Buddha Groove’s Guru Series brings insight from experts across the fields of mindfulness, natural wellness, yoga, and meditation. Below we have wisdom from life coach and writer, Amaya Pryce.
Grant me courage to change what can be changed, serenity to accept what cannot be changed, and wisdom to know the difference. ~ The Serenity Prayer
For most of my life, I’ve been focused on what’s wrong, what’s missing, what needs to be changed or fixed before I can be happy. The core of this feeling is internal resistance to what is, and it’s a very common life theme.
As children, many of us – probably all of us, in reality – didn’t always get our needs met. And, as children, we were relatively powerless to change the situation, which led to feelings of anxiety and frustration.
We had no choice but to look “out there” and hope that things would change so that we could feel okay. For some of us, this evolved as we grew older into a need to try to control and manage our lives and the people around us.
We kept our focus outward, always vigilant for what was wrong, or what could go wrong. This life orientation is exhausting and futile, and it robs us of joy. There is simply no way to keep the house of cards standing for more than a few minutes at a time. We can’t control other people, and we can’t control events.
After fifty years, I finally understood that there was another way to look at life. What if nothing is wrong?
By this, I don’t mean that bad, sad, or even horrible things don’t happen, that you shouldn’t feel your honest feelings, or that you shouldn’t take whatever actions are available to you to change a negative situation you might be in.
What I mean is: What if what’s happening is not a mistake? What if there’s a deep and powerfully loving purpose behind every detail of your life? What if nothing is random?
Some people find this concept horrifying. Even if you don’t believe in a traditional God, the idea of a loving purpose seems at odds with all the terrible things that happen in this world.
It’s one of the oldest cries of the human heart: Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people?
To some, it’s easier to ascribe the blame (if there is blame) to blind luck or fate. The world is simply random – “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
To me, that’s an even more horrifying concept. When I was around twenty, a young man I was becoming involved with died in a car crash late at night. He had stopped by my house earlier in the evening, but I wasn’t home that night. What if I had been? Would he still be alive? Would we be married? Did my whole life change because I happened to go out one night instead of the other?
I couldn’t accept that. Looking back, this was the incident that really set me on my spiritual path. I began to believe in reincarnation and the growth of the soul as the guiding principle of life.
I believe that there is a purpose behind every situation you find yourself in, every person you meet, everything that happens to you. There is a great, intricate dance going on all the time – a dance that changes constantly, with the free will choices that every soul makes from moment to moment.
Where you are in the dance right now is exactly where you’re supposed to be. You couldn’t possibly be in the wrong place.
One of the tools that has helped me the most in my life is the Work of Byron Katie – a simple method of questioning our own thoughts. Every thought we have is a story we are telling ourselves.
My life theme of “something is wrong” was just a story. Here are some related stories: “I’m not going to get what I need.” “Something or someone else would be better.” “If only thiswould happen, I’d be happy.” “If only thathadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be sad or upset.”
The list goes on and on. All just stories. As Katie would say: “Can I really know that this is true? How do I react when I believe that there is something better than this?”
Well, I can answer that question! I feel anxious. I obsess about the situation, trying to figure out how I can change it. I blame other people for it. I envy the people who seem to have it better than me. Because I’m focused on what seems to be wrong, I’m blind to all the things that are right in my life.
Who would I be without that story? That’s where we’re going right now. What if you really and truly got it, once and for all, in your felt experience as well as in your head:
Nothing is a mistake. Nothing is random. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be in this moment, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do.
And in the next moment, you might choose to do something entirely different, but that is the future. You’ll find out when you get to it.
Right now, in this moment, are you okay? What happens when you stop resisting and simply inhabit this moment, this reality, right here and right now?
This is it. Sink into it.
Sometimes, for a different perspective, I like to narrate my life as if it were a movie: Woman, sitting up in bed, writing. I look around my room as if it were a carefully chosen movie set, seeking clues about the life that is lived there. We love movies about courageous heroes who overcome difficulties, but we don’t want to live in those movies ourselves!
The lives we’d script for ourselves would in actuality be incredibly boring, as any screenwriter would tell you. Without challenges or difficulties there is no story, no growth, no happy outcome (leading to the next cycle of challenge and growth).
I believe that the challenges we face right now were expressly, thoughtfully, and purposely chosen for us, for our highest good and growth. Whether they were chosen by God, guardian angels, or your own “Higher Self” doesn’t matter.
What matters is that we stop regarding them as mistakes and simply embrace them as the plot devices they are. What would the courageous hero do now?
Of course, this analogy can be taken to hurtful extremes. I’m not implying that you simply shrug off the soul searing days and nights – and sometimes years – of pain and effort that your challenges may require with a soft-focus montage set to feel-good music.
That would be spiritual bypass. Some challenges can be largely overcome with a change of attitude, while others require a lifetime of work. But neither kind is made easier by the story that it is a mistake that shouldn’t be happening. It is happening, whether or not you think that it should.
If you can see it as purposeful – even when the purpose remains obscure – you save yourself from the added suffering that comes from internally resisting what is, in fact, happening.
Pull the focus way, way out and see the larger picture of your soul’s path through this and other lifetimes. Drop the internal resistance, and you’ll have much more energy and creativity to bring to your situation, and much more peace, acceptance and even joy in embracing your current reality.