When was the last time you felt disappointed, hurt, angry or blamed another for something that did not turn out to your liking? We can all think of an example, of a time when we suffered.
A while back, I met and started going out with a man that I was very much attracted to. He had many of the traits and qualities that I wanted. And from the beginning he told me that he did not want to get into a relationship right now, that he just wanted to get together and have fun. Ok, I thought, he’s honest and upfront and I can live with that. But as the weeks went on, I found myself getting upset and angry when he didn’t call. I began to notice how hurt I felt when he had plans that didn’t include me. I felt disappointed if I didn’t see him for a week or more. I was suffering a lot! And then I got it! I was attached to things being different than they are.
When we are attached to having things be a certain way, we are setting ourselves up for hurt and disappointment when they don’t go the way we planned. A client called me the other day and wanted to know what he could say to a woman he’d just met to make her go out with him. He really liked her and wanted to be sure he didn’t blow it. His reasoning was that if he said the right words in the right way, then all would go as planned. She would go out with him; they would fall in love and live happily ever after, right? Come on, we’ve all played that game. It’s hard to not fall into that trap when we find something or someone we really want. And there is a part of us that is screaming DANGER! DANGER! That’s the part that knows that we are attached to the outcome being a certain way.
In Buddhism there is a saying, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Suffering is what we do to ourselves when we hang onto and insist that things go as WE planned. So what can you do about this? How can you stop setting yourself up to suffer? Ask yourself, what is my intention here? What am I committed to in this situation, this moment, with this person? When I asked myself that question regarding the man who didn’t want a relationship, the answer came crystal clear. My intention was to be with a man who cared for me, loved me and wanted my love and attention in return. My intention was to care for and love myself too. Was it loving to me to stay in a relationship that was not a relationship and would never go anywhere? NO! As soon as I accepted that, the suffering stopped.