One of the first things I did when I began my spiritual healing journey was go to Buddhist meditation classes at the Kadampa Center here in New York City. It was a life-changing step.
I went regularly for about 6 months, each time feeling another weight lifted from my shoulders. I gained so much clarity around what was happening in my life and why. My anger, sadness and hopelessness subsided with each passing week, and for once I began to feel in control of my life.
What’s interesting about control is that we so often feel like we’re not in control, so we spend most of our lives fighting to get it back.
Through increasing my awareness of myself as well as the world around me, I soon realized that I was actually in control of my life…my emotions, my beliefs, my circumstances, my outcomes – the good and the bad.
In fact, we all are!
There are many techniques I’ve learned over the past few years that have allowed me to gain back the control I had let go of, but today I want to share with you a powerful Buddhist lesson I learned at the Kadampa Center which helped me start that process.
It’s not what happens to you. It’s how you react to it.
Maybe you’ve heard this or something similar to it. Maybe you’ve heard this statement at other times, because it’s incredibly powerful and can’t be said enough. The power in any lesson however, is not in learning it, but applying it. That’s when we see the proof of its validity. I’ll always be a skeptic of any idea, but only because I want to experience truth rather than just understand it. So I began applying this concept to my life. In small ways first, and then more consistently to as many situations as I could.
I would say it to myself when I came across challenges, such as disagreements with friends or family, on the New York City subway (one of the best places to test out patience), stress at work, plans that went wrong, getting sick and so on….
Gradually, I began to feel incredible shifts in my life. I felt calmer, more in control over my emotions, happier, more fulfilled with far less; certain things that would have normally upset me didn’t affect me at all. In fact I often laughed at things that would have made me cry or get angry. I experienced the power of this truth and I want you to as well.
We are quick to believe that we are the victims of our circumstances, when in fact we are the creators of them. We create our circumstances by the filters through which we view them. That’s why two people can be present in the exact same situation, yet have completely different experiences. This leads to each individual feeling different emotions as a result of those experiences.
It’s not what your sister said to you that caused you to feel sad. It’s how you chose to react to what she said. It’s not the person on the train who shoved you without saying sorry that caused you to feel angry. It’s how you chose to react to what he did. So why don’t we react in a way that would make us feel better?
Well, we usually don’t think twice about how we react to things that happen to us, because we are reacting from subconscious programming that has existed in our minds for most of our lives. 95% of what we do is through subconscious programming. Our brains have been wired with certain habits and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us since the time were babies. When we first came into this world, we didn’t have judgements about anything. We were simply interested in fully experiencing everything and living from a place of love and truth.
Slowly but surely, through observing our parents, community, culture and society, and being taught what was “right” and “wrong,” we began downloading certain programming into our brains. These beliefs formed our identity and the lens through which we see and live in the world. Our perceptions about the world and our place in it affect how we feel about our abilities and opportunities.
In fact most people are not even living according to their own beliefs and desires, but rather the beliefs and desires that have been programmed into their minds. Are the wheels beginning to turn yet?
But there is a way to reprogram your brain to create a more pleasing, abundant and loving reality that will allow you to experience the life you truly want to be living. One of these ways is by reacting to situations in a positive way and realizing that “it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it.”
I recommend first applying this idea in small situations such as missing the train, losing a piece of jewelry, being placed on hold for an hour, etc.
HERE IS AN EASY 4 STEP PROCESS TO HELP YOU START IMPLEMENTING THIS IDEA:
1. Become aware of the negative emotions you are feeling about the situation. Don’t judge it, just become aware of it. This in and of itself can help reduce the negative impact of the emotion.
2. Repeat the statement, “It’s not what happens to me, it’s how I choose to react to it.” Do this a few times if needed until you’re ready to choose a more positive emotion and response.
3. Choose a more positive response. There are a million ways in which you can react to a situation. How you choose to react will determine how you feel in the end. Consider what response will most benefit you and those around you.
4. Check in with yourself to see if you notice a difference in how you feel now, and how you would have felt if you reacted how you used to.
I can tell you with complete honesty that I use this 4 step process every single day and it has changed my life in the most amazing ways.
Most of us wait for the world outside of us to change and that’s why we keep coming across the same situations and negative feelings over and over again.
As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” Change can only start from within.
Love, Tina Paymaster
Contributor, SERENE Social
About Tina Paymaster
Tina Paymaster is a Certified Health & Lifestyle Coach and EFT Practitioner who helps her clients break through the self-defeating beliefs and behaviors keeping them from experiencing the health and happiness they desire. Tina’s work focuses on healing the mind, body and soul through nutrition, meditation, EFT and various other practices. Her mission is to inspire others around the world to reconnect to their true selves, reclaim their health and happiness, stop settling and start living.
Tina has been featured on Shape, MindBodyGreen, SheKnows and Elephant Journal. She currently works with private clients around the country and and hosts live speaking events and workshops. You can learn more about Tina at www.tinapaymaster.com