We all have a tendency to worry about things. Many of these are things we can’t really change – like wishing things in the past didn’t happen or turned out differently.
Worrying about these things is like picking at a wound – the wound never heals and just ends up getting more and more infected – we might have an urge to pick it – but it is not really in our best interests.
A healing journey involves figuring out what really works for you and what doesn’t and then having the courage to persevere with what is really in your best interests. The biggest hurdle however is to let go of those preoccupations which are holding you back from the journey.
This journey to healing involves three important steps.
Step 1: Skills to accept those things that bother you but you can’t change.
Step 2: Making changes where required so that you can live a happier and more fulfilling life.
Step 3: Developing an understanding of how the various processes work so that you know whether what you are dealing with is something you can change or whether it is something you can’t change – that is the key question – it determines what skills you bring into play.
So there are three essential skills, as you apply them you will find yourself automatically going to the first question – is this something I can change or can’t change?
This is the most important skill and it could be described as wisdom or insight. It allows you to categorise events as requiring acceptance or active change strategies.
“Acceptance” might sound easy but it is an art and one that is hard won. It is the ability to “let go”, in this moment, and in the next moment, and in the next.
Habitual patterns of our mind often make it hard for us to even acknowledge what it is we are dealing with.
Acknowledgement is the first step, followed by investigation and then we look at it without clinging on to it and obsessively picking at it. The courage to change essentially involves the ability to put up with pain to overcome habitual patters so that you can engage in behaviours that you have decided will be productive for you and to stop engaging in behaviours (or indulging in thoughts) that you know will lead to more pain.
The key is to be able to put up with a bit of short term pain for a meaningful long term gain. Of course to do this you need to have a clear idea of what is, and what is not, in your long term interests.
For this you need to continually review your values, look into your heart and see whether what you are doing and how you are feeling really fits into how you want things to be – questions like “Am I becoming the person I want to be?” can be useful here.
Once you have a clear compass of which direction you want to go in you still need to be tough enough to tolerate short term pains. A key thing to remember here is not to be too influenced by transitory experiences of pleasure and pain. One can do something very meaningful, noble and satisfying without enjoying the experience.
You’re wise to the extent that you can:
do what you don’t like doing but that you know will result in happiness,
and not do what you like doing but that you know will result in pain and harm.