I have come to appreciate that situations are what they are. They have nothing to do with how I feel about them. I have learned also , as mentioned in my introduction page, that every thing comes with blessings disguised in them. This is my inherent good theory. It is based on the perception that all phenomena is created, connected and controlled by ultimate goodness, thus every phenomena – including suffering – is inherently good even if that goodness is not always apparent (Loma, 2015; Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2006; Frankyl, 1959).
The story mentioned earlier about Antonis is a fitting example of this. For Antonis, missing the doomed flight was a blessing in disguise, but because the meaning ( the information about the crash ) was not available to him at the time he was being irritated for missing the flight. When adversity strikes the first thing we need to do is to try and find meaning. But sometimes meaning can be hard to find. In such situations, Navilon, (2020) suggests we remind ourselves that every thing happens for a good reason even if that reason is not always apparent.
Also, I have learned to differentiate between people and their behaviour. Sometimes people exhibit inappropriate behaviour, but that does not mean they themselves are bad people. Their behaviour is subject to change but their intrinsic value does not!
To appreciate the inappropriateness of the outcome of a situation (damage or behaviour) is different from being upset about it. In fact, being upset, especially for a prolonged period of time, is counterproductive. This is because prolonged surge of negative emotions reduce our ability to think rationally as well as causing a cascade of physical and mental illnesses.
I have experienced unprecedented levels of racism for years. This was really bad in the social care setting where I used to support children from difficult upbringing. Abusers used to slap me with all manner of racist labels. From the “N” word to “monkey”. I must say initially it got to me a little bit. But I then thought , am I really a monkey? certainly not. I am a valuable human being. If these guys really think I am a monkey, then it is their perception of me, and I refuse to identify with it. More over, if they sincerely think I am not a human being then this suggests two things; they are miss informed or they have some cognitive dysfunction. Any of these reasons, I believed, did not make them bad people. If they knew better they would have behaved better. After all, that is why they were in social care in the first place, and my job was to help them change. This narrative did not condone racism in any way. Instead, it shifted my focus from the abuse itself to the intent of that abuse. In so doing it prevented me from loosing my temper, and enhanced my ability, not only to deal with the abuse appropriately, but also to support young people in their emotional development.
So far, we have established that differences in perspective is the reason why people experience different feelings about the same situation. But why is it that small children exhibit negative perspectives more often than older people ? To understand why you may need to remind yourself about the cognitive roots of emotions here.
Now, though, let us learn practical tips of mental resilience when life gets really tough.