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There are people, situations, and places that can undoubtedly discriminate against us, causing us to suffer. However, is it always the case? Do we always have to let situations dictate our happiness? In reality, the meaning we give to a situation is what ultimately causes us to suffer, not the situation itself. As the famous quote goes, “We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It’s up to us to make it good or bad.” Let’s explore this concept further and see how we can take control of our lives and create our own happiness no matter what happens around us!
“I can’t control my future because my past has already determined who I am going to be.”
Our past experiences can influence our present mindset, but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck in that mindset forever. We have the power to choose our thoughts, actions, and reactions, and ultimately shape our future. The famous philosopher Epictetus once said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” For example, if you had a traumatic experience in the past, it may be challenging to move forward. But if you take small steps each day towards healing, seeking therapy or counselling, and building a support system, you can change the narrative and create a better future for yourself. Interestingly, according to Alderian psychology, trauma doesn’t even exist, it only exists in our heads! I personally find it really encouraging.
“I am suffering because of what others did.”
Blaming others for our problems is a common coping mechanism, but it ultimately leads to a victim mentality. As the motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.” For instance, if you’re unhappy in your job, it’s easy to blame your boss or coworkers (maybe it’s true). But instead, think about your priorities, take ownership of the situation, and start looking for other opportunities, upgrading your skills, having an honest conversation with your manager, or just escape from your place if nothing works. What it all takes is courage! The only reason for your current situation is the priorities you have made in your past knowingly or unknowingly. I know it’s hard to digest and accept because our brain finds it easy to blame others because changing ourselves is hardwork, and we are wired to opt a coping mechanism that requires less brain power. But it sucks your life eventually!
“They have a better life than me. They are be so lucky.”
Comparing ourselves to others is a common trap that leads to envy, jealousy, and a sense of inadequacy. The reality is that everyone has their own struggles and problems, and comparing ourselves to others only creates unrealistic expectations. It’s okay to do things at your own pace; competition and comparison will only make you more suffer. As the writer Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” For example, if you’re comparing your career to someone else’s, remember that they likely had to work hard for a sustained period, face setbacks and failures, and overcome their own challenges to get where they are today. Luck favours genuine hardwork. It’s not fair to say that Bill Gates became who he is today just by mere luck and coincidence. While he may attribute some of his success to luck, it is ultimately his brilliance and hard work that have been the determining factors.
“You don’t know my suffering”
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our suffering is unique and unparalleled, and that nobody else can possibly understand what we are going through. We often say “You cannot understand the depth of my suffering unless you have experienced my exact situation.” But the truth is, everyone experiences pain and difficulty in their own way. Considering the billions of people on this planet, you are not the only person who is going through similar feelings, remember that your feeling is a shared feeling. There are always people who suffer more and suffer less than you, and it will be always like this. What matters is how we choose to respond to our pain and suffering. Instead of getting lost in our own suffering, we can seek out ways to connect with others and find support in our community.
“My problems will go away automatically.”
Suppressing or ignoring our feelings of frustration or discomfort can be a tempting way to avoid dealing with them, but it only makes things worse in the long run. Instead, we should acknowledge our feelings and take steps to address them in a healthy way. This might mean seeking out a therapist or counselor, practicing mindfulness and meditation, or engaging in a hobby or activity that brings us joy. As American psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
Conclusion: While it is true that there are situations and circumstances that are outside of our control, we ultimately have the power to choose how we respond to them. By shifting our perspective and taking responsibility for our own thoughts and emotions, we can cultivate greater resilience, peace, and happiness in our lives. For instance, a simple technique to drastically change your life is not to intentionally remember what happened in the past. People who continue to focus on the past are intentionally re-living a situation that you never wanted to experience in the first place – you’ve already lived it, so why would you want to keep living it over and over again in your mind? The fact is, by simply not entertaining the past events you can drastically make your life happier.
American author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”