Stop arguing with what is

By Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel, LLC


"If you pay attention,” writes Byron Katie, "You'll notice that you think thoughts like this dozens of times a day:

‘People should be kinder.’
‘Children should be well-behaved.’
‘My neighbors should take better care of their lawn.’
‘The line at the grocery store should move faster.’
‘My husband (or wife) should agree with me.’
‘I should be thinner (or prettier, or more successful).’

"These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is," Katie writes. "If you think that this sounds depressing, you're right. All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing with what is.”

My coach and colleague, Steve Chandler, recently wrote this about Katie’s words of wisdom: "People new to [Katie’s approach to problem solving often say to me, ‘But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality. If I simply accept reality, I'll become passive. I may even lose the desire to act.’ I answer them with a question: ‘Can you really know that that's true? Which is more empowering?: I wish I hadn't lost my job, or I lost my job; what can I do now?'"

"This last question captures the essence of coaching,” Chandler continues. “Coaching honors reality. It treats reality as pure opportunity. Clients usually come to a coach with a severe case of disapproval of reality. They want life and other people to be different. They are living from the outside in instead of the most powerful, creative way: from the inside out.”

As a coach, I view part of my work as showing my clients that reality is on their side. Reality is not the problem. Our thoughts about that reality are the only problem.

When we feel rejected if someone says no to us or hangs up on us, that feeling comes from the thought that there is some meaning to their reaction — a meaning that relates to us: “They didn’t like me.” “I was awkward.” “I’m no good at this.” We might also be thinking, “People shouldn’t do that — it’s rude and hurtful.”

But these thoughts deny the reality that people do hang up on us — for reasons that usually have nothing to do with us personally. These thoughts are, as Katie says, arguing with what is, and causing us stress and pain as a result. These terrible feelings come from thoughts that aren’t based in reality.

Stop arguing with what is, and figure out what to do about your reality if you don’t like it. If you want what isn’t yet, don't kick and scream; work to find the empowering view of — and approach to — the things that are causing you stress.