I was chatting with my youngest son this morning and he was complaining about how annoying his brother was. I said “Of course he is, brothers are supposed to be annoying.” He looked at me a little skeptically. I reminded him I have four brothers, so obviously I know what I’m talking about.
I then asked him which of my brothers he thought was the most annoying when we were growing up. He had so much fun thinking about his uncles as younger brothers annoying their older sister and each other.
See, there is one part of the complaint that was left unsaid. My brother is annoying… AND HE SHOULDN’T BE. That’s the part where he’s making this a problem for himself. As we played with the idea that brothers are supposed to be annoying, he stopped resisting it. And almost immediately, the fact that his brother was annoying just wasn’t a big deal anymore.
I have a vivid memory of something similar from over 20 years ago. This was in the early years of my autoimmune disease. I felt awful all the time. Getting through the day was rough. And on top of that, it seemed like everything in my life was going wrong. I was talking on the phone, and crying, and I said “Life isn’t supposed to be this hard.”
In hindsight, I can see that’s why that period of my life was so incredibly hard. Because I thought it should be different. I didn’t think I should have to feel so awful all the time. I didn’t think everything should be going the way it was. I thought something had gone terribly wrong. And that thought made it 1000 times worse.
What if everything in your past happened exactly the way it was supposed to happen?
What if everything happening in your life right now is happening exactly the way it’s supposed to happen?
What if your spouse was supposed to cheat on you?
What if you were supposed to get divorced?
What if you’re not supposed to have your kids 100% of the time?
What if your mother is supposed to disapprove of all your choices?
What if your child is supposed to do drugs?
What if your spouse is supposed to have a porn addiction?
What if you’re supposed to have a job you don’t love?
What if you’re supposed to have that medical diagnosis?
What if your house is supposed to be messy?
As Byron Katie says “When you argue with reality you lose — but only 100% of the time.” When we resist what is, we cause ourselves so much unnecessary pain.
Let me show you what I mean. My son had two layers of “annoyed.” The first layer was because his brother did something that he thought was annoying. This was a short-term annoyed. It was in the moment.
The second layer was when he decided to be annoyed that his brother was annoying. This second layer is the resisting of reality. This layer can last indefinitely. My son was complaining about his brother and feeling annoyed long after his brother had done the thing that he thought was annoying.
Now let’s look at divorce. I wanted to feel grief over my divorce. I wanted to mourn the loss of the future I thought I would have. I wanted to grieve for my children. I felt all those emotions, I processed them all the way through, and then it was done. I was able to move forward because I processed that first layer of emotions without adding any resistance.
So many of my clients have added the second layer. They don’t think it should have happened. And they feel these emotions for years. They never get over their divorce because they are arguing with reality. They feel grief all the time. They feel angry all the time.
I’m not saying you have to think all the horrible things in your life are ok. But the reality is, they happened. Arguing with it, resisting it, thinking it should be different… the ONLY thing that does is cause you pain.
Feel your emotions. Process them all the way through. And then let it go. I promise as you practice this, you’ll start to feel relief. You’ve heard me teach that life is 50/50. 50% positive, 50% negative. During that hard time of my life it felt like 100% negative. There are two reasons for that.
- I was focused on the negative. Our brain finds what we tell it to look for. If I had told my brain to find all the amazing things in my life, it would have. And it wouldn’t have felt like 100% negative.
- I added so much negative by being negative about the negative. I added so many layers of negative emotion on top of the first layer.
My son will still have moments when he feels annoyance towards his brother. But hopefully, he will remind himself “brothers are supposed to be annoying” and they will just be moments, rather than hours, days, weeks, months or years.
Where in your life are you adding those additional layers? Where are you resisting reality?
If you want some help working through this and learning how to do it, PLEASE set up a free mini session with me. You can absolutely feel better if you want to.