Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun, said, "Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know." This quote got me to thinking about a challenging situation in my own life that had been going on for almost a decade, a heated conflict with my ex-husband.
Now, I'll honestly admit that for most of that time, I readily contributed to the battle unconsciously with gusto, but I've grown tremendously over the last couple of years emotionally and spiritually. I read obsessively and try put into practice in my own life the teachings and philosophies of everything from Buddhism to the latest brain science. I understand that I'm a do-it-yourself project in process which takes time -- and lots of it, but I do pretty good these days most of the time.
"Why in the heck does this situation still persist?" I wondered with frustrated exasperation and sometimes mindful curiosity. In a counseling session, I asked my therapist about this quote and why this trying situation continued in my life. Her answer was a huge aha moment for me.
I was interpreting the quote to mean that when you have learned the lesson -- graduated with diploma in hand, as I thought I had -- that the challenge would literally cease to exist in in your life. She suggested a different perspective.
When you have learned the wisdom a situation has to teach you, it may still be present in your life, but it's no longer challenging or troublesome. Whatever "it" is doesn't hook you or get a reaction from you anymore. It's just there buzzing in the background of your life. Ho hum. No big deal. The issue can still be present, but, the problem vanishes because it no longer causes distress for you. You no longer view the situation as a problem.
The same principle is true in any conditions. The actual circumstances aren't the problem. The problem is your thinking of them as a problem. When you change your perspective about a situation, the situation changes instantly. The problem vanishes because you no longer view it as a problem.
As often happens when we're closely involved in something, I wasn't objectively applying my newly-acquired wisdom to this challenge. I guess, anything to do with the ex will probably always be an emotionally-charged situation, but it doesn't have to always be "a problem."
These days, it's business-as-usual almost no matter what arises with him. When something does manage to grab me, I look closely at the issue to see what it has to teach me instead of flipping out and taking a ride on the emotional roller coaster.
Simply changing your thoughts about something can literally alter your reality. Shifting my perspective of the actual quote is one example of this, and changing my thinking about the hassles with the ex-husband is a second example.
I'm sure I'll get hooked on some level again in the future. I've come a long way, but I've not reached monk status yet. However, with this magic trick in my mental health tool kit, I can quickly move towards having any problem "vanish" from my life.
What can you make vanish from your life just by changing your thinking?