A significant thought … no, revelation… appeared the other day. It was then reinforced through a dialogue with my wife.
While external hurts and setbacks (enemies at the gates) are constant factors in our lives, our energies are far better spent dealing with our enemies within…. meaning our negative internal dialogues, our negative habits of thought, our unresolved hurts, our chemical imbalances, etc.
I have yet to meet the person for whom life is free of external assaults. Some minor, some major, but they are ALWAYS happening to all of us. So would it not be wiser then, rather than trying to battle the circumstances around us, to focus on becoming increasingly skilled at what our internal mechanisms do with the inevitable assaults?
We are currently on holiday in a beautiful place on the ocean. I was swimming with my step kids the other day at a snorkeling reef a mile or so off the coast. There were ocean swells that continually rolled through the 40 or so snorkelers in the water, as well as the 3 tour boats anchored there. My step-daughter began to feel sick when she returned to the boat and it bobbed up and down with the swells.
We were powerless over the swells. They were not big, but simply repeating and constant. Yet none of us, not us parents, not the captain, not the tour guide, nobody on earth was capable of changing that particular outside circumstance.
What we could do though, was manage what was going on in us. At the suggestion of the captain, we got her to sit in a place where she could see the sun, get fresh air, and watch the activities of the swimmers in the water. In addition, he suggested she sip on a ginger ale. Sure enough, all of these things made the situation better.
What if this were a parallel for other circumstances in life? Can any of us stop the swells from hitting us? Or ought we not simply become better and better at processing what happens? Become stronger, wiser, calmer, and be able to filter out what is and isn’t important? Avoid blame, self-pity, resentment so we do not deplete our daily energy. We battle the enemy within, rather than the enemy at the gates.
The constant swells of life are enough on their own without us processing them into something much bigger and more painful. And the healthier we are inside, the more we can simply take them in stride and continue with the rest of life. Giving them no more energy than they deserve.