“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius
It is a common perception that there are only two ways to feel about something, either you like it or you dislike it. I have learned over the years that there is a third option. One through which we can dramatically decrease the stress in our lives and experience happiness far more often, even in difficult times.
My ability to practice the third option has been tested recently as I experienced the exit of several important people from my life. Some were personal, some professional, a few by my choice, the rest by theirs.
In each case my brain began chattering about all the reasons why it was either a good thing or a bad thing that they wouldn’t be in my life anymore. The more I created reasons why it was a bad thing and why I had every reason to dislike it, the more I upset myself. Vacillating between grief, anger, sadness and resentment.
Then I realized that this particular conversation between me, myself and I was only serving to upset me and leave me feeling like a victim. So what could I do?
If only allowing myself the choice between like and dislike I need to have a conversation about and some sort of emotional and psychological attachment to the event. Granted there are plenty where I want to have this kind of attachment such as where friends and family are concerned. When I’m more attached I am more likely to act to nurture and protect them.
But this is a time when relationships are ending and its important for me to be able to let go. So how do I do this?
By realizing that I could like it, dislike it or feel other about it. Huh?
Feeling other means that I can decide to look at the facts of the situation and choose not to get caught up in the chattering of my brain as it creates options from the like or dislike categories. It’ll do it of course, that’s its nature. But when it does I simply notice it and say to myself, “These are the facts whether I like them or not. So I will allow them to be as they are without feeling the need to tell myself a story about them.”
You see, frustration is self-imposed. We generate it between our own two ears but only by having the one sided conversation that creates it.
Solution, opt out of the conversation. Is this easy, NO. Is it powerful, YES.
I was up most of last night processing a few of these loses as they have a significant impact on me. But there was a moment when I was able to feel other, just for a moment, and I smiled. I smiled because for that moment the frustration and fear vanished and was replaced by calm. So I spent more time with that feeling until it grew. Now I am feeling far more other about things today.
There’s another word you can sometimes use for other, that word is acceptance.
It doesn’t mean you’re okay with it, it simply means you realize its none of your business to change it. Therefore, there is no purpose in choosing sides where it is concerned.
Like those who get upset over the weather or the outcome of a sporting event. So much emotional energy put toward an event that doesn’t require your permission to occur. So why act as though having an opinion about it will make a difference.
The reality is that the only difference it will make is whether you feel happy or not.
I want to finish this by thanking those who chose to leave my life. By doing so you have aided in my practice of acceptance. You have provided an opportunity for me to rediscover the experience of other, and just how liberating it can be to simply mind my own business when life presents me with the things I cannot change. Things that will not prevent me from being just dandy in this life without you.
Thanks for being you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian R. King LCSW is a Relationship Breakthrough Specialist. His breakthrough strategies draw on his experience as a 24 year cancer survivor, adult with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, A.D.D., the father of three sons on the autism spectrum as well as someone who lives on the autism spectrum himself. His books and seminars have garnered him worldwide attention for his innovative communication and relationship strategies.