Have I figured it out?

Enjoying the viewA few evenings ago, a dear friend of mine called me as she was driving home, distraught and very angry about her work.  She opened the conversation with “I had to call someone who can calm me down, so I called you.  I’m so angry and I don’t know how to stop it. You seemed to have figured it out.”

I took that as a high compliment. By ‘figured it out’, I believe she meant that I have found a way to have calm, peace and joy in my life, and I know how to stop things from bothering me.  I seldom get angry about other people, or things that happen in the workplace.  But, have I indeed figured it out?  Have I reached some kind of nirvana or enlightenment?  I wouldn’t say ‘Yes’ by any stretch of the imagination, but I can say that I do feel a fairly steady sense of calm in my life, and apparently it shows as I hear this feedback often.

Here’s something I’ve heard from many people over the years “I know I shouldn’t be feeling x, but I just can’t help it.”  Replace X with things like:  anger because your employer doesn’t give you the respect you deserve, sick because your sister always says things that get under your skin, resentment because you are have to care for an aging parent and that makes you feel guilty because you are resentful… the reasons go on and on.  Why can’t the world just cooperate with me?!!!?

I have learned to experienced life differently.  It started by becoming very aware of how I am reacting and experiencing aggravating situations.  Then I would ask myself things like:  What causes this aggravation?  Is it my ego?  Is it my need to be right?  Who’s to say what’s right and wrong, anyway – isn’t that a matter of opinion?

These are not light questions. It is truly challenging to describe this practice of thought in a blog post.  But when I did take a step back from a situation to observe myself (not the other person or the situation), I was able to make a conscious decision as to the type of experience I wanted to have.

If you just can’t ‘shake off’ the negative feeling, I believe you either haven’t committed 100% to making the change within yourself OR you simply need the skills to help you change.  Just knowing intellectually that you should change often isn’t enough.

There are many wonderful skills out there to learn. I would say that A New Earth bookfor me, learning meditation, mindfulness, Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’ and some Buddhist teachings have helped me greatly.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just fall over and allow people to take advantage of my calm nature. I still make the effort to right a wrong and speak my thoughts, BUT, I only do this to an extent that it matters – I don’t do it to appease my ego.  When it becomes about my ego, I stop.

Here is a previous post about dealing with an irritating person.

I hope this is helpful to someone out there,


10 thoughts on “Have I figured it out?

    • Hi CharmedYogi – I know! Eckhart was one of the key influencers for me. I enjoy how he can explain things in such a humble, interesting and real-to-life way.
      Have a lovely day,

  1. Oh yes, I’m definitely a work in progress. When I look at the big picture, there is progress. Moment by moment – not always so much. And yes, it does help to hear how meditation has helped you to become more at peace and happier. Thanks, Wendy!

    • Hi Kim, good point, looking at the big picture and realizing that all the ‘work’ we are doing on ourselves is probably making quite a difference in our lives. When I compare myself from now to before the cancer, I think ‘wow’ I have come a long way. Life is so much more meaningful now.
      thanks for your comment Kim – always a pleasure :o)

      • An interesting thing happened to me with regard to the book An New Earth. For some reason I went to the book store on a Friday afternoon and picked it up, among others, and I finished it that weekend. On the following Monday, my specialist called to say they had found cancer. I handled it all pretty calmly and I attribute this to my weekend read. I’ll always remember the synchronicity in that , and how it helped me so much.

      • Hi Kim, wow. What a story. What a synchronicity for sure. It helped prepare you for what you needed. That is so amazing. By listening to your story, you reminded me of something too – I was reading Ken Wilber’s ‘Grace and Grit’ – it was a book written by his deceased wife, journaling how they met, fell in love, got married and then she got cancer. They struggled for a few years with recurrence but it explained how she went through her journey with grace – I remember now, that I could not finish the book. It scared me to finish it. Then shortly after that, I got my diagnosis. Not exactly the same kind of story as yours, as I don’t think it prepared me for my diagnosis though.

        I read A New Earth well before my diagnosis and I think it prepared me too. Meditation certainly got me through it all in a big way.

        Thanks for sharing, Kim. Love and light to you,

  2. I think there is a tremendous value in Tolle’s teachings, and distancing yourself from things and being in moment, but there is also something to be said for being in a crappy situation and saying, “I deserve better than this”, or “life is too short wasting it on doing something that makes me miserable” and changing it.

    This reminds me of the joke in which a patient goes to see a doctor and says, “It hurts whenever I do this.” and the doctor says, “well then, don’t do that.” If you are in a situation that is making you miserable, like a terrible job or relationship, and you have done everything you can to change things and you realize that things will never change, then its your responsibility to get a new job or a new relationship and move on. At a certain point, I think you have to stop trying to change yourself to deal with the situation (deep breathing, meditation, etc.) and fundamentally change the situation itself.

    An extreme example of this would be someone who is in a relationship in which they are being physically, verbally and/or emotionally abused and treated terribly. I would not say to that person, “just take a step back and be in the moment” – at a certain point, you have to say, “get the heck out of there and start a new life.”

    I’m not saying that changing yourself isn’t the right thing to do in many situations, because it is. There are many situations in which you are your own worst enemy and the suffering you experience is caused by you, but there are definitely situations in which that approach will not work. The key is knowing the difference.

  3. Wendy, great article, I finally was able to set some boundaries and say no, or I feel and I want, it helped with the meditation, thanks Al Noble

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