Welcome All!

If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Are your thoughts in line with reality?

You suffer most whenever you believe a thought that contradicts with ‘what really is’. As Byron Katie states in her book “Loving What Is” (2002), “If you want reality to be different than ‘what is’, you might as well try to have a cat bark”. To want reality to be different than it is, is beyond useless and hopeless. But this doesn’t seem to keep us from doing this many times a day. How often do you have thoughts like “My boss shouldn’t act like that, it’s ridiculous!”, and “I should have done this, that, and the other”, or this one: “My son should show me more respect”, or “My spouse should know what I need by now”. This ‘shouldisme’ is keeping you from dealing with the world as it is with all its different perspectives and realities and with all its imperfections. It hampers your creativity in finding ways to deal with whatever you are presented with, including disappointments caused by self and others. It imprisons you in a private world of so-called logic and truth that is not universal and it keeps you from seeing your own role in what is going on within and around you.

After my first education in the Rational Effectiveness Training for Trainers and Coaches (stemming directly from the Rational Emotive Therapy by Albert Ellis), I put up a sign at home with the message: “I will not ‘should’ on myself today”. I still remind myself regularly, that imposing ‘shoulds’ on myself, and imposing my demands, my rules, and my ‘shoulds’ on others is not a guarantee for making myself or people around me believe, think, and act differently.  It’s more a guarantee for personal and interpersonal tensions to mount. In the best case scenario, it is a guarantee for short term compliance rather than for long term and authentic changes in perspectives, thinking, and acting.

You may ask yourself: What creates more energy, strength, and ideas? “I wish I hadn’t lost that project” or  “I lost that project, now what can I do?” Accepting what happened doesn’t mean you have to feel happy about it or approve of it. It merely means you can see things as they are, feel the loss, anger, or disappointment without resistance, and see things as they are without the confusion of an inner struggle but with the determination to move on. This should not have happened, this is unfair, I shouldn’t have had to experience this” can sure feel good at times, but it is victim behaviour that allows you to wallow in self-pity and, more importantly, that keeps you from turning your attention and energy to your strengths, opportunities, and possibilities. Is your cat barking yet?


  1. Your post, Carolien, reminds me of the "shoulda," "coulda," "wouldas" in our lives.

    We can't control what was, or folks ultimate reaction/response to anything. We can control, which you highlight very well, how we react to the circumstances or people in our orbit. Such consistent reactions separates those nearly always swimming upstream and many riding the Hawaiian wave.

    Stay resilient!

    Steve Beseke

  2. As psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl used to say: in our individual response lies our freedom. It's the only freedom that noone can ever take away from us: our attitude towards whatever comes our way. True and very challenging at times, something you've lived, Steve. You're a great example of the 'make it or break it' with your attitude.