How To Get Over The Shit You Can't Change

I don’t believe in time. It’s a distrustful thing that boggles my mind and makes no sense in my soul. In the (almost) eight years I’ve lived in Australia, I’ve never been able to get my head around the idea of the time difference and my UK friends and family are regularly woken obnoxiously in the middle of the night by the shrill sound of an overseas ringtone. I’ve stopped apologising for it and just accept my mistake when they abruptly hang up on me having established there is no emergency other than my brain “doing an Emily”.

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So this morning it was with great delight that my eldest sister, along with my niece and nephew decided that we should spend the day in Greenwich – the actual place they make time (okay, so my sister just read this and apparently I can’t make the ‘outrageous’ statement that time is made in Greenwich. I have to say it’s measured. They MEASURE time from Greenwich – as in Greenwich Mean Time – whatever!)

By lunchtime today, the four of us were standing in the tourist hotspot looking at an underwhelming plaque, the very first clock in the history of the whole world and a line marking the start of time (again, my sister has just informed me that all of these statements are total misinterpretations on my part – although she does concede that the plaque was very underwhelming).

And because it is Britain in the summer, it is raining. And we’d brought a picnic. There’s a reason us English are fond of ironic humour. It’s the only way we stay sane (that and we love Alanis Morissette).

The rain started off a torrent of winging.

“It’s not fair”

“I’m getting wet”

“This isn’t fun anymore”

But once my niece and nephew calmed me down, I began to realise that there was nothing that could be done about the rain – as my niece pointed out “it can’t be controlled”. And she raised a great point – I could let the rain ruin my day, or (to use her language) I could be the grown up and get over it (she gets her Sass from me!).

This got me thinking about how we humans react to the things in life that can’t be controlled. How many of us worry about things that are inevitable like getting older? How many hours are wasted fretting about what other people are thinking and doing? How many people spend their lives wishing they could change the past and in doing so, deny themselves a wonderful future?

In today’s blog I’m going to share with you five ways to let go of the shit you can’t control because it’s a colossal waste of time and energy and it won’t change anything anyway. So we may as well take that time and energy and use it to heal from the past and build a freaking awesome future.

 

1.       Acknowledge and accept

Bad shit happens to everyone. And accepting that is the first step. It is impossible to go through this life and not experience death, heartbreak or loss. Nothing is permanent (not relationships, not your pet hamster, not your car, not people – the only permanent thing is impermanence) and acknowledging this will save you countless hours lamenting what has happened. Another word on this – your story is not special. It’s important, but you’re not the only one who has suffered which brings me to my second point.

 

2.       Leave your pity party. Early.

Yes, your story is important. And yes some bad shit happened. But it can’t be changed so talking about it on repeat not only makes you boring (yes Aunty Emily, we all know it’s raining. Shut Up!) it also keeps us bound to the past and so unable to invite in other people, circumstances, opportunities and experiences (manifest) which will help us move forward into the future. Leaving a pity party can be tricky because we get addicted to attention, sympathy and drama. But it really is the party that you want to be first to leave – otherwise you’ll find yourself not being invited to any others.

Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.
— C.S. Lewis

3.       What can you control? You might not be able to stop the rain, but you can whip your umbrella out.

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4.       My mate Kim once said “all disappointment in life comes from too high an expectation.” And she was right. Now I’m not saying have low standards or don’t dream big. But nothing is perfect, rain happens and shit hits the fan on a regular basis and expecting life to be without problem is just mental. Even Mary fucking Poppins had a bad day sometimes!

 

5.       What you focus on grows in this world and a little bit of gratitude goes a long way. Sure the rain might be coming down, but the rain makes the flowers grow. Sure you left your bag on the train, but at least it didn’t have your wallet in it. Sure your car broke down, but you didn’t crash. You get how it works! (also all of these things have actually happened this week to me and my sister – we’ve sung Alanis Morissetteto each other a lot). I like to use the affirmation “everything is always working out for me” to help me reframe what’s happening when it feels too ironic to bear.

 

The truth is, just like time, some things can’t be changed and the best way to move forward is the learn the lesson and make the most out of the situation.

Sometimes all you can do is draw a line, accept what is and move forward.

And so today, as I stood contemplating time with the rain coming down, I took my niece and nephew and did the only thing that could be done – we sat and ate our picnic in the rain.

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Thanks very much for reading. Em x