December 30, 2015
By Cynthia Kane
How many times have you heard someone say, “I just need to get over it so I can get on with my life?” Or maybe it’s something you also do yourself. When we’re frustrated or hurt or angry, sometimes we just want an instant solution. We think if we say the words ‘Get over it,’ then we can move past it. But is that true?
For me, I’d chide myself to ‘Get over it,’ expecting my emotions to follow, then get annoyed that I still felt the same feeling, thinking ‘Geeze, shouldn’t I be over this by now?’ I failed to see that “I need to get over it” in most cases really meant not dealing with a breakup, issues at work or with family and friends.
My expectation that I should be able to move on quickly from difficult situations made me resist what was actually happening. And that lack of acceptance made it impossible to work through the reality of things. “When we resist change and loss, we bring more pain onto ourselves. We become hardened, angry, resentful,” says Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of Omega Institute, a non-profit that focuses on human well-being and development, and the author of Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow.
So what’s the alternative then? How do we learn to live with frustrating and painful situations?
“It’s only by facing things directly that we can learn from them and make plans about how to proceed,” says author and positive psychology expert Caroline Adams Miller. “When we ignore situations instead of facing them head-on, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to grow from it, and potentially keep it alive by failing to come to a mental conclusion about its significance.”
Facing a situation takes time, it means training our attention gently on whatever it is that’s happening. And instead of trying to “get over it,” which is a form of resistance, we want to observe the difficulty directly, acknowledge it and the emotions we feel, and from there work to incorporate the reality in a way that spurs personal growth. We want to lean into the situation to see what it can teach us, instead of pointlessly obsessing or attempting to skip past it.
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[photo: Tim Wong| flickr creative commons http://ow.ly/cdBW30a8sFk]