back and do nothing? Not a chance. What I am saying is that there’s a specific way to deal with life circumstances as they happen.
The toughest of the five principles for me is to view the situation as it is instead of what it could or should be. If you desire to live a more peaceful life, you will need to stop expecting the world to turn out the way you tell yourself it should be.
The ‘could and should’ are often separated by a big scary void from what actually ‘is’. I spent years living in anxiety and disappointment due to the stories I told myself about how the world needed to be in order for me to feel good and safe. Anything that didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned would set me off on a tantrum, upset and thus, I created a lot of unnecessary stress for my life and those around me, who sadly felt the wrath of my discontent.
It was not until I began to surrender to the flow of life, without judgment and expectation that I began to experience peace in my life. When shit happens as it often does, accepting that not everything will go your way is a quick way to get over the disappointment or preventing the feeling of disappointment altogether.
I spent so much time trying to make sense of why things happened as they did, why someone did what they did, or why someone said what they said — a great recipe for insanity, don’t you think?
I have come to accept that it is not my job to understand why others do what they do. Surrendering the need to know the why of things was a quick way to remove the frustration and disappointment I had in my life. We don’t have to know the why of everything that happens. Sometimes things just are.
Now before you object, I was once like you. I used to think that people who accepted things were nothing but conformist, settlers and as such unsuccessful because they just accepted whatever happened to them without putting up a fight.
I could not have been more wrong.
Accepting reality as it is, is not giving up. On the contrary, accepting life for what it is, frees you from the feeling of hurt and frustration. It allows you to free enough of your energy to create a more positive state of being. We become free to act without being controlled by the hormones of stress. You can actually think clearly and become a more conscious and active creator of your life.
The mere fact of accepting life for what it is, allows you to move on to achieve your goals because you are not stuck on the negativity of things and that makes you unstoppable.
Let me repeat this again, ACCEPTANCE IS NOT BEING WEAK OR GIVING UP. It doesn’t mean you throw in the towel and all of the sudden you are resigning yourself to a life where you have no power or influence, putting up with just whatever happens to bump into you. It also doesn’t mean that you have to like everything that happens, not at all.
Accepting that things are as they are, allows you to move away from the mindset that often enslaves you. The quicker we accept that things are as they are, without resistance, the quicker our mind can open itself to other possibilities that we may not have previously considered — because we had focused all our energy on one possibility only.
Resisting life as it is happening blinds you from seeing alternative avenues and experiences that await for you outside the narrow path of possibilities you often create for yourself. Trying to control the world around you to mold life to the way you think it needs to be, will only make you miss the wonderful things meant for you because you simply cannot even conceive of them.
For years I held on to ideas, people and emotions that were detrimental to my wellbeing. I was so attached to an illusion, always judging and interpreting life through my blurry and narrow lenses and in that process, I wasted so much time in anxiety and disappointment when instead I could have been enjoying the life I was meant to have.
Looking back now I can see that the happiness I was chasing after was always there, in front of me. I passed up my happiness for misery because I didn’t do one thing.
What’s the one thing I didn’t do?
I did not accept the situation for what it is which would have allowed me to stay in the flow!
Be open to what is being presented for you. Relinquish the resistance you have towards an outcome that you desire because after all, if that outcome is not meant for you, no matter what you do, it will not happen. Conversely, what is meant to happen for you, you can’t stop, even if you try. So instead of creating suffering for yourself when something doesn’t pan out, don’t stress. Become mindful of what is actually being given to you by life — believe it or not, sometimes not getting the outcome we want is often a great blessing.
“So do I still strive for things or do I just wait for what life brings to me?” That’s the question I often get asked.
It is important that you still create goals and move towards your dreams and that you accompany your goals with action. Accepting life for what it is and staying in the flow doesn’t mean you stop working towards achieving your dreams. It is important that you continue to work towards your goals and set clear intentions, but equally important is for you to let go of the need to control the outcome and the timelines.
Staying in the flow means that you stay open to other possibilities. Life will often recalibrate our direction and take us on an alternative path because that path is the one meant for us. We must exercise gratitude when this happens.
If you constantly resist and stay inflexible, you will face painful times swimming upstream, missing the beautiful flow of the current that is there, available to take you to your ultimate goal — the fulfillment of your soul.
I will give you an example of what happened to me when I was resisting the flow of life. About a year and a half ago, I met a man I became romantically involved with. We clicked and complemented each other in more ways than I have time to tell you. However, I had all kinds of ideas built in my head over the years as to how the perfect relationship should be. I had all kinds of expectations about how much time he needed to dedicate to me, how quickly certain things needed to happen and all the things he needed to do and say.
Anything outside of this box was not going to work for me. I was completely narrow-minded, judging the outcome of this relationship based on my past experiences and ideas rather than on seeing things by their own merit and actuality. Now looking back, I see how crazy this was.
To make a long story short, I had my own plans — LIFE HAD HERS — of course!
Needless to say, every idea I had in my head as to what this relationship needed to be like, did not pan out. As soon as I saw it wasn’t going to produce the outcome I had created in my mind, I began to experience anxiety over it. I complained, judged, analyzed and worse, my mind did what it did best, it pulled me back into what is familiar and known to my subconscious mind.
The usual voices in my head kicked in, “It is not going to work. It is not like any other relationship you ever had. He doesn’t have much time to give you. He is too busy, his every minute is accounted for. He has way too many balls in the air —you will never be a priority. This is not a normal relationship…” and so on and so on, you get the idea no?
I was quickly given a VIP seat on the famous flight-or-fight roller coaster ride of emotions. My systematic nervous system was activated. I went up and down the speed track fueled by a slew of 30 or so hormones and chemicals —the adrenaline rush accompanied by its many insidious friends; noradrenaline, dopamine, epinephrine, and cortisol took control and the chemicals took me hostage. My body tensed, my heart rate increased, my bloodstream went on overdrive, I was running high, ready for war, ready to face the threat.
I was so focused on an outcome that I had built in my head that not getting close to this outcome produced a chemical warfare in my system, sending me to a state of stress and discontent. Suddenly, all I could do is see this new relationship through fatalistic lenses —ready to leave it before it began.
This is the problem of living our lives always resisting what is, we are conditioned by our societal matrix to perpetually judge and classify things through good, bad, normal and not normal lenses all of which are an illusion and far from the actual reality.
I was reminded that what we resist persists. My intuitive guide, Sabrina Heartsong, prompted me to perhaps consider that this relationship was showing up in my life in such a way as to teach me how to stay in the flow and learn something that life was so gracefully presenting. She told me my relationship with this man had manifested itself exactly the way I energetically attracted it. The universe was showing me the areas in my life that still needed healing.
She was right!
Using the past to predict the future:
I had to go within and understand that just because I had a thought about how a real relationship should be, it didn’t mean that a different way couldn’t be great and fulfilling as well.
I was being taught the wonderful gift of staying open to seeing other possibilities that I had not in the past considered because I was too blinded by expecting life to go my way.
We are accustomed to using our past emotions and experiences to predict the future. By doing that, it only leads us to face the same type of experiences we have in the past because we block the possibility of something other than what we think can be great.
Wow, what a lesson!
I took a step back and objectively began to pay attention to all the things I was resisting in my life —not just in this relationship. I realized it made no sense to be so attached to my old ways of seeing the world and understood that this stubborn mindset was what was causing me so much fear and stress. So instead of fighting it, I chose to accept the situation for what it was —he was a busy, complete and an evolved being. My subconscious was not used to that, (lol).
Life was gifting me exactly what I attracted —a fully evolved human, already with a life that was full, fulfilled, and happy. One who didn’t need to be in a relationship at all. He was here because he wanted to be here. I didn’t need to save him. I didn’t need to mold or shape him. He wasn’t going to be my project of ‘potential’ as we often like to do. We often choose people based on potential, not actuality.
It sent my systematic nervous system on overdrive. This guy was the real deal and because my subconscious kept going back into its database to associate him with whatever experiences I had stored in it from my past relationships and experiences, my system would go into an anxiety mode when it couldn’t associate him with any of my old stored patterns. I realized that I was letting myself be defined by how I needed the world to be and that is not what the world actually was.
So I got off the flight-or-fight merry-go-round ride I was stuck on and opened myself to swim with the current of life.
I chose to give the relationship a chance to evolve without trying to force the outcome or the timelines that I originally expected. I stopped resisting things that did not conform to my shoulds. I realized that for everything we encountered in life, there is an alternative reality. I also stopped judging what to me was normal.
After all, what is normal?
Today, a year and a half later, I am grateful that I chose to embrace what life was presenting to me. I am grateful that this relationship isn’t like any other I had before — after all, the others didn’t work so why was I so forceful in wanting this one to be like all the others?
The minute I stopped stressing about not having the exact amount of time with him, the minute I surrendered the need to control and know the how things were going to unfold, that’s the minute I began to experience joy, peace and to really appreciate all the amazing qualities he has that I would not have had the change to experience, had I let my old views prevail.
Something amazing happened. By staying open to the flow of life, staying grateful for the lessons and opportunities being presented, I began to receive ALL the things I had wanted to see and experience in the relationship. The relationship evolved in the most responsible and conscious of ways. Every milestone I had thought I wasn’t going to get, I now have. We travel the world, we laugh, we respect each other’s needs and views, but more importantly, we make a considerable effort to give one another what most matters to the other.
Is the relationship perfect? Of course not. But we don’t waste our precious time arguing about the “shoulds.” We spend the time we have knowing that it’s a gift we are given. None of this would have been possible if I had not accepted life for what it was!
If you continue to resist and push life to conform to your ideal, you will be destined to keep your life living in the realm of 70 percent stress.
What do you think is going to happen if you keep resisting and judge the world through your same thoughts, choices, actions, behaviors, feeling and emotions?
You will get more of the same kinds of experiences that led you to live your life in stress to begin with. Try something different, allow yourself to experiment for a bit by staying fully in the flow of life and see for yourself what happens — you can always go back to your old self, but I suspect that you will not!
So how do you practice non-resistance?
- Make peace with the fact that life will often not turn out the way you want.
- Accept that sometimes things happen at the worst possible times, but it’s ok because the new you won’t let it steal your joy.
- Don’t cry over spilled milk. What has happened has happened. Let it go and don’t waste your health on things that cannot be changed. Focus on what you have learned from it and avoid making the same mistake next time.
- The only thing you can control is how you are going to react to the things that happen to you – you can choose to suffer or you can choose to find the gifts and lessons in them.
- The how, why and when are not up to you. Let the flow of life surprise you!
- Accept that life is as it is. It is neither good or bad, right or wrong. Life isn’t vindictive and it’s not out to get you. Understanding this will really help you get out of the victim mentality. So accept and make the best with what you are being given. I am not saying that this will work each time, but it will help you reduce your suffering.
- When things that you perceive are negative, remind yourself that the situation could always be worse. If you learn to think this way, you will develop the wisdom and strength to live your life from an empowered place.
- All that is for you, will find you. So don’t stress. Enjoy the journey.
The fastest way to getting what you want in life is to not need it. When we view our world from a place of need and lack, our tendency is to want to manipulate and force the outcome. When we don’t need it, we remain open to unknown possibilities that are presented when you learn to accept life for what it is.
This simple, but powerful principle has transformed my life. Does it work each time? No. I sometimes forget to stay in the flow, but as soon as I feel stress or anxious – that’s my cue that I am not in the flow, I am not in the moment and I quickly readjust my views and expectations.
When we remove our expectations for the outcome, we make room for the Universe to do her job. Living with less stress and disappointment is in your hands. Embrace this principle and watch your life transform.