Let’s face it. Sometimes things are going to go wrong. You’ll hit traffic, some overstressed barista is going to be rude to you, the kids are going to throw a tantrum. Shit happens. And I know you’ve heard this before, but it really is all about how we handle it. That’s such a nice thought, isn’t it? We love to imagine ourselves being all Zen and cool when chaos breaks out all around us. Car breaks down? No problem. We dial AAA with a slight smile on our lips, and let the passing cars lull us into a meditative stupor while waiting for the tow truck. House on fire? Not an issue. We grab a kid in each harm, the purse with our teeth, essential belongings with our toes and calmly but quickly get everyone to safety. Zombie attack? No big whoop. We flick our perfectly blow dried hair with our perfectly manicured hand, and expertly swing our Samurai sword (which just by the way is the best choice of weapon in a Zombie attack because it never runs out of ammunition, you’ll thank me for this later), while our heart never skips a beat. Yep, we can handle anything. In our fantasy life, that is. In real life, of course, something as small as being late for a meeting can turn us into a stressed out, cursing, wild eyed, manic mess, who will mow down anyone or anything that gets in its way. It’s just harder to actually practice these spiritual techniques in real life…
But that’s really just because we have a lot more practice freaking out than we do keeping our cool. Also, no one ever taught us how to actually go about staying all Zen. When we try to stay calm under pressure, most of us will do so by suppressing our actual reaction. We’re still boiling inside, but we’re trying our best not to show it. We insist “I’m fine” through clenched teeth, except we’re not, really. The idea isn’t to suppress your reaction but to change it altogether. If you merely suppress your emotions, you haven’t changed a thing except maybe made those around you a little more comfortable (unless they’re at all sensitive to energy, in which case they’ll still feel your distress). By changing your reaction to the event, you can avoid the negative feelings altogether, so that you have nothing to suppress. You won’t just be pretending to be Zen, you’ll actually be feeling that way.
Define the Actual Consequences
In order to change your reaction or how you feel about a stressful moment, you have to change your perception of the event and its consequences. You’re late for an important meeting and you’re freaking out. Why? Sure, sure, it’s bad. Obviously, horrible things are going to happen. Or are they? What exactly is the worst that can happen if you’re running late? Maybe the boss will give you a look. Perhaps your coworkers will make a remark. You’re not on the playground anymore. You can handle it. Often, we don’t actually think through the consequences of what we perceive to be a major disturbance to our day. We just react to the idea of it being bad.
I’ll give you an embarrassing example from my own life. A few years ago, I was flying from Barcelona to London late one evening in order to appear as a witness in a court case the next day (this was work related, I wasn’t in trouble or anything). I’d never been a witness, much less had any familiarity with the British judicial system, so I was a bit nervous. Due to a last minute flight, I had to fly via Rome. The airline had made a mistake and hadn’t given me enough time to make my connecting flight, so I got stranded in Rome at around 1 a.m. I was supposed to be in court at 9 the next morning. Now, none of this was my fault, and there was nothing I could do. I’d like to say that I handled myself like a professional, sighed elegantly and made the best of the situation. But I didn’t. I had a complete and total meltdown. I got so stressed out that I actually broke out in tears. Not just stoic one tear either, no, I was a sobbing mess. I did finally make it to London on the first flight out the next morning and arrived at court around 3 p.m. And you know what? It was fine. The judge was charming (and a little flirty), the procedure was quite informal (no wigs or anything), and my part took about an hour. No one cared that I was late, they’d simply switched a few bits around in the schedule and it was all good.
If I’d stopped and thought things through, I wouldn’t have reacted the way I did. But all I could think of was that I had to be in court, court is serious, and not showing up to court when they say you have to, is bad. My train of thought never made it further than that before melting down. I’ve realized since that just asking myself “what’s truly the worst that could happen?” makes me think things through logically, and keeps my mind from going into arbitrary Boogieman territory.
When bad things happen in response to your limiting beliefs
Since everything in your reality is there in response to your vibration, it’s quite possible that the bad events are there in response to some limiting belief you hold. You believe that servers are rude, so you get bad service. But even if that’s the case, and it will be at times, your railing against what’s happening now is not only going to make you feel worse in this moment, it’s also going to get you more of the same in the future. You see, your manifestations (your reality) are a result of your vibration, which is a result of the thoughts you think. But because of the time buffer, the manifestations you’re getting now are actually the result of yesterday’s vibration. And the energy you’re offering now will create your future reality. You can’t change the events that are happening now, just let the manifestations take their toll. But you can change how you react to them, and therefore change what you’ll be attracting in the future (which could be just a few minutes from now).
Don’t automatically assume it’s a bad thing
While some bad things come into your life in response to limiting beliefs you’re holding on to, often the unplanned is part of a manifestation which is actually wanted. You just have to be willing to see it that way. Your car breaking down could lead you to meeting the man of your dreams. Being late could put you in the path of that perfect opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Don’t automatically assume the worst: that this inconvenience is there to punish you in some way. Instead of asking “why me?!?!?”, try asking “where is this leading me?” By staying open to the possibility that you’re actually being led to something amazing, you won’t miss it when it happens.
Look for the hidden adventure
Don’t try to figure out, in the moment, if what’s happening to you is in response to a negative vibration or part of a bigger, positive plan. That won’t work. This isn’t the time to go digging through your psyche; you can do that later when things have calmed down. Instead, just ask yourself one question: “Where’s the adventure in all this?” Look for the positive, the ways in which this could be helpful to you, or just plain fun. Expect it to lead you someplace great. Shifting your focus towards positive expectation is much easier than trying to suppress negative emotion. It does take a bit of practice, but it’ll definitely get easier with time. Also, it just feels so much better.
Here’s a less embarrassing example (after all, I have to redeem myself): One winter evening, I was in Germany with my mom and we were driving down the street. The temperatures were way sub-zero (around -20 Celsius), there was snow and ice everywhere and our tire picked that moment to go flat. It was late enough that the chances of finding an open garage were slim and the idea of changing a tire in that kind of cold (or any weather actually) was less than appealing. One could’ve excused a break out of non-spiritual cursing. But in that moment, I miraculously realized that I had a choice. I could get all stressed out about it, hate every second of the experience and spend the rest of the night bitching about how horrible it was, or I could suck it up and try to change my perspective. And I did (see? Less embarrassing).
I didn’t suppress my emotions by looking at the situation and telling myself “I don’t care. It’s not so bad. I can handle this”, and clenching my teeth. I chose to look at the whole event in a different way. We were still warm and cozy in the car. I liked that. I focused on that. The car itself was still running. I focused on that too. The snow was pretty. I focused on that. It was close to Christmas. I love Christmas. I focused on that. I just kept finding things I liked and things I was grateful for to focus on and refused to allow my thoughts to stray to “Ack! The tire!!! What are we going to do about the tire?!” I just wouldn’t go there. This all happened in a matter of minutes.
Then, we saw a gas station. The garage was closed, but there just happened to be an attendant still there who let us pull in. He offered to fix the tire. We waited in the gas station, still warm and cozy. When he was done, he refused to charge us but just wished us a “Merry Christmas”. I kept looking for the good and the good just kept coming. My mom and I were so delighted with this man, we decided to run to a large grocery store that was still open and get him some brandy chocolates as a gift. We hoped he’d still be there when we got back and he was. The smile on his face was tremendous and I think we made his night. What could’ve been a yucky, stressful pre-holiday event turned into a lovely experience. We got to meet this wonderful, generous man. We have an awesome story to tell, instead of a negative one to bitch about. The whole thing was a minor inconvenience that turned out to be so worth it. I leaned a real lesson that night.
You can’t control everything that happens in your life, not in the moment anyway. Once a manifestation is underway, you kind of have to let it play out. But by not assuming that every unplanned experience is going to be a bad one, but rather by looking for the adventure of it, by asking “what wonderful experience is this going to lead me to?”, you’re putting yourself into a place of positive expectation and that’s a mighty high vibration. Stay there, and your reality must change to match it, sometimes within a few minutes. How you react to each event in your life is entirely your choice. You just have to remember to exercise it.
Have you ever had a bad experience turn into an adventure? Share your thoughts with the rest of us!