I will never forget when I was going through a very difficult and challenging time, a friend of mine quoted something he had heard in AA, that “life is a process, not a series of events” impressing upon me that things are not going to get better overnight and the answers don’t always come as quickly as we’d like. I’ve never forgotten that and the more I experienced it, the more meaning and truth it seemed to have. I soon learned the depth and value of staying in the process; of permitting it and eventually of actually inviting it. I learned to embrace it.
Life is a process, not a series of events
If we live from one event to another, then we miss all of the lessons from the experiences in between, making it impossible to appreciate how we arrived and therefore impossible to gain the knowledge, the lessons, nor the insights which are essential to our growth. The journey, the process, is where the important substance lies. In other words, “it’s the journey, not the destination”.
Allow the process
We must allow the process and stop trying to control it. We must trust that we are supposed to go through it. The process is necessary for many reasons. We should not try to rush it or make it end sooner. The process brings us answers to questions, provides experiences which clarify, validate, and teach. In order to allow the process, we must be tolerant and patient. That does not mean be passive or inactive. It requires that we determine what is in our control and what is not, so that we do what we can during the process while we wait for more to be revealed.
How many of you feel pressured to make a decision because you feel so uncomfortable, anxious, and frustrated with the situation that you want to hurry up and get it over with, and so you hastily force a decision? People seem to do this with some of life’s biggest issues and challenges, like should I get divorced, should I leave my job, should I live somewhere else. These are not the type of decisions that should be rushed. A person has to live with the consequences of all of their decisions and these consequences can be drastic and sometimes catastrophic.
Respect the process
We must also learn to respect the process. We must respect the lessons and opportunities it brings. Once you respect it, you will stop trying to control it. If everything happens for a reason, if there are no coincidences, and we accept that, then the next thing is to question and discover the reasons, the answers, the lessons and the insights. Once we understand and grasp those lessons and insights, we can move on. If we do not learn them, then we will repeat them. Life will bring around other situations for us to experience them again, except this time much more intensely and more painfully, until we learn the lesson. It is amazing how many times some us choose to go through something before we learn from it.
Cannot control outcome
We cannot control outcome. We all have the natural tendency to try to control outcome by controlling the feelings, thoughts and actions of others. We have the need to get them to do something or say something in order to create a certain outcome to make us feel better; less anxious, less fearful. Many of us become so obsessed with controlling the outcome that we are not able to even consider the possibility that what we think we want or the way we think things should be, may not be best. Sometimes what we expect is not in our best or highest interest. Sometimes we don’t know what is best for us and we are unable to remain humble enough to realize that or to step back and allow other information to be presented to us.
All of this requires varying degrees of tolerance, patience, and most importantly humility. When you don’t know the answer, when you are unsure of what you should do, or are afraid of what decision to make, you can positively reframe it by telling yourself that “the good news is that I don’t have to know today” confidently knowing that the answers will come and you will make better decisions because of allowing the process.
However, the key is to remain open. So often, the answers, messages, and lessons, may not look, sound, or feel, the way we expect and if we aren’t open we will miss them, possibly even reject them. In order to prevent this, we must let go of certain images and ideas and make the conscious effort to step back and receive what is presented without allowing fear or preconceived ideas or judgments to get in the way.
Look forward to each day and what is yet to unfold with joyful curiosity instead of feeling anxious. There is as sense of calm in curiously waiting to see what happens next or what is revealed next, instead of worrying about it and being consumed with anxious thoughts of “what if ”.
Written by: Giselle Belanger, RN, LCSW (psychotherapist) Available for appointments in person, by phone, or by skype webcam. Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org , Mex cell: (322) 138-9552 or US cell: (312) 914-5203.