Life Happens

Shit happens. I know this to be a fact, because I read it on a t-shirt. ;-)

It's one of those simple truths that most people agree with, even though they may not like the crude language. Life is full of unwelcome surprises. It does not progress in a flawless path, no matter how hard you try, no matter how cautious you are.

Sooner or later something happens to throw you off guard. It could be an accident, a disappointment or a loss of some kind. And such stuff doesn't happen only once -- it's a fact of life, just like the t-shirt implies.

Does this mean that aggravation and misery are inevitable? That human existence is one ordeal after another?

The answer is Yes or No - depending on whether you allow your inner brat to be in charge. The inner brat is that immature holdover from early childhood, which magnifies problems, blames other people and situations, and becomes furious at having to deal with the complications of life.

When the inner brat is in control, you are so distracted by its negativity that you miss possible solutions and opportunities.

Think back to a time when you were strong, or brave, or clever. Most likely this was also a time of difficulty. In order to feel strong, or brave, or clever you had to ignore the negative influences of your inner brat, and to focus on creative solutions to your problem.

EXPERIENCES OF STRENGTH ARISE NOT WHEN LIFE IS EASY, BUT WHEN IT'S CHALLENGING. Your inner brat is not equipped to deal with challenge, but *you* are.

Next time you feel victimized by circumstances, here's a quick way to help you put the problem in perspective:

Ask yourself 2 questions:

1. Does this problem change the course of my life?

2. Will I still have this problem a month from now?

If you answered No to both these questions, just get busy and look for solutions. What can you do today to get back on track? When your inner brat complains, find a way to prove it wrong. To your inner brat, this situation looks like a crisis, but actually, it's only an inconvenience.

If you answered Yes to #1 but not #2, it means you have grown from the experience. Your inner brat may protest, but you will have the upper hand.

If you answered Yes to #2 but not #1, you have some work to do in terms of minimizing the inner brat's hold on you. Treat it as you would a nagging young child. It will quiet down if you ignore it.

If you answered Yes to both #1 and #2, I truly wish you the strength to cope. Especially at times like this, you don't need your inner brat's negative energy to drain you. You do have resiliency in you - otherwise you wouldn't have made it this far. Every day ordinary people find ways to cope with extraordinary circumstances. Pay attention to that, not to your inner brat.

When "life" happens to you, take control of your inner brat. And let's hope you don't need one of those t-shirts as a reminder. ;-)

Copyright Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. 2005. All rights reserved

Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Camp Hill, PA, and author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating Behavior" (Wildcat Canyon Press, 2004)

Visit http://www.innerbrat.com for more information, and subscribe to her free, monthly Inner Brat Newsletter.


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