“Everything good that happens to you in life happens because of the way you behave. Everything great that happens to you in life happens because of the way you behave when things aren’t fair.” – Andy Andrews
“Acceptance is the key to happiness.” – Art of Living Foundation
We go through life with desires and expectations about how we want the world to be. Sometimes things go our way, and sometimes they don’t. Eastern philosophy teaches us that suffering results from attachment to our desires. Since we can’t control the world, the guru reminds us, instead learn to control our response to the world. I’ve been having this lesson hammered into me this week, both from my coaches and from my real teachers, people and circumstances in my life.
I met a woman recently at a local community gathering who made a really strong impression on me. She was smart, funny, and beautiful; she cared deeply about social justice; and we seemed to have a lot of common interests. We spent the entire afternoon together, and parted ways with an agreement to see each other again the following weekend. So the stage is set for my desires and expectations about how the world should be.
My romance coach, Erwan Davon, says that trust is fundamentally important to our relationships with others, ourselves, and life in general. When talking about trust in life, or trust in the universe, I interpret it as something akin to faith: that everything is all right, that everything is going to be all right, and that there is no need to worry. Many of us have an underdeveloped sense of trust in life, and when something happens that rubs us the wrong way, we recoil from it. We reject it and judge it as “bad,” as something that “shouldn’t be.” Then we react. Each person’s mode of reaction to a triggering event is influenced by their personality type. In my case, I was brought up to believe that if at first you don’t succeed, try again, and try harder.
For whatever reason (and for a cerebral person like me, trying to figure out the reason can be a real trap and waste of energy), the woman I met never answered any of my calls, and when she replied to my texts, she did not answer my questions about our plans for the upcoming weekend. For me, this was a triggering event, an instance in which things weren’t fair. I had a fear response, which I judged to be bad, and my personality type kicked in. If she didn’t reply to my text, I called. When she didn’t answer, I tried it all over again the next day. My yoga teacher, Kevin Snorf, calls this clinging to the rope of life, which only results in rope burn.
So what’s the solution? Erwan and Kevin agree: first off, the Warrior does not reject her fear response. Instead, he says “yes” to what is. Someone doesn’t call you back? Say yes to it. It is what is. Fear, doubt, and worry come up in response? Say yes to them, and feel them, and know that they are only emotions. They are not you, but they’ll live in you a lot longer if you try to repress them. Then inquire into them. Where is this fear coming from? What am I really afraid of and why? When you start to see that your fears have been with you for most of your life, and that you’re reacting today to things that happened years and years ago, you can start to experiment with a different way of doing things. You can start by letting go of the rope and having faith that there will be a soft landing.