What does that mean to “manipulate our experience”? Well, if you’re like me, when something happens that I don’t like, I can respond in a couple of ways that actually resists what’s happening.
One way is judging the person whom I feel is responsible. I can get in my head and point the finger, and tell you all the reasons why they’re a jerk.
I can also go into what I call “my shlump mode”. A shlump mode is where my mind begins to snowball and tell me why I’m a failure or not good enough, and I just feel sorry for myself.
A third way I deal with things is to get self-righteous. This is where I say, “Fine. If that’s going to happen, I’ll just do this!” Often this took the form of overeating or drinking. In other words, I played the martyr and had a right to behave in less than loving ways.
None of these responses helped me or changed my situation. In fact, they only succeeded in making me feel bad about myself and disconnected from others.
So why do we do these things? Why do we try to manipulate and control our experience? Because we don’t want to deal with what’s happening, and often, we’ve responded these ways so often that they’ve really become deep habits. They feel good and familiar at the time, but lousy in the end.
If we really want to experience the life we are living, and not the one we wish we were having, then we need to stop trying to manipulate the experience we are having and accept what Life is bringing us.
If this sounds like a giving up, think again. Life always has your best interest in mind- always! Sometimes a difficult experience strengthens our faith, deepens our compassion, or turns us away from a potentially harmful situation. But you’ll never experience those gifts if you’re slamming your fist against life, saying, “NO!”
Instead, you must learn to acknowledge what’s before you – whether it’s joyful, frustrating, sad, or tender. Simply say, “Ok. Yes. I see what You are bringing me. And yes.”
You can admit, “This isn’t what I wanted. I’m hurt and disappointed.” AND, then commit to showing up anyway. Ask yourself, given these circumstances, what would my best self do?
Remember Life is always on your side. It’s not trying to punish or destroy you. There’s always a gift of love, peace, compassion, or joy within the situation.
And when circumstances happen that are less to our liking, our acceptance is what helps us to stay present, which is where God exists.
Until we accept what is, nothing changes. But when we do, everything does, including us.