At some point or another, life will bring each of us to our knees. Diagnoses, breakups, breakdowns: These are all part of the normal human experience.
Our inclination, when we face these crises, is to think: If only …
If only my spouse weren’t leaving me.
If only I did not have this disease.
If only a pile of money would fall from the sky.
We think that if the SITUATION changes we will be able to feel better. This implies, of course, that if the situation does not change, we are doomed to feeling lousy.
But that is simply not true - thank goodness.
There is always a way to feel better even if you cannot change the lousy situation.
Unfortunately, much of life is out of our control. We can do everything in our power to stop our spouse from leaving us, but in the end, the choice is not ours. We can do everything in our power to treat and fight our disease, but we cannot necessarily control the outcome. We can do everything in our power to make money fall from the sky, but that does not often happen.
You can, however, feel better in the face of an upsetting situation.
Here’s the trick to feeling better when the situation is out of your control …
When you are faced with a situation that you ultimately cannot control, identify the EMOTIONAL outcome that you want. Rather than focusing on the SITUATIONAL outcome that is beyond your control, focus on the emotional outcome that is within your control.
Ask yourself: How do I want to feel?
Then, write it down. Take out a piece of paper and write down how you want to feel.
Or, leave a comment here. Just write a few words about how you want to feel.
If your spouse is leaving you, for instance, the emotional outcome that you might want is this: I want to feel loved, and I want to feel hopeful about the future.
When you focus on how you want to feel, you will start seeing opportunities all around you to feel these emotions, even when you cannot achieve the situational outcome.
For instance, you can surround yourself with other people who love you. You can talk to people who found love after a divorce and allow these people to inspire you. You can read love stories or join dating sites and interact with people who make you feel attractive and hopeful.
Here’s another example: I’ve watched countless people struggle with the fear that inevitably accompanies a cancer diagnosis. It’s easy to understand how this fear could take over people’s lives and prevent them from being able to experience anything positive. Fear of the unwanted outcome often prevents people from really living at all.
On the other hand, when people identify that they want to feel love and joy, no matter what happens with their cancer, they reconnect to the people and activities that make them feel alive. I have been honored to witness hundreds of people who heroically allowed themselves to feel love and joy... even amidst the uncertainty of cancer. If they can do it, we can all do it.
Reach for the EMOTIONAL, not the situational outcome.
The important thing is to stop ruminating on a situation that is beyond your control and start doing things that are within your control to feel better. In other words, stop living in fear of the future and focus on what you can do to feel better in the present moment.
When you focus on the emotional outcome and not the situational outcome, you find that there are limitless possibilities for feeling better right this minute.
So, let me know: What EMOTION do you want to feel and what can you do to feel it?