Counselor's Corner: Resisting or accepting

 Fred Cavaiani

This winter has been rough. Complaints easily fall from our lips. Frustration and anger over the weather can overcome a positive outlook on the day. Cold weather can put a damper on the most optimistic outlooks of the day.

Circumstances beyond our control like the weather, people’s words and attitudes, sickness, and the limitations of people and of life can at first seem very frustrating. First reactions to a negative person are often anger and frustration. First reactions to circumstances like bad weather, loss of health or loss of income are often a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. First reactions to the death of someone close to us will usually be disbelief, followed by intense grief and the feeling that the bottom has just dropped out of our life. 

Experiencing physical and emotional pain is not fun. 

These past two weeks I have been attending a lot of funerals and listening to many grieving people. My heart has much compassion for those who suffer personal losses.

Loss and personal diminishments will happen to each of us. Bad weather and uncaring people are beyond our control. Physical and emotional pain will eventually come upon each of us. When this happens we can either resist what we have to face or we can accept what is before us and learn from it. I can complain about the weather, fight it, live in fantasy and become miserable about the weather that is right now around me, or... I can accept it, learn from it, appreciate it and understand it. When I embrace the cold and the snow I can then discover how to appreciate it instead of having the cold and the snow put me into an emotional prison of complaint and regret. When I embrace the limitations of another person without the fantasy that they have to change to make me happy, I learn how to deal realistically with that person. When I can let go of expectations and see that person as they really are I will have the energy to live my life in a free and happy manner.

Resisting what we have to face is painful and harmful to us. Accepting and embracing what we have to face in life can bring us into a deeper freedom and depth in life. 

Two weeks ago I witnessed a kind and loving man die surrounded by the love of three wonderful adult daughters who journeyed with him right to the end. They embraced the painful journey with their loving father with open hearts and minds. It was a journey of embracing, not resisting. 

To embrace and not resist what we have to face gives us a glimpse of the inner depths of the human person and an entrance into the inner depths of our personal self. In this inner depth we discover our own personal journey in life. In the profound depth of this journey we will have an experience of the calmness, peace and wisdom of the Divine.

When we stay in resistance to whatever happens to us in life through circumstances, people or nature, we put ourselves into a prison of anger and resentments. We hang on to wishing that what we have no control over would be different. It gets us absolutely nowhere. 

When we learn what it is like to embrace life with all its ups and downs and not resist it, we become inspired to take a more positive and deeper glance at what our own personal lives should look like. Embrace and do not resist life. 

Embrace the moment be it joyful or painful. Do not resist the moment by living in the past or jumping to the future. The embrace of the pain and limitations of the moment bring us freedom and allow us to become unlimited in wisdom, love and creativity. The embrace of the joy and goodness of the present moment allows us to open up to whatever we need to complete in our tremendous journey through life. It also gives us permission to experience the joy and goodness in life that can come to us in each moment of life as long as we embrace and do not resist.

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Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

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