CONVERSATIONS WITH LIFE

In Psychology, it’s called “coping.” That’s fine, but we like to think of people who are trying to deal with the stress in their lives as, “Having conversations with life.” You don’t realize it, but every day you chat with life. Sometimes you’re mad as hell, and shout out, “I’ve had it with you; you stink!” Other times you’re on top of the world and exclaim, “Life, you’re fantastic!” Even though these extreme reactions capture the moment, they’re lousy for having a conversation because they don’t last.

What makes conversations productive and satisfying? First of all, you need to listen. Very often comments from others include qualifications, conditions, limits, and complications. If you’re not listening, what you hear as simple may be more involved. And so it is with what life tells you.

Second, you need to accept that you are not playing on a perfectly level field. That is, life is probably in a more dominant position, which means you are not in total control even though you want to be. In fact, the only things you can control are your thoughts about what is said, and how you respond. Just as in a conversation with an acquaintance, you must accept the fact that the conversation is not always about you; life has other perspectives to offer. If you attempt to control what others say or think, you will alienate and anger them, and experience frustration when the conversation ends without resolution.

Third, conversations are more likely to be productive if you are positive and respectful to your listeners, as opposed to taking an adversarial approach. The latter puts others in “enemy” mode and will make your comments confrontational and threatening to them. Life will respond similarly; put life on the defensive and you will be disenchanted with the conversation.

We could list other things, but the point is, if you do not follow the rules for good conversations, things will fall apart quickly. Conversations with life are no different. When you get “curveballs” and the unexpected from life, do you listen to the life message being conveyed? Do you have trouble accepting the reality that life, not you, is in charge of your conversations, and that you need to focus only on those things under your control? Do you treat life as your enemy, always being unfair and mistreating you?

The secret to coping with everyday life is quite simple: you need to learn how to carry on conversations with life. Nothing complex here, no rocket science, no intricate psychological theories or pronouncements – you simply need to be able to talk productively with life. Sometimes, the best lessons can be found in the simplest things.

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