The only thing that can control your mind is you.
Think about that sentence for a minute. Close your eyes and say it again. The only thing…that can control your mind…is you.
That’s a powerful truth, isn’t it? But with that power comes a bit of fear. You don’t have the luxury of blaming your bad day on events in your life or on other people. It’s only you and your perception of these events and/or people that are causing you trouble.
Let me give you an example. Your car breaks down on the side of the road. You are late for an appointment. Now you have to call AAA, figure out how to get your car to a repair shop and you to your appointment. You are frustrated, angry, annoyed. You call your boss frantically. You try to explain that you know he/she is mad, but you can’t get there on time. You feel guilty. Think of the feelings you would have. Think of how worked up you would be. You are having a bad morning.
Now take that same scenario and choose not to be any of those things. Your car broke down. Okay. Good thing you had AAA. You are happy you found a mechanic to fix your car. You call your boss and calmly explain your situation. Whether he/she is mad is of no concern, as there was nothing that you could have done to prevent your lateness that morning. You apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused and move on. In the grand scheme of things, this is just a morning with a few extra things to handle. Even just reading the words of handling the situation appropriately, doesn’t it FEEL nicer?
Of course none of these events are ideal; however, you are allowing your perception of them to affect your emotions. If you take the situations as they come, you deal with each one singly with grace, calmness, humility, and indifference, they hold much less power. We cannot control many of the events that unfold during our day, just as we cannot control the people around us. Surrendering this control allows us to better handle our reactions.
Controlling how we see the world takes a lot of practice. It does not happen overnight and it’s something that you will need to practice every day for the rest of your life. Things will get us out of whack sometimes and we need to just return to that place where we surrender external control in order to take internal control.
I control the way I react to this and I choose to be at peace.
Another example is the ending of a marriage. It would have been very easy for my ex and I to both harbor resentment, anger, and bitterness, as neither of us acted 100% perfectly in our marriage. It would be easy to feel like a failure, to feel guilty and betrayed. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments where I felt all these things and I am sure he did too. However, we both chose not to dwell in those moments. We controlled the way we thought, felt, and acted. I chose to see our marriage ending as, not an end of anything, but a morphing into a different type of relationship and circumstance. I saw it as a chance to co-parent as friends who still supported each other through life’s up and downs. I focused on the two beautiful children we made together and the many years we spent growing up together. The rest didn’t matter. We didn’t have the same relationship, so the things that transpired during it that weren’t ideal were simply let go…they no longer held any weight in the relationship that we had now. Let it go. Don’t let it have control over you.
The best thing about having this view is that our children saw how to handle one of life’s most difficult situations with grace, love, understanding, and mutual support. Staying true to ourselves and our commitment to happiness in life, we could teach our children the importance of this virtue in their lives. Let yourself be a teacher. Handle each moment, especially the most difficult ones with calmness and good nature. As the Chinese culture points out, the bamboo is strong because it’s so flexible. Bend with the winds that are being blown at you and you will remain strong. Be rigid or try to fight to hard and you will break.