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Our Three Choices

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Have you ever noticed that the people who complain the most in life are usually the ones who get the short end of the stick? Why does it seem that those who are grateful and don’t complain always seem to have more? Furthermore, if complaining doesn’t help anyone, why do so many of us waste our time doing it?

One of the great things about working in corporate America is that I get to work with a diverse group of people who come from all walks of life. As a supervisor and leader on the floor, one of my goals is to help people overcome challenges by learning more about their work and perhaps more importantly, themselves.

At my current employer I am lucky enough to have around eleven people on my team that I get to supervise and mentor on a daily basis. If you were to ask any of them what I think about complaining, I’m sure they would all roll their eyes because I’ve said the same thing so many times that I’m sure it feels like a broken record to them.

So here’s my spiel on complaining:

To me, complaining is a complete waste of time and I believe that those who complain take the easy way out of finding solutions to their problems. It’s incredibly easy to blame someone else for our problems but what isn’t easy, is taking responsibility for our own circumstances. By complaining about others we lose any and all power we might have had to remedy the situation. We allow others to run our lifves and give them permission to dictate our future.

Conversely, if you own your baggage and your current situation, you effectively tell the world that YOU have control--not someone else.

There is a lot of power in this realization and I have seen people make tremendous strides in their personal and professional careers just by taking a look in the mirror and saying “I did this; where I am today is because of me, but I have the POWER to change it whenever I want.”

When you realize this, you become a participant for the first time in your own life. Instead of being a spectator and thinking your destiny is controlled by others, you are now in the game and ready to play. As the author Sam Harris says, “As you think, so your life becomes.” Meaning, if you think you have control over your life you will, it’s that simple! And if you continue to play the victim, you will continue to sit in the back seat of this ride called “your life.”

Now, this isn’t to say we can change every situation to accommodate our lives and aspirations. In fact, there will indeed be times where we don’t have control. Think about the last time you had a serious family illness. In that instance it’s very hard to try and not make sense of the situation. However, this is wasted energy in that no matter what we do, it will not change the outcome of the situation.

When we are faced with a difficult situation that we can’t change, what are our options?

Back in 2012 I read Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. In this book Eckhart describes a model to address such situations as the one described above. Since reading this book several years ago, I now only spend energy where it can make a difference. The teaching in Eckhart’s book is simple and is explained as such:

When we find ourselves in circumstances in where we have no control or influence over the outcome we have three choices: we can either accept the situation fully, try to change the situation, or lastly, leave the situation entirely if we find that we can’t accept nor change our current circumstances. In a nutshell you can accept it, change it, or leave it.

To show you how this model is applied I will share a recent personal experience from my life where I used this helpful process to make a difficult decision.

As many of us know, when we get older we change and this change can make it difficult to hold on to past relationships that used to serve us well. As we change, our priorities, desires, and expectations change and therefore, the relationships that we had from the past must change as well to accommodate a new and evolving personality. Unfortunately, if either party chooses a different path or perhaps refuses to change, the relationship can become toxic and unhealthy. The gap between the two parties will only continue to grow and at that point and we must then make a decision.

This exact situation happened to me last year where previous relationships that I held so dear started to become unbalanced and unenjoyable. At first, I tried as hard as I could to change the situation. I tried setting clear and concise boundaries, being honest about my expectations for the relationship and even offering to try and meet them in the middle and find common ground.

Eventually though, I realized things were not getting better and in fact, were getting worse. At this time, I was practicing a lot of meta and compassion meditations and I thought that I might be able to accept this person and our relationship as it was, without trying to change it. As you can imagine, the gap between me and this person grew and it became increasingly harder to accept a relationship that was no longer beneficial to either of us.

So, what to do?

Well, with Eckhart’s model in mind, I really had only one option left. I tried to change things which didn’t work. I couldn’t bring myself to accept the relationship as it was and the boundaries I had set were repeatedly dismissed.

So, I left the relationship…I had an open and honest conversation with this person and told them exactly why I no longer wanted to be a participant in the relationship and although it was difficult to be so brutally honest, it was also cleansing. I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I then knew that I had made the right decision.

Now I have better and more supportive relationships that aren’t taxing and aren’t based on history and familiarity. These new relationships are built on mutual interest and common priorities and they truly make me happy.

As you can see Eckhart’s model can be extremely powerful when we are faced with a situation that we have little to no control over. In the end, my old relationships didn’t all work out but the ones I have today are much healthier and much more fulfilling.

So remember, don’t blame others and let them take control of your life. If you find yourself in a difficult situation where you have little control over the outcome you can either accept it, change it or leave it.

At the end of the day if you are unhappy in a relationship it is your own doing. YOU are the only one that has the power to choose happiness, no one else is going to do it for you. So take a step back and evaluate that relationship that has been causing you stress and find your inner courage to either accept it as is, change it, or leave it entirely.

Thank you as always for reading today’s blog. If there is a situation or relationship that has become toxic and you need advice, we are here for you! It can be scary to navigate these waters alone so please know that you have a support group at your fingertips that is here to help. We appreciate you taking time to read our content and we would love to hear any other ideas you guys might have for future blog posts.

We are also very excited to bring Koren Keiner onto the Purposeful Living Center team and we know she will only add more value to you and the rest of our readers.

Until next time, many many blessings.

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