This or That

Life is seldom this or that. It’s really all of it. In twenty-five years of counseling, I have never met an all bad person, nor have I ever met an all good one.  One person’s story or perspective is never all right and the other person’s is never all wrong.  The bad guys we vilify in the news are never really all bad and the good guys are really never all good.  We should lose the words good and bad because they require a judgment from someone about someone or something. As Shakespeare says, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Everything just is.

There is a great deal of difference between judgment and discernment. We might discern that someone or some activity is not in our best interest, however, if we are simply discerning, we make that decision, without judging the person or the activity. We might even wish that person or thing could be different, but we don’t make a judgment about the situation or the person’s value. Peace of mind comes from accepting things as they are. The foundation of all our unhappiness is a lack of acceptance.

Our boyfriend breaks up with us and the agony begins because we want it to be different. Actually, the longer we hold on, the more we are saying, I am willing to be with someone who doesn’t want and love me. We lose our house and we agonize over it feeling like a failure, never thinking the next one might be better. Someone dies and we hold on refusing to let life in because we cannot accept the loss, which is a natural part of life and being human. I am not implying we shouldn’t have feelings about these challenges in life. We will have big feelings because we are human and capable of feeling everything. However, at some point in order to live life fully we have to get to a place of acceptance. Life is not out to get us, life simply happens. Things come and go and so do we. What might change if you considered it all good?

The people who have empowered lives, filled with meaning, are the ones who get up everyday feeling that they love their lives and every challenge that life gives them. After all, aren’t those challenges the way we push our souls forward and hone our character? How else could we become who we came here to be? Thomas Edison said of things that didn’t go right, “I have not failed. I’ve just found ways that won’t work.” Edison had no concept of failure; only opportunities to discover what didn’t work.

The deeper lesson is to accept all things with a sense of reverence. A master stands, arms outstretched, in the middle of this and that and is attached to or attracted to neither. He or she simply says, ”Ah so, here is this, or here is that.” A master understands that life is filled with all of it. We have trouble and we have compassion and consolation. We have abundance and we have emptiness and loss. We have cold and heat, times up and times down and to remain in the flow and aliveness of life we must be willing accept all of it.

Ellen Bass, one of the authors of the Courage to Heal says, “…to love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you’ve held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it. When grief sits with you,

Its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, how can a body withstand this? Then you hold life like a face between

your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you, I will love you, again.”

Don’t miss it. Be your own best friend. Let yourself feel all of it, Cling to nothing. Embrace everything including every fear and feeling. Society will teach you to fear your feelings because they can kill you. In more than twenty-five years, I have never lost a client or seminar guest, family member, child or friend to a feeling. It does not happen. You will never leave the planet due to having a feeling, but you may leave wishing you had felt more of them with acceptance.


Dr Dina Evan

© Dr Dina Evan 2013

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