That’s why I focus on those that I can!

If you have been reading my articles and newsletters for a while, you may have noticed how much happier and freer I’ve become with each passing year. My freedom and happiness are no longer linked to the state of affairs around me: housing, for example, has become less affordable; thanks to COVID, movement has become more restricted; much of the world is either burning or flooding – and in spite of all this, I’m freer and happier than I’ve ever been.

I’ll tell you what changed. I did. I shifted my expectation that acceptance, happiness, connection, love and prosperity could be found outside of me. I’ve fostered the ability to access these things within.

Distinguishing between those things that are within my power to change, and those that are beyond my power, has made a huge difference in my life … and I’ve reconciled with the reality that it’s not my responsibility to change anyone else, and every time I try, I fail.

We are able to change ourselves but we’re incapable of changing any other adult (even though it might sometimes seem as if we can).

What I can do is transform the environment around me with my anger, my sweetness, my toxicity or my kindness.

People sharing the environment with me may respond to the ‘ripples’ that have been created by my moods, my attitudes, my actions and my presence.
Ten different people in that environment will have their own unique reactions to my presence, my anger, my toxicity or my kindness – if I was able to MAKE someone feel a particular way, then all ten responses would be identical.

A ‘possibility-laden gap’ exists in the ‘space’ between ‘how I’m being’ and how any particular individual reacts.
And I’ve let go of my attachment to ALL those things that are beyond my power to change … focusing, instead, on investing my precious life-force in areas where it is not being dispersed or wasted.

Here’s one example: If I’d written, a decade ago, what I’m writing now, I would have been emotionally invested in the outcome. I would have measured my success and my value in terms of how much change resulted from the energy I’d invested.

Now I write, but it’s less important to me whether you or anyone else does anything with the insights that I’m sharing. My freedom to write and to express myself is divorced from the need for an outcome – Take my insights or leave them – they’re floating in a commons – yours to engage with and yours to ignore.

You may be asking, “Why share these insights now?”

As our civilization shifts deeper and deeper into a collapsed state we’re presented with any increasing number of situations in which we experience diminished control: We have less say in where, when and how we can travel. We have less control over who we can gather with, where we can gather or when it’s safe to gather. We have less control over the quality of air that we breathe. We’re more vulnerable now, to the effects of extreme weather, than at any point in our lifetimes.

So at this particular moment in history, our ability to accurately discern between those things that we can change, and those that are beyond our control could mean the difference between catastrophic depletion of our precious life-force when we most depend on it, or ensuring that we nurse our finite, but replenishable, life force in the knowledge that the state of crisis that we’re in is not going to end anytime soon.

Philip Be’er –
Trauma-Informed Counseling Specialist