COUNSELOR'S CORNER: The difficulty is within us

By Fred Cavaiani

People can be aggravating. Losses in life can cause great pain. Physical limitations and diminishments can create within us a deep frustration. Politics and presidents and senators and Congress can confuse and discourage us. Organizations to which we belong can be deeply disappointing. Husbands, wives, and children can cause us great worry and consternation. All of this is called life.

It is not what happens outside of us that is ever really the problem in life. The difficulty is always within us. No one is perfect. No human situation will ever be perfect. Yet it becomes so easy to lose our tranquility by believing that our problems are based on what happens to us. There is always an excuse for our frustrations. We so often want to believe that what happens to us is the real problem in life. If this would be true then each of us are doomed to a life of misery and depression.

Life is filled with surprises. Life is filled with unexpected events and happenings, both joyous and painful.

Everything that happens to us in life and every person who has a positive or negative influence on us are simply an opportunity to reach a new depth of wisdom and peace. When I embrace what is before me, I discover something deeper within myself. The first discovery is learning the lesson about my own purpose and goal in life. The second discovery is that there is something or someone much bigger than me that gives me a strength and power to cope with life. To experience this power or God I first have to realize that I am not God or chair-person of the universe. When I realize this, I allow myself to get in touch with my own limitations and need for something deeper in my life. The third discovery is how I can reach this inner strength, power or God. I do this by taking a leap to decide that I need help from a wisdom greater than myself.

Good attorneys, good physicians, good psychologists and anyone who really excels in their own profession are people who are not afraid to ask for help from a wise mentor. Dumb attorneys, dumb doctors, dumb psychologists and dumb human beings do not ask others for help. And in their 'brilliance' their stupidity reigns supreme. This is the dilemma of each of us in our journey through life. To realize we need help from others, from God, from something and someone wiser than ourselves. This demands a leap of humility and a leap of faith which is based on logic and surrender.

Have you ever talked to someone who had the answer for everything and admitted no mistakes? Have you ever had someone try and save you by bestowing their assumed wisdom upon you even though you were not asking for their wisdom at the moment? What does it feel like to be around people who pompously make judgments about people who see things differently politically, religiously, spiritually, and psychologically? The truth is that it is like being around ourselves because we all do this at times.

Each of us can get into judgmental ruts and project our own frustrations on external happenings and upon other people. It gets us off the hook from having to look deeper within our own person and discover our lack of humility and our fear of depending upon God or whatever or whomever is greater than ourselves. We become afraid to seek wisdom outside of our own person so we dismiss learning from others.

The other day as I was exercising at my local health club I noticed a man talking to himself. Either he was praying or reciting something but he was definitely talking to himself. Then as I got on the elliptical machine for an hour, I could hear two people behind chatting loudly on the treadmills as they were exercising. I use my exercise time for listening to soft music and meditating. I wanted the one person to stop talking to himself or praying and the other two people to just shut up. The truth was that they really weren't bothering me that much. I just thought that they should not be bothering me at all. I turned up my music, kept exercising and started realizing that they weren't bothering me. It was my reaction to it. Once I realized this, I accepted the limitation of the moment and kept meditating and exercising, the struggle went away. But there would have been a day when I could have been miserable much of the day because I would have assumed life wasn't going the way I wanted.

Life will never go the way we want if we are not willing to embrace the present moment with humility and acceptance.

We discover meaning and peace as we humbly embrace the present moment, accept it and gently listen to what is going on within our own person. As we do this we will discover the opportunity to allow a wisdom to enter our minds and hearts. For some this wisdom is called God, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, higher power, etc. Whatever name we choose to use, each person in life needs to take a leap of humility and surrender to experience this comforting and compassionate power and wisdom.

Without humility and surrender we live pretend lives as Masters of the Universe. But we are not masters of anything. We are just living in miserable fantasies and experiencing life as a battle. With humility and surrender we live in a comforting reality because we learn something new and surrender to a greater wisdom than ourselves in each moment of life. This leads to a profound experience of unity, love, God, and peace. And everything begins to make sense in the moment.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other week. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Wed, Sep 18, 2013


  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »