You can change your life in an instant

One of my friends was attacked in the street last night. He’s the bravest guy I know and soon he began beating himself up, ashamed that he’d run away.

I thought, “He survived an attack. How could he be ashamed of that?”

In the heat of the moment, few people want Yoda to pop up with “only in the mind, thoughts are” advice. But I guess it’s ok the next day…

In my life, my big challenge is to love what’s real. That means letting go of all hopes for a better past. All my suffering has come from having a story about who I am and how the world should be. When reality punctures that story, I hurt.

Isn’t that true for all of us?

We act as if our stories are real. Then it feels uncomfortable when the stories are made wrong.

If we stay attached to a story and it’s repeatedly made wrong despite our efforts to maintain it, it can feel like the whole fabric of reality is against us. The world is against us. Even our own bodies are against us.

The more we fight it, the worse we feel.

And those feelings can change in an instant.

Recently I worked with a lady who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer and was due to have a breast removed the next day. She arrived in tears, devastated.

In the context of a coaching conversation, I asked how she knew she was supposed to have two breasts. That may sound like an odd question. For some, it may even sound like an offensive question — that’s why I emphasise it was calibrated for that individual in that conversation. For her, she zoned out as she thought how to answer. Like most of us, she’d been carrying an idea of who she was, and part of that for her involved being a woman with two breasts. It felt like an attack when reality suddenly punctured her idea of herself.

A few moments later, her smile was life-changing. It was like a switch had flicked. There was no therapy needed, no nothing. She simply realised that she wasn’t supposed to be anything she isn’t. She was having a breast removed, and it didn’t mean anything more than that.

When people offered her sympathy, she understood that it was them who felt bad. Their story about her had been punctured too. She comforted them while continuing to feel comfortable herself.

Can you apply this principle in your own life? Can you love reality, even if it doesn’t match your expectations?