Alignment with the Way Things Are

Often in my life, I’m working to change or improve some aspect of my life. As a psychologist, the people I work with usually want to change or improve something as well. This is all well and good. I think it is helpful to be in the process of working toward your goals, and trying to change unhealthy patterns in your life.

But there are two sides to every coin. The flip side of the desire to change and improve is the need to accept and align yourself with the way the world is. We can get into trouble when we want things to be a certain way, if those desires don’t align with the reality of how life works.

For example, I remember talking with someone who was frustrated with the way his body was changing as he aged. These changes were causing him a lot of emotional pain, and he was doing his best to resist what was happening to him. But everyone ages—that’s just how life works. Everyone’s body changes as they age. Resisting this change was a losing battle.

I have struggled with perfectionism in my life, and it’s a similar problem. Struggle, failure, and conflict are inevitable parts of life. It’s just how the world works. To the extent that I resist these aspects of life, I’m working against the grain of how life works. It’s a losing battle.

Think about your life right now. Are there any areas in which you are trying to operate against the grain, outside the lines of how the world works? Might this be a losing battle? What steps could you take to accept the reality of the situation and operate within that framework?

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