Resisting Reality Can Shorten Your Life – Insights from the Wilderness #91

Insights From The Wilderness – Resisting Reality Can Shorten Your LifeIf your goal is the desire to live a long and healthy life, resisting reality is an unconscious mental habit that will need to be dropped from your thought process. Our unwillingness to accept the reality of “what is” is responsible for creating almost all of the stress, anxiety, tension, and unhappiness we experience in life.

Anxiety and stress is known to directly impact your auto immune system, create high blood pressure, and create sticky platelets that builds up plaque in your circulation system. The longer you carry them around the more damage they do.

Stated simply, your stress, anxiety, and unhappiness are not created by events in the outside world, they are created inside your own mind. You are literally thinking yourself into poor health, a short life, an early grave.

So lets take a look at how you might unload a large percentage of the stress you’re carrying.

First, look around you. How many stressed, anxious, unhappy, tense 95 years olds in reasonably good health do you know? Most people who live healthy and vibrant lives into their 90’s tend to be easy going, balanced, and at peace with the world. They are flexible and have the ability to smile and flow with whatever life brings their way.

The Problem

Our resistance to reality, and our inability to be fully present in the “now” of each moment, is the result of our primitive ego’s unconscious childhood need to use dualistic either/or thinking.

Instead of simply accepting “what is”, we mentally judge it dualistically as being right or wrong; good or bad. When reality does not conform to what we think it “should” be, we label it as wrong or bad, and then we immediately begin to resist or change it. Our ego loves to be right.

Of course we are usually powerless to change reality, so the stressful negative dialogue tends to go on inside our mind. “That’s just not right”. “That’s awful”. “This shouldn’t be happening to me”.

Our stress begins to build, and because we are powerless, our anxiety begins to grow.

When we actually attempt to change another person or situation out in the world, we are experienced as controlling, judgmental, opinionated, self-centered, and critical. The end result of our attempt to change “what is” in others often results in stressful conflict.

We do this dualistic right / wrong judgmental thinking unconsciously. We have little to no conscious awareness that we are living our daily lives in an on-going, continual emotional struggle with reality from the time we get up in the morning until we fall asleep at night. You will see this for yourself. Just pay attention as you move through your day.

It’s no wonder stress related antidepressants and anxiety medications are a multi-billion dollar industry.
Here are three simple examples from the last 24 hours of my life on how easily I could have resisted reality and created internal stress for myself.

Example #1 – Last night I watched a news broadcast before going to bed that reflected the GOP’s on-going support of the 1% and their lack of compassion and caring for both the needs of the poor, education, and women’s reproductive rights. Because these are social issues I feel strongly about, I could feel my irritation growing. Their lack of compassion for the poor while protecting the wealth of the 1% was not right!

Example #2 – I went to bed, opened the window for some fresh air, and settled in for the night. Off in the distance a dog began to bark. Within a few moments several other dogs joined in the barking chorus. What was going on in my mind was how thoughtless the owners of those dogs were to leave their dogs outside barking at 11 pm at night.  I could feel my irritation and stress growing. Their behavior was inconsiderate and not right!

Example #3 – I no sooner fell asleep than the new neighbors next door pulled up with a moving van and began moving into their new home—-at 1 o’clock in the morning!  I closed the window but the banging and loud talking easily came through the walls of the house making sleep all but impossible. I could feel my irritation rising. How could they be so insensitive and unaware that people around them were probably trying to sleep. Their behavior was inconsiderate and not right!

These three examples all happened within a few hours of each other.

My stress, irritation, and anger could easily have gotten out of hand. It would have been very easy for me to lose sleep tossing and turning in irritation. My ego was chomping at the bit to take me on a ride down stress lane.

Then I reminded myself that accepting reality did not mean that I was powerless. Accepting reality simply meant that I would need to change my thoughts.

In example #1, I made the conscious decision to get more involved in the political process. To work more intentionally for the more compassionate social values important to me.

In example #2, I accepted the fact that dogs are dogs. They bark! They were probably bothering the owners as much as they were bothering the neighborhood. I have owned barking dogs at times in my own life. I rolled over and went to sleep.

In example #3, I tried to put myself in the new neighbor’s shoes. If I had spent all day packing an expensive truck that had to be returned in the morning, I too would probably have unloaded it at 1 am. And I too would have been excited moving into my new house for the first time. I too would probably have been unaware of how loud I was being. I reminded myself of the times that I too had been louder than I should have been around people trying to sleep.

In all three examples, I was able to accept the reality of “what was” and stop the judgmental thinking ego inside that was getting ready to keep me awake tossing and turning; mentally stressing over things I had no control to change.

All I could change was my attitude and my resistance to what reality was bringing me. Life happens.

I reminded myself that accepting “what is” does not make me powerless. I always have the power to do whatever I need to do when faced with things that are uncomfortable for me. I simply have to remain awake and aware. The only way to access my own personal autonomy and power begins with my acceptance of “what is” and reminding myself I always have the ability to change the way I think.

I do not have to embrace my ego’s dualistic thinking, and I do not have to mentally judge everything that reality brings into my life. This kind of growth in self-awareness is a work in progress for me, but last night I was able to remain self-aware of the thoughts and emotions going on inside of me.

My spiritual practice to become aware of the many times my ego tries to reject and judge the reality of “what is” each day is slowly improving. My ability to be self-aware is growing.

Conclusion

A compassionate spirituality and a sense of peace is the result of learning to accept reality. When you are aware that you are getting stressed, anxious, judgmental or tense, pay attention to how your mind is judging the event as being right or wrong. Pay attention to your resistance to “what is”.

Learn to see the world through the eyes of a mystic and let go of dualism. Let go of judging everything that comes into your life. Just be fully present to the moment and quietly observe “what is”.

Awaken to the presence of dualistic thinking and what you are resisting. It will add years of health and happiness to your life.

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2 Responses to Resisting Reality Can Shorten Your Life – Insights from the Wilderness #91

  1. Linda April 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Hi Dick,

    Enjoyed this however I would like some clarification….I’m feeling that you mean if we are for example feeling very unwell due to say chronic illness this does not mean we ‘should’ be happy about it? We can not like the experience, and yet we can still accept it. Acceptance within the context of long term illness is not about coming to the end of the grieving process and then feeling completely happy and content. Rather, it means for me that grief is sometimes briefly re-visited and painful, yet it no longer dominates my life as it once did. Its an acceptance, acknowledging the pain of all I have lost and all I have to cope with. It means I am no longer living in the past or the future, but coming to terms with life ‘as it is’ now and deciding to live that life as best as I can. I enjoy receiving your nuggets.
    Blessings
    Linda
    New Zealand

    • DickRauscher April 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

      Hi Linda,
      You stated it beautifully. When we resist reality it increases our suffering. As you said, we don’t have to like it, but we do need to accept it. It sounds like you are finding some peace with “what is” in your life.
      I’m glad you are enjoying the Nuggets.Thanks for the feedback and reflections on the article. It’s much appreciated.
      Dick

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