by Sherry Scheideman, MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor.
When we see the same message independently arising from philosophers of different times and cultures, we’ve got to take that message seriously and see whether it might be worth trying to live by it. My blog today features such a message, expressed by an ancient Greek, a contemporary German-born resident of Canada, and a Plains Indian storyteller. My ideas on how to live by their message follow the quotes.
People are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them.”
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.”
“One person alone on a mountain top at night might feel fear. Another might feel calm and peaceful. Still another might feel lonely, and a fourth person might feel nothing at all. In each case the mountain top would be the same, but it would be perceived differently as it reflected the feelings of the different people who experienced it.”
This must be an important message! How can I live by it?
Rather than blaming or crediting circumstances for creating feelings, let me take responsibility for my own feelings. Let me notice my feelings as they happen, and just be aware of them, without trying to push them away, change them, or figure out why they’re there.
This sounds like self-acceptance! And interestingly, accepting internal goings-on goes along with accepting whatever external circumstances are happening, because there’s no blaming or saying that anything should be different than it is.
What a relief to drop that exhausting resistance to feelings and circumstances, and simply clearly see what is actually happening, inside and out. It frees up all that blocked energy of resistance, and lets it flow freely into action.
Action that arises from this clarity is loving, because self-acceptance is loving, and acceptance of circumstances is loving.
This is a model of respect.
As a counsellor, I love to help my clients realize that, regardless of the situation they are in, they have the power to take responsibility for their own feelings. It is very rewarding for me to see my clients seizing their own integrity, and even sometimes becoming grateful for the adversity that compelled them to do that important life work.
The Work of Byron Katie is one of the best counselling tools I know of to achieve this freedom.
This post was written by Sherry Scheideman, MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Victoria, BC