Nov 13, 2020

Dealing with unexpected situations

A few days back, I stumbled upon a speech by Tamil Actor Satyaraj. It was just a small clip, a few seconds from his speech. Wish I could get hold of the entire speech.

I'm translating what he spoke in Tamil

"In life, if we want to be happy, we have to stop doing two things

(1) Stop worrying about what other people think of you

(2) Stop trying to change how other people should behave"

This was such a powerful statement. As I pondered over it, I realized that I have reduced the first thought pattern to a large extent over the years, which has brought in a lot of peace.

But I also realized that I get caught in the second thought pattern more often. Not just that, but I try to take it even further - Trying to change not just how people should behave but also change the different situations I encounter. Yeah, wishful thinking!

Life throws unexpected situations at us. They can neither be predicted nor be molded in a way we want them to unfold. Complete acceptance is the solution I hear from many. But I find it hard to reach that level of complete acceptance and surrender to the situation. I see myself resisting a lot when the situation is unfavorable to me.

Ever since I became aware of this nature of mine, instead of pushing myself hard to accept the situation, I have started to follow this 3-step process.

(1) I ask myself this question - "Can I do anything to change the situation?"

More often than not, the response is NO.

(2) I pick up my journal or open Evernote and journal about the situation on the following lines:

  • Why am I feeling uncomfortable about this situation?
  • How would this situation affect me?
  • Are there any positives that this situation can bring in?
  • What are the possible negative outcomes I'm foreseeing?
  • How can I address these? Are there any workarounds I can figure out?

(3) I reflect on my priorities and realign my schedule to accommodate the new situation but at the same time, not give up on what I needed to do for my happiness and peace.

From my experience, the key learning in the past few months is this - Acceptance and surrender might be the destination - a state of utmost peace, but for people in the journey, trying to practice complete acceptance without clear thinking and planning will only lead to more frustrations and helplessness.

The situation we encounter might be out of our control, but how we deal with it in an empowered way requires a good deal of planning and reflection.

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