How do you typically react when something happens that you do not like?
- Do you blame and judge yourself or others?
- Do you go into high drama storytelling about what happened?
- Do you feel victimized?
These typical reaction patterns are unhealthy and unproductive. They assume that how you feel is the result of what has happened, which leaves you powerless. It’s really the other way around. Having unpleasant and undesirable experiences is a normal part of life.
How we react to outer events is simply a reflection of our pre-existing state-of-mind.
As shown below, when we have a new experience, our reaction is a fait accompli based on what is on our Attitude Filter. New input is processed through our accumulated state of mind, which quite predictably yields certain thoughts, feelings, and behaviors – our way of being in the world.
*Your Attitude Filter consists of your conditioning, beliefs, assumptions, expectations, prejudices, preferences, memories, judgments, illusions, delusions, fears, hopes, and dreams.
No two people will process an event in quite the same way. For example, if my friend, Jenny, saw a spider on the wall on the 45th floor of a building, she would carefully capture it, take the elevator to the lobby and release it outside. That’s not what I would do!
Realizing that our reactions come from the inside-out, we are empowered to work with them in a way that they work better for us. Here’s another example: I’m going to have a root canal today. I’m not happy about this. It’s not something I would choose, but here it is. I have been training myself for a long time to respond to what I don’t like by accepting that it is so. This doesn’t mean resignation or liking what is happening. Rather, it allows me to bypass the high drama and victimization that I was prone to in the past. Acceptance looks like this: First I acknowledge that while I hate this, it’s not optional. It is happening. Rather than throwing a hissy fit, I move into identifying my concerns—pain and money—and figuring out my best options for minimizing them. This allows me to go through this experience with as little distress as possible and to see myself as someone who is capable of moving through undesirable experiences without losing my sense of well-being.
If your perspective is causing you suffering and you would like to suffer less:
- change what’s on your Attitude Filter
- accept reality whether you like it or not—stop trying to make yourself feel better by making reality wrong.
By building tolerance for the full range of human experiences, we become masterful in living our lives rather than playing the victim to its trials and tribulations.
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