1. You stop assuming what you lose is for the worst. I just realized that I lost my favorite book of all time. I’ve had it for two years. The pages are barely hanging on by threads, and it’s filled with notes and thoughts and underlined sentences and paragraphs. I’m pretty sure I left it in a coffee shop. My friend turned to me today and said: “It’s okay. Somebody who needed it — and your notes — got it. It was time to pass it on, and buy a new one, to highlight the things you didn’t see before.”
2. You stop assuming you know best. Inarguably, I am an idiot when it comes to my own life. I admit to this. I will be the first to laugh and tell you all the ways I’ve screwed up. I have wanted relationships that were objectively terrible for me, questioned the things that were so genuinely best for me it’s perplexing how one could mistake them. I’ve sullied my own happiness with worry, tried to control that which I couldn’t. Of everything, do you know what I’m most grateful for in this world? The fact that it never listened to me and some other force lead me to where I am. I am so grateful I never got what I thought I deserved. It’s the only thing I can bring myself to consider when I similarly believe that I’m wrongfully not getting something I want now.
3. You meditate on impermanence. Maybe not through literal, actual meditation (though that would be great of course) you have to remind yourself that the root of suffering is not just the impermanence of things, but our attachment to the things that are inevitably not going to last. If something isn’t enough for you in the time that you have it — be it a day, a month, a year — it’s never going to be enough. At the end of the day, you can’t keep it forever. You’d be losing it sooner or later. What’s more important is whether or not you appreciated having it in the first place.
4. You consider what you can change externally. Granted, external control is an illusion that will ultimately fail us all; attachment is a river that inevitably runs dry. But sometimes when you’re treading water, you need a little something to hold onto, no matter how temporary it is or mildly delusional you are for it. If there’s something you can externally change about your situation, do so. If there’s something you can say, a line you can draw, an opinion that’s yet to be voiced, go ahead and make sure you’ve exhausted all your options.
5. And then you focus on what you can change internally. I said this once (I don’t remember what article it was in, sorry) and I stand by it: most little things can be solved with a nap, a drink or a long talk with someone who wants to listen, and most big things have to be solved with an inner reconciliation. Allow that of yourself.
6. You face it until it doesn’t hurt anymore. I once heard someone explain our grown up fears as being similar to how we were afraid of the monster in the closet when we were little. All we really have to do is shine a light inside and realize that there’s nothing there. This kind of acknowledgment is different from attaching to it and creating and manifesting it in your life. It is different than holding onto a perception and then making it your reality. This is just acknowledging what is, and saying it out loud again and again and again until it the weight wanes off. Anybody who has done this can tell you how much it eases your heart and chest and soul. Don’t let the nonexistent monsters haunt you because you just don’t want to open the door.