From ‘Why is this happening to me?’ to ‘Be water, my friend.’
Updated: Apr 28
Or: From being the victim to flowing through life with grace and equanimity.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where ‘something bad’ happened to you? Where you thought ‘Why is this happening to me?’ ‘What have I done to deserve this?’
You’ve felt that life is unfair, that the world is unfair. That you have done nothing to deserve this. You are the victim and life is happening to you. You are seeking to control the situation, to change it, to make it better, to feel less pain.
There is annoyance, there is anger, there is resentment of what is. There is the wanting for things to be different. The wanting to end the current feeling and replace it with a more pleasant feeling.
You are caught between pain and desire. Between dissatisfaction and the longing for things to be different. You are upset with the world, with how life has treated you (is treating you). You feel to be the victim of life.
Let me back this up with a personal story: A few days ago, I came home after work to find a parcel being delivered and placed in my house’s staircase. Wondering what I had ordered I took the rather light parcel upstairs, only to discover that it had been opened and the contents had been stolen.
A brief moment of ‘this can´t be happening, this can´t be true’ was followed by some sort of amusement. The whole situation seemed more like a comedy than a tragedy to me. The initial brief phase of agitation smoothly turned into amusement and then into the knowing ‘this will pass’.
I remember saying to myself: ‘In a week´s time you will no longer think about this, so why get upset in the first place if in a week´s time you will have forgotten about this incident already. Why get upset in the first place if at one point you will no longer be upset anyway.’ And then I thought ‘Wow, is this whole yoga and meditation thing finally paying off?’
This sense of equanimity was being tested the next day, when I found out that another (more valuable (in terms of price) parcel) was stolen as well… :D:D
I was like ‘Universe, now you are pushing it. Now you are really testing me.’
Testing whether I will remain in equanimity viewing the whole situation as just something happening or whether I will slip back into anger and victimhood viewing the circumstances as life happening to me.
Long story short: I didn’t slip back into anger (my preferred habitualised response pattern), but I felt sadness and the notion of ‘why is this happening to me?’ (over the phone to my mum). My rational mind tried to make it better, tried to relieve me of these feelings by creating the story ‘the thieves need the things more than you do’, and by creating a ‘positive’ outlook ‘maybe the parcels are covered by insurance and at least I won´t experience financial losses.’
Thank you mind for trying to make it better.
This is the mind´s attempt to bring the situation back under control. To change how one feels in and about the situation.
This is the mind´s job: leading our sense of I away from unpleasant feelings and towards a sense of happiness and satisfaction.
These mechanisms of the mind are still based on the underlying assumption that I am the victim, that the situation is bad and that life has happened to me, that life is unfair.
Life is not unfair. Life is not happening to you. Life is just happening.
Life is happening around you and through you.
You are not the victim. You are not the passive partaker in life.
You are the experiencer of life. You are the creator of life.
You can always decide how you respond to life´s events, how you act. You have the choice to place yourself into victimhood or to flow through life´s events with grace and equanimity.
In life there will always be situations and events that trigger you, that the mind deems as ‘unpleasant’. It is your choice what you do with them.
Life is not about avoiding ‘unpleasant’ situations as this would imply the attempt to control life (which is not possible). Life is about flowing through the so-called ups and downs with a sense of curiosity and wonder as well as grace and equanimity.
The famous Bruce Lee quote “Be water, my friend” has grown on me over the past years. My understanding and how it applies to life (my life) has deepened.
Water does not resist. Water does not fight. Water just flows. Water just finds another way.
Water doesn’t feel that it is the victim if there are rocks being placed in its way. Water just chooses another path.
Be water, my friend. Flow through life with grace, ease and equanimity. Choose how you act, how you respond. The choice is yours.
Are you flowing or are you fighting?