How To Stop Fighting Yourself
Fighting is exhausting. If you’ve ever been in a relationship where you fight about an issue, make up, fight about that same issue, make up, fight about that same issue…then you know what I mean.
Fighting. Is. Exhausting.
It depletes your energy. It wears you down. It’s why people make up without finding real resolutions. And then it’s why people inevitably break up because they didn’t put their energy in the right places.
We do the very same thing to ourselves. We use our energy to resist most of the things we can’t change. So many of us struggle here. This is why the Serenity Prayer is so popular. There is great wisdom in these words:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
The fighting I’m speaking about here is when we resist the things we can’t change. We fight ourselves when things don’t go our way, when we want them to be different than they are, when we wish something hadn’t happened the way it did. And typically, the people who fight others often fight themselves most.
We fight ourselves when we don't allow ourselves to fully experience what is in front of us. In doing so, we refuse to accept ourselves and our circumstances fully. When we don't accept ourselves, we're delivering the message that something is wrong with us. The truth is that sometimes life is hard and sometimes life is easy. Sometimes life feels bad and sometimes life feels good. And a lot of this has to do with the perspective we choose to take.
The best way I’ve found to stop fighting myself is to embrace what is. My computer broke the other day. It was the least convenient time, especially on top of all my other stressors, but it happened. I will not tell you that I handled it as gracefully as I could have, but I did accept it. I realized that I would get through that moment just like I’ve gotten through all other difficult moments in my life. (And as a side note, it ended up being a blessing in disguise, as many unpleasant things often are.)
The reality is that we encounter challenges in our lives whether or not we embrace them. But when we fight our experiences, we create suffering for ourselves. The amount of energy we expend fighting ourselves is astonishing. Once you stop resisting what is, space seems to open up. The ride seems to be a little less bumpy, the views maybe a bit more crisp. You become freed up to take action in ways you couldn’t before. You have new space and depth to feel and relate.
So I choose to try to accept the painful experiences of life, to accept the things that put me in precarious positions, to accept the fear that these occurrences give rise to, and to acknowledge that this moment really isn’t that different from all of the other other moments I’ve gotten through. And even if it is, I will get through this moment as well because that’s what human beings do. We prevail.
If you’re encountering something difficult in your life right now I encourage you to embrace it. If you’re wondering what that really means, it means sit with your feelings and let it be ok. Don’t wish for it to be different. Don’t tell yourself there’s something wrong with you because this is happening. Don’t push your feelings away by telling yourself stories about keeping it moving and staying strong. You are always keeping it moving; it’s called life. And true strength comes from being with your feelings and experiences, not running from them.
Stay connected to your breath. Do something kind for yourself. Go take a hot bath. Read a book. Meditate. Go for a run. Practice yoga. Tell yourself you are loved just as you are. Believe it. Give love to your discomfort. Give love to your circumstances. Allow yourself to recognize the slight chance that this challenge might be your greatest ally. You’ll see it all more clearly when you get to the other side. But while you’re in it, stop fighting. In the words of John Lennon, “All I’m saying, is give peace a chance.”