Too often we attempt to change our lives by changing our feelings. Am I right?
We want to give up and quit—on relationships, jobs, or living situations—when things start to feel messy and unpleasant. We can feel tempted to dwell and spend a lot of time hyping up our emotions and blame everyone else. And, instead of calming ourselves down, we call upon the people who will help us catastrophize it even more.
We think: if I can just change the circumstances that make me feel poorly, everything will feel good again, right?
In some cases it might be best to change our circumstances (especially in times of danger or harm). However, most times we only want to quit because of our emotions. The problem with this is that is makes us more like leaves and less like trees, rootless and weak. Quitting solely due to adverse feelings usually just also confirms our fears: that we aren’t cut out for what we really want in life.
Prudence is the virtue that gives us the ability to transform our fears into hope by looking at the truth of situations. It encourages us to listen to our emotions, but not to act on them. Instead we should reevaluate situations based on its facts rather than its passion. Then with this wisdom, we give a more thoughtful response.
When we take this intentional pause with uncomfortable events or moments, we usually realize that the situation is no where near as bad as we thought. All we needed was some space to gain sage perspective.
William James, the father of psychology in the US, once said, “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” When we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations, learn to stop letting the untrue or irrational thoughts take over. If we do, will find ourselves living entirely different lives. We begin to filter out the lies, and focus on the positive, true information. Overtime, we react less strongly to interpersonal conflict, and, instead, just let it be.
When we begin to wisely consider situations through this lens, we begin planting our roots—and it’s these roots are what will keep us from being dramatically swayed by the inevitable wind that will come our way in life.