When We Are No Longer Able to Change a SituationWhen Feeling Unhappy, You Have 3 Options

Wow! There are some crazy good shifts going on in the world, and I’m feeling so excited about the positive impact they’re making.

In just this month alone, I’ve heard so many people talking about an urge to purge. Whether it’s physical clutter at home, mental clutter in the brain, or unhealthy patterns in their relationships, people are ready to let go of what no longer serves them.

And I say…thank God!

In my own experience, I’ve been feeling highly motivated to ditch the act of procrastination. We all procrastinate sometimes, but if you find yourself regularly putting off what you know you need to do…especially if following through will improve the quality of your life…there’s no sane reason to procrastinate.

The key word here being sane. Sure, your monkey mind will give you all sorts of ‘good reasons’ as to why you need to put things off…for now. But when that now turns into later…and that later turns into never…you’re missing out on your life!

Procrastination is directly related to some type of resistance, which often leads to feeling frustrated and unhappy. Nobody likes feeling frustrated! So I’d like to share with you this simple, yet profound, lesson about how to effectively deal with resistance.

The following words are from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now:

“Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.”

The tone of “you must” might feel like he’s dictating, but he’s simply stating the reality of what’s needed if you want to take responsibility for your life. Choosing to take responsibility means you are in the driver’s seat…you are responsible for how you get to your desired destination.

You’ll certainly have passengers that will tell you which turns to make, how fast to drive or even what kind of vehicle to use to take you there, but ultimately it’s up to you to make those choices.

So when the quality of your romantic relationship is less than desirable, and that makes you unhappy, you’re dealing with resistance. There is something within you that’s stopping you from making the necessary changes…whatever those may be.

Whenever you meet resistance in any situation that causes you to feel defeated before you even start, you have three options.

Well, technically, you have four options, but the fourth option just keeps you in your existing cycle of frustration. So let’s explore the other three options and break them down one by one.

Option #1: Remove yourself from the situation. If you’re feeling resentful and on the edge of losing your mind, this option probably sounds awfully tempting. BUT, if you’re committed to trying everything within your power to make the relationship work, removing yourself would be the last option. This is a personal decision only you can make. However, before choosing this option, let’s see if you’ve exhausted your efforts for the other two.

Option #2: Change it. What can you do to change the quality of your relationship? First you have to identify the problem, and then find a course of action to address it. Here are some basic ideas for the most common relationship issues:

  • Improve the lines of communication.
  • Find more ways to spend quality time together.
  • Learn to speak each other’s love language (think Gary Chapman).
  • Learn how to forgive and let go of resentment.
  • Set healthy boundaries that will create a sense of mutual respect.
  • Or whatever other changes that are needed to make it work.

And this doesn’t mean just thinking about change, it means taking positive action and making the change…or at least doing your part.

Option #3: Accept it totally. This may be the hardest option. For example, let’s say you’ve already tried to make the changes you desire, but haven’t seen the results. Maybe that’s due to your partner’s unwillingness to meet you halfway. Or perhaps both of you are doing your best…but still not getting where you want to go. Or maybe other circumstances beyond your control are impeding the progress of change. The point is…you’ve tried to change the situation, but it’s just not happening. And let’s say removing yourself from the situation is not an option for you, for whatever voluntary or involuntary reason. So now you’re left with the option of accepting it.

But…it’s really hard to accept something you don’t like or want, right?!! Why should you have to do that? Because…if you resist it, you’re creating internal struggle. If you can’t accept it for what it is, there will always be a part of you that’s screaming ‘No, I don’t want this!’, and that part of you will always feel frustrated and defeated.

If feelings of frustration and/or defeat go on for too long, this leads to resentment and/or depression. And THIS is why you must choose one of those three options.

If you’re choosing to take responsibility for the quality of your life, you must make responsible choices…which includes not engaging in things that create continuous stress in your life.

Of course you have the option to resist what you don’t want…which is the fourth option I mentioned. Of course you have the option to let go of the steering wheel and let external forces take control of your life. Of course you have the option of being unhappy. But I’m pretty sure you don’t want that!

Here’s a simple example we can all relate to: You’re on your way to your favorite yoga class, or to meet a friend, or to do something that you’re looking forward to. You allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and to get there in good time. Then…you get on the road, and there’s been an accident. Traffic is backed up and you’re not moving forward.

In this situation, it is incredibly easy to get irritated. Gosh dang it…you think…why is this happening right NOW? I planned for this and gave myself plenty of time and now I’m going to be late! Your body goes into stress mode, you’re losing your patience, and within minutes of feeling happy anticipation about what you had planned to do, you’re meeting resistance and feeling frustrated.

Can you remove yourself from the situation? No…you’re stuck in traffic and can’t move until it moves.

Can you change it? No…it’s already happened and now it just needs to be handled.

Can you accept it? Yes! It won’t be easy, but this is the only option if you want to avoid frustration. It doesn’t mean you’ll feel happy about the situation, but you can feel neutral…neither happy nor unhappy…just it is what it is.

That’s a very simple example of a scenario where acceptance is the best option. In another scenario, one of the other options may be preferable.

The point is, no matter the scenario, if you want to avoid the stress of resistance, frustration and unhappiness, you must choose one of those three options and you must choose it now.

I remember when I first read those words by Eckhart Tolle years ago. And I remember them hitting me pretty hard.

I had been resisting so many things in my life and felt powerless as a result. This lesson gave me my power back by showing me how I had been creating my own pain.

That certainly wasn’t on purpose…I just wasn’t aware of my options back then. But now…when I find myself resisting something, I can’t deny that I am creating my own stress. And my mind is quick to return me to this lesson.

Learning that lesson has helped me avoid a lot of unnecessary stress over the years. I hope this inspires you to do the same!

Stay tuned for more mindful messages. Giving you helpful tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!

With love and support,

Catherine Dietz
Healthy Relationship Coach

P.S. If you’re ready to take action to make positive changes in your relationship, start here by scheduling your free relationship strategy session. I would love to connect with you and support you in moving forward!