“It isn’t what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it’s what we say to ourselves about what happens.”

~Pema Chodron~

There are many situations that happen to us throughout our entire lives, some events are small, others are big and some even huge. However, most of what happens to us, no matter the significance, is what we remember about it. What we remember about it is usually negative. We often give these negative thoughts about the event far more meaning than they deserve and we often times allow them to control our actions and long-term emotions.

The saying that bad things happen to good people is true! Most people are inherently good and do not want to hurt others deliberately. I’m sure you can think of time that you didn’t want to hurt someone but unintentionally did. For instance, you could have residual feelings of a past break-up or an issue you and a friend had that caused the friendship to end but underneath you feel bad and wish things did not have to end or maybe you are still trying to heal from a bad relationship with a boss? No matter what happened to you, it’s not the actual event that is bothering you, it is what you are feeling about what happened that has control of you. You can either allow yourself to just give in and stay unhappy or you can empower yourself by creating positive self-talk and taking control over your emotions. Only you have the power to heal you!

Let me explain. Recently, I had a situation that really bothered me. I have gone through loss and grief with relationships of all kinds: romantic, family and friends.  I, like you, know all too well how people really can hurt. However, what I have come to realize is that it is not the people who hurt us because they usually do not mean to and we have the power within ourselves to not let people hurt us. In other words, we let the actions of others hurt us, not the people; it is the story of what we tell ourselves about what happened that hurts us more.

Continuing my story, I met up with some friends at a local festival. We had a nice time walking around and by the end of the day we were all thirsty from the heat and tired from walking around but still wanted to hang out. Therefore, we found a local restaurant to get something to drink and relax outside. However, the breeze was a bit strong where we were sitting and the door from the restaurant kept opening and the freezing cold temperature of the air conditioner was obtrusive against my back and it made for a very uncomfortable experience. Needless to say, the air conditioner was not significant enough for me to break-up the good day we were all having. The issue came when one person said, “Are we ordering food?” The rest of us looked at each other and said, “yeah” in agreement as we all felt a little hungry after walking around and we waited for a table so why not? This person was visibly very upset and made their discontent obvious, even if they didn’t mean to. They clearly did not want to stay at the restaurant while the rest of us ate. Generally, someone in that position should have said something prior to waiting for a table and being seated. However, they didn’t. Not really knowing how everyone else was feeling, I just tried to ignore it and not pay attention to the negativity. However, the person continued antagonizing and commenting on the food that people were discussing ordering, making it known they could not eat anything at that restaurant and were also starving. In other words, they wanted to eat as well but could not eat any of the food at the restaurant and did not want to wait on the rest of us. Let me just stop here for a moment…. How would this incident make you feel? I’m sure the other person feels justified in their mind they did what they felt was right and maybe did not realize how uncomfortable they were making me feel, as I cannot speak for anyone else. Additionally, they probably also did not consider how their actions could affect everyone at the table. There are always options and choices. They did not have to sit there and eat; they could have politely declined and left or said no from the beginning. Likewise, I could have chosen to not let their issue affect me. In a perfect world this would have avoided the entire situation.

Needless to say, I cannot speak on their behalf, but their actions left me feeling anxious and extremely uncomfortable that I could not even concentrate on looking over the menu, let alone, eat myself. I offered select menu items as suggestions but their aggressive remarks about eating there was not well received and in turn made me feel like I was being intrusive on them.  Looking back, this person had the issue but was making me feel like the rest of us were being inconsiderate of them.  Regardless if that’s what the person meant or not, it is how I was left feeling. As uncomfortable as I was and even more at what I was about to do, I felt I had no choice. Given my feelings, I made the decision to stand up and say, I changed my mind about eating and I chose to leave.

I also chose to not feel bad that everyone else decided to get up and leave because I did. They could have continued to stay or not, it was their choice. I chose to not sit there and take the uncomfortable way I was feeling any longer. The point here is that despite what the other person’s reality is, I should have not let it affect me. It is my own feelings and realities that make what happened have validity.

Looking at this example, it is always important to look at what happens to us in a positive light, despite the bad that always happens. There is always positive in everything even if we cannot see it at the time. Always be kind to yourself and do not let the negative in life simmer and boil over in your suffering and emotions. We have to live in a world surrounded with negativity but suffering is optional. Despite the bad that happens to us, we can still choose to be positive and kind to ourselves. Needless to say, this incident has taught me a lot. I am also learning to reconsider what I am telling myself about what happened and not choosing to suffer any longer.

What do you tell yourself after a bad incident? What are you suffering from?



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