I saw a post on Facebook today that said ‘Take nothing personally.’
I disagree and think the opposite is true. ‘Everything is personal.’ Everything that happens to you affects you in some way… either good or bad. Sometimes the impact is so small that you don’t notice; sometimes multiple small things have a much larger compound affect. A huge change can knock you for six for months. The negative attitude of another person towards you can affect your whole day. We are a collection of emotions, experiences, and responses to stimuli. The sooner we accept that and spend time processing our experiences and coming to terms with them every day, the faster we reach consistent inner peace.
Having just watched Kung Fu Panda 2 where the panda is told that by attaining inner peace he will defeat his enemy through being completely in the moment, inner peace is in the forefront of my mind. I now realise at the grand, old age of 47 years, that inner peace is not the absence of stress. Inner peace is being able to regain a sense of calm quickly, whatever happens to you. Inner peace does not just happen, and it certainly won’t happen if you box difficult emotions and push them away. It comes from processing what has happened, understanding the emotional and practical impact of that event, and putting it in perspective. We then absorb lessons from the experience and change our future response. The most important thing is to acknowledge your response, and that your response at the time is affected by your knowledge and experience up until that date. It was not the wrong response, just based on what you knew at the time.
In Buddhism, one recommended and repeated mantra is that “Nothing is permanent.” It’s a very helpful motto, especially under stress, and can balance loss or the temporary nature of happiness. Kipling recognises this phenomenon when he writes:
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same.”
Both acknowledge that sometimes life is good, sometimes bad, but either way change is inevitable. After moving through a few difficult situations recently, I have also been reflecting on a poem which purports:
“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”
There are many ways of coming to terms with things. I recommend reflecting on events daily, and having a consistent practice for this. I hastened my recovery from mental health issues using precisely this principle. I rigorously look at events, relationships and perceived failures, every day. I can then absorb them into my new modus operandi. It really works. I often use meditation and yoga to reach this point of closure, though they are not always convenient due to the time required. Walking helps too, especially close to flowing water. Even closing your eyes for a few minutes and turning things over in your mind helps…
I do one or all of these things, before talking the event over with anyone else; as a result I rarely need to discuss it with anyone else at all. Sometimes consulting others confuses me as it affects what I think and makes me question my own feelings. Other times I have to talk it over to really understand what I think deep down and why. My advice, just take the path that’s useful on the day!
Keeping yourself in balance is an investment and it does make life easier. I promise!
Love Ruth x