Many of us face tough decisions on the heels of what would appear to be an unexpected derailment of our Life plans. While it is important to spend time reflecting on which new path to forge, often we waste time either fretting about the event itself that has thrown us off-course, or second-guessing the decision we made and wishing we had made another. There is something you can do to make committing to your toughest life decisions easier: Collaborate with the inevitable.
Roberto Assagioli, Italian psychiatrist and contemporary of Sigmund Freud once surprised his accomplished student Piero Ferrucci with his reaction to Ferrucci’s announcement of having been drafted by the Italian military. Dr. Ferrucci, had been working for a year with Assagioli and was initially furious at the interruption of their mentorship in the area of psychosynthesis, only to have it forcibly replaced by 15 months of donning a military uniform, memorizing marches and handlings arms. In his book “What We May Be”, Ferrucci tells of Assagioli’s reaction when he broke the distressing news to him. Much to Ferrucci’s surprise, Assagioli did not commiserate with him.
“Great”, replied Assagioli, instead. “Now you will learn how to collaborate with the inevitable. This will be a most important part of your psychosynthesis training.”
Assagioli’s response stunned Ferrucci at first, until he realized that every challenge we face, becomes part of the lessons that form the School of Life. Resisting reality only tempts us to become bitter and blame people and things outside of us for things not going the way we want them to go. Some things are beyond our control. You cannot both try to hang on to the past and move into the future simultaneously. You made a rational decision recently involving some event that would take you to a new chapter in your life. Now ACCEPT the reality that goes along with such decision. Assagioli believed that instead of grumbling or complaining about an unexpected situation that would appear on the surface to derail your plans, extract all of the benefits you can from whatever situation you are in. Often, these ‘benefits’ involve your freedom of thought and how you choose to perceive your situation.
When Assagioli was imprisoned by the fascists for his antiwar views in the 30’s, he recorded his insights in his book “Freedom in Jail”. These notes described the freedom he recognized in his own ability to extract the benefits of his jail experience by taking on various perspectives regarding his situation. Instead of self-pity or bitterness, he could look at his time in prison with a sense of humor, with a curious interest, as a period that would allow him some time for reflective thinking about philosophical issues, reviewing his past life, analyzing scientific problems, or using the time as a spiritual retreat.
If Assagioli could take the most adverse personal circumstance and turn it into a number of positive possibilities with only the power of his thoughts, you can do the same regarding your impending transition—by collaborating with the inevitable and changing your thoughts regarding what is happening to you. Instead of focusing on how much you dread leaving the familiar, begin to try out different attitudes that focus on the benefits of what lies ahead. Think of how many new adventures you are lucky enough to experience. Try to image how great it is to have a chance to start your life from scratch again. Be strong. Keep body and mind fit. And be the person that you aspire to be by daring to step out of your comfort zone and embracing the glorious gifts of each new day.
Make a list today of all of the benefits you can possibly think of that come along with your upcoming life change and don’t’ let yourself focus on the negative feelings of fear, self-doubt, and the desire to grip on to a part of your life that is now meant to be put behind you.
Now go forward with confidence! I look forward to reading your comments of personal victory.