In the first part of this article (Family Issues 3-2-2012) I shared the many memories resulting from my year of avaylus (mourning) for my mother. This week I would like to connect those memories to a better understanding of how good could potentially come from bad happenings in an effort to improve relationships.
The questions are: “How does one make the best of a bad situation or turn it into an even better one? Do we have the capacity to look for the silver lining in bad situations? When things are tough, can we find the ‘toughness’ within ourselves to turn things around? Can we always say that we can find something good from bad?”
I believe most people would agree with me that it is not so easy to find good in bad. However, we should not assume that bad means bad. I believe that when something bad happens, we have to see it for what it is. Many would say we should think, “It’s not so bad. It could be worse.” Of course every bad situation could be worse, but how does that help?
Bad situations are usually perceived from the “me” perspective, but could also be viewed from the “us” perspective. In the “me” perspective we think: what is this event as it pertains to me? How does this event affect me? How does my life change because of this event? In the “us” perspective we ask how the bad event affects the bigger picture, the world at large or others outside our immediate selves. It’s very difficult to see things through both perceptions at the same time. Nevertheless, we can all view the “me” perspective and then the bigger “us” perspective in most occurrences.
A death in my family has a definite large and meaningful “me” effect, while having a very small effect on those outside my immediate family. Others might feel badly or they might even not care. On the other hand, a tsunami in a far off country has an immediate catastrophic effect on those directly affected, but has a very different affect, beyond emotionally feeling sorry for others, on me, thousands of miles away. That doesn’t mean I don’t care or feel bad, but the “me” perspective is very different. Furthermore, the “me” affect that I am experiencing is different from another person effected by the same bad situation. I recently paid a shiva call where four siblings and their mother were mourning the passing of the father/husband. They were all mourning the same person but in very different ways.
Once one recognizes the “me” effect the situation has, one must gather strength and determine how much power he will allow the situation to have over his life. The saying, “knowledge is power” is certainly true. I believe we cannot muster up the power to control negative situations without the true knowledge and understanding of the total situation. Of course, if the situation is very emotional it’s difficult to have a “free” understanding, because emotional “thinking” influences the way we can understand the situations we find ourselves in. This is why we often need an outside person, someone beyond the “me” thinker, to help us understand it from a different perspective.
First and foremost, it is important to always remember the following: “We act the way we feel and our feelings are based totally on our thoughts.” Don’t take this for granted, as it is imperative to personal control. How we relate to others, what we do in various situations and the effects of such behaviors and actions, all come down to our interpretations and understandings of the situations. Whether we are happy, sad, disappointed, etc. is all-dependent on the way we understand and think. From those thoughts develop feelings, which lead to our actions.
It’s important to understand the ways in which we think. There is both conscious thinking (whereby we are able to understand exactly what we are thinking while we process the thoughts) and subconscious thinking (where our brain is very active yet we are not actually aware of the process). Nevertheless, subconscious thinking has definite affects on our daily functioning and feelings. A good example of subconscious thinking is when someone is having an emotional reaction but cannot “put my figure on what’s bothering me.” This lack of understanding how one feels is a telltale sign of the unconscious at work.
Why is it that sometimes someone seems to be bothering us but we don’t know why we feel that way? Why is it that I feel very attracted to someone without knowing why? Our brain is busy working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can see this when we understand dreams. Our subconscious thoughts develop from our upbringing, our daily occurrences and people who have meaning to us (good and bad).