“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment”-- Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor

Life is made up of innumerable events and experiences. God willing, those experiences are going to be predominantly bright, sunny, and full of love and joy. However, it is inevitable that life is going to throw some very rough things at you. Living our lives entails some very painful bits: death, disease, addiction, violence, and much more. No matter what badness occurs, something to keep in mind is that it is not what happens to us that elicits the suffering we are enduring; it is our reaction to that event. No other creature has the capability of consciously choosing how to react to such situations.

This is not to say that we as humans should choose to not experience the sorrow, distress or anguish that befalls us. Experience it and explore it, but do not let it consume you. Overwhelming yourself with feelings of sadness, depression, anger, or pain will not do anything positive for you in the long term. If you have lost a job, feel that loss and be unhappy, but accept it and make the choice to change your perception. Where might you go from here? What skills has the job provided for you that will help you in the future? Focusing on the positive may not be easier, but it will certainly be more beneficial. Have you lost your child? This is undoubtedly a horrifying event that could absolutely devour one’s life, if one will not allow for a different estimation of the pain. Think of your child not as lost, but as returned. Your child has returned Home to God where upon your death, you shall also return and be together again.

Jesus was not exactly thrilled when He acknowledged the horrid pain that was going to come upon his death. He was aware that His death would be cruel, and humiliating, yet he continued onward. Though He realized the agony that awaited him, he chose to respond in a brave manner rather than reject the impending end. Jesus says in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
 
Negative thoughts and emotions are part of life, let us follow in Jesus' example, by choosing to navigate those waters with courage and take back some of the painful power negative thoughts and emotions have over us.
 
Some simple techniques that can get you started can be found on the link below.

By: Jeannette Sziler, LCPC