You can’t always get whatchu waaaaannt…
Sound familiar? It’s not just a line in a song.
(By the way, be grateful that song was expressed via italics and repeated letters, and not my actual signing voice… Be everlovin’ grateful. For real.)
It’s the damn truth.
But I’ve come to realize that every single time I don’t get what I want, I get something more valuable instead: I get what I need.
(Aw, fuck, the goddamn Rolling Stones are schooling me on life lessons today… Which opens a whole Pandora’s Box of questions, such as why go to school when you can listen to music and learn the same shit, with much less run-around and much more… flexibility towards a little drink?)
And if I’m lucky enough, I not only get what I need, but I get what I need while being consciously aware of it, because not getting whatever the fuck I thought I wanted tripped me up enough to force me to stop (perhaps, take a moment’s pause from my temper tantrum or ravaging sadness), take a look around, and look for deeper meaning in a situation which would most likely have gone by unnoticed, had I simply just gotten what I’d wanted in the first place.
I guess, like all those times I tried convincing my parents to install a pony corral (with pony) in our backyard.
Except I didn’t know now, what I know then. Or… The other way around.
That’s why, in a perverse sort of way, I’ve come rather recently to relish not getting what I want. Because as a person with a higher perspective (you know, that’s ONE version of myself), I’ve decided to want the truth, versus what my ego thinks it knows it wants for me.
Because if you think about it, that’s the only real battle which has ever taken place: truth versus ego. Ego, by nature, opposes truth. That’s its raison d’être. It ultimately comes down to this: our vanity versus our reality.
Or to put it another way, our vanity versus our sanity.
The only great struggle, when you really boil it down.
And while I’ve certainly spent my fair share of time on vanity’s side (and even after all these “realizations” and years of having these lessons beat into my conscious psychological framework, still find myself dabbling there once in a blue moon), I’ve come to understand through having it repeatedly bashed over my head, that as much as you can wish and hope and pray, and quite literally WILL your world to change to your terms, reality only wins.
To believe otherwise is not only a futile attempt and waste of time and effort and “life energy”, it is the root cause of all suffering.
It is the single most infallible opponent, by definition and default.
In other words: only a tried, true, and committed idiot would attempt to defeat reality, which by very definition equals truth, and all which truly exists– since everything else is just an expertly constructed illusion of man’s fragile, yet incredibly persistent mentality that he can fight against what is– and imagine they might possibly win.
And yet, the amazingly optimistic and/or simply masochistic ego’s job description is just that: to attempt to dictate its own terms upon reality through tactics such as manipulation, skewed vision, and faulty logic.
In other words, through our personal perception of the world and its inhabitants.
I have come, through many painful, exhausting and temporarily soul-crushing experiences of sadness, failure, and defeat, to realize that fighting against reality gets you approximately… no where at all.
In fact, it gets you worse than no where at all; It gets you sadness, failure and defeat. (Along with some soul-crushing experiences to boot.)
I’ve also come to see that almost all events in my life fall under one of three categories:
1. Things that didn’t go my way;
2. Things that did go my way; and
3. Things that completely took me by surprise, and blew me away.
So let me break them down (you’ll notice, not in the same order as above).
When things go your way:
Now here’s the ironic part. The things that went my way (or seemed to at the time), are actually kind of the least exciting phenomenon on the list.
Those are the things that actually turned out to be the most disappointing, because once I finally got what I wanted, I realized that apparently, I didn’t want what I thought I’d wanted– which led me to wonder, what the fuck did I really want?
Getting what I wanted often made me end up feel disillusioned with life, or else I simply (and swiftly) moved on to the next thing to try to bend to my will and satisfaction.
When you get what you want too often, it likely just raises your expectations for things to continue to go your way. Which, in most cases, is just dumb luck, and bound to run out eventually.
Now, it doesn’t mean it’s bad when things go your way, it’s just that I’ve found at least personally, this is ironically where the least amount of excitement tends to occur.
Easy come, easy go.
When things don’t go your way:
This is something, as I said before, I’ve actually come to somewhat even like and appreciate (now watch, now that I’ve said that, 1,000 things will go “wrong” and I’ll be sitting here wishing I’d never written those provocative last words 😉 ).
These are the times in life when, if my eyes are open, I am able to learn the most about myself, and benefit from the most personal growth. Which, once you get through the torny part, ultimately means you’re just happier and wiser than you were before.
Once you can suss the whole annoyance of shit not going your way part out, it’s actually a win-win situation. The trick is going through it with eyes wide open, and not fighting it till you’re too exhausted, pessimistic, or blind to appreciate the lesson life just handed you, created specifically for your weakness to become strength.
When things don’t go my way, I attempt to be able to look beyond the specific facts (in other words, basically just an egoic mess of illusion and ultimately, a completely imaginary story my mind has made up in order to attempt to overcome reality– and, as I said, an insanely stupid thing to ever attempt… but that doesn’t always stop me) of the situation to see what is really going on*.
*The Work of Byron Katie is perhaps the single greatest tool I have found in getting to the bottom of what I actually want. And the hint is, it’s always something I’m not giving myself, not something that someone or something else is withholding from me.
When you’re upset that something isn’t going your way, you’re in a state of disappointment. Dis-appointment, by its very definition, means dis (as in wrong) and appointment (as in designation). You designated wrong.
You thought wrong.
You put your motherlovin’ eggs into the wrong basket (god fuckin damn, not again…). It’s actually a mistake you created with your mind, in perceiving something as it was not. It’s a snag in the lines of continuity between you and reality.
In layman’s terms, a simple breakdown in communication between you and what is; nothing more, nothing less.
So don’t take it personally when you find yourself dis-appointed* (silly you). It happens to the best of us, and the tonic is the realization that you simply thought wrong. And you are the one who has the power to change your own mind… and therefore, the situation, as well.
You thought something was going to happen, which did not, in fact, happen to occur. This is what you get for attempting to predict the future. 😉
*I actually think disappointment is one of the most hurtful sorts of feelings that exist (at least for me, who’s deep-down, beneath all of my hard exterior of outward pessimism, an eternal optimist).
The trick here is to get to the point of understanding what you wanted from that other person, place, or thing, which you perceive was withheld from you. And then, once you’re clear on what you wanted, or expected to receive, you turn it around to realize how you are actually the one withholding it from yourself.
It almost invariably comes back to love. That you are afraid, you are experiencing some sort of perceived lack, and that you expected to be able to reap that feeling of love from that other noun (person, place, or thing). When in reality, the only love you can ever experience comes from within– that means you.
And so it’s a futile attempt to get milk from a stone, anyway. (Although, they used to say that about soy beans… Until I completely necessarily purchased a soy milk maker. Jesus, what a quarter-life crisis does for the economy…)
Another benefit of not getting our way is that it humbles us. When things are going along just fine, sometimes being in a good mood translates to wanting to help others, and that is great.
But sometimes when things go too well for too long (I know, how annoying is THAT) it can also become apathy for others’ suffering. So the bright side is, whenever you feel like shit, you’re necessarily [physically] reminded of the pain of suffering that is going on around you, and it reminds you of the importance of reaching out a hand or a heart, even when you sometimes may not feel up to task.
(Like you really wanna take a nap… At least, that’s always my down fall.)
It is one thing to empathize with someone else side by side; it is quite another to actually walk in those shoes.
So every time you feel hurt, be reminded of times in which you may have felt empathy for someone, but weren’t able to truly FEEL their pain along with them at that moment. And be glad that now you do, and know that you’re connected in that way. And it ultimately helps you to be a better friend and a better man.
If you can transmute your pain into helping others, and turning what seems to be a negative, into something positive, then you’ve learned the alchemy of living the good life.
Whenever I experience hurt, I feel my walls coming down. I can literally feel my ego crumbling. That’s what being “broken” is. A part of you actually breaks, and, if you learn from it, this becomes strength.
And every time this happens to me, after a good cry or a really good release of negative emotion, I feel refreshed, like I’ve taken a shower from the inside out; it never ceases to amaze me how sometimes, the worst times in my life end up feeling like the most incredible turning points, toward new beginnings and a stronger version of my younger, less wise self.
It’s transformative on the most basic level, and deeply humbling, and it reminds me anew that we are ultimately here to help one another. One of the most amazing experiences as a human being, I think, is to help someone one day, and then to feel them offer you love and support in return during your time of need.
This is one of the greatest gifts I can conceive, of things “not going your way” (or the illusion of it, anyway).
It brings you to a place of receptivity and humility that, perhaps aside from enlightenment itself, only pain can do. It breaks down the barriers between you and others. It humbles you and softens you and opens you up to the world, the way you are meant to be.
The third thing, which is perhaps my favorite to experience, is this last one:
When things blow me away:
Okay, this one is pretty cool and because I’m not a guy, I can use that term without having to crack some sexual innuendo. Except, I just did. So… Then there’s that.
But this one is fun when it happens, and the thing is, it only ever happens when you’re just going along, doing your own thing, and all of a sudden: BAM! Something hits you from out of nowhere.
And you were completely not expecting it. But it’s like, the coolest thing ever.
One stupid example is the time my dad surprised my sister and I with these maroon Motorola walkie talkies we had been DYING for.
It wasn’t a special occasion, he just went out and got them for us. And I still, to this day, remember him walking into my room with them and waking me up with the beeping noise they emitted, and it was just the coolest thing because it was SO unexpected, that it meant so much to me he’d gone out and done that totally on his own, just because.
There aren’t a lot of gifts I specifically remember the moment I received them, but because it was something I wanted, yet never expected to get (I knew they were sort of expensive), it felt like a totally amazing gift from the sky. (Except, you know, a person.)
I have more personal examples of recent events which maybe I’ll write about later, but for now, that will suffice. (Trust me when I say, those were much more exciting. But you get the idea.)
That’s the only way you can ever be blown away, by the way, is completely unexpectedly. It’s only ever in those moments where you completely, one hundred percent were not expecting it at all. And then, it happens.
Because if you were expecting it; it’s like a blockage.
When you’re sitting there, waiting for something to happen, it almost makes it impossible that it will. It’s only when you finally focus back on your life in the moment, that the coolest things naturally tend to occur.
And that’s part of what makes them so magical; they just appear, as if from no where. Yet clearly made especially for you.
It’s got to be something you never dreamed in that moment would come. Or else, something of which you had always dreamed, but had completely forgotten, until it actually happened just then.
But either way, it invariably happens when you’re fully living in the present moment, and not looking for, or expecting anything else.
These magical moments blow you away with the perfect synchronicity and kindness of the universe. It feels like a love note written from the stars. These random and somewhat rare occurrences (though they seem to happen more to me, the more I follow my intuition) offer you reassurance and faith when you need them most. And they renew your spirit so that you can live to fight the great battle for another day.
I had one of these happen to me within the month. And they make you feel like things are always gonna be alright, no matter how foggy your current view from the ground.
Looking back over my life, it has been the times that I was disappointed and completely heartbroken, and then learned how to work my way through them, or completely surprised and blown away, that ended up being the best.
Perhaps, although it’s not nearly as sexy or exciting in the beginning, heartbreak even trumps complete surprise… if that’s what it takes for you to learn to move past it and become your own best friend.
And although surprises are obviously really fun, when you actually grow stronger in the face of adversity, I think that’s the real gift that keeps on giving. It strengthens reliance on yourself, even after the surprise and excitement of that shiny new thing has long since worn off.
Surprises and happy events are great memories, but personal strength is with you here and now, and every step of the way moving forward.
So aside from all that, you’re still really fucking pissed ’cause shit hit the fan. So what do you actually do when things don’t go your way?
Well, the first thing is to realize that in reality, things actually are always going your way; and the reason I can make what might seem like such a ridiculous claim is this:
You, me, and everyone else we know? The one thing we’ve all got in common: free will. And by free will, I mean free thought. Even in jail, your mind is always yours. And what you do with it is your choice.
So because of the fact that, one: you have free will, and two: the universe operates on a cause and effect basis, this means that everything in your life right now, in this moment, is because you, wittingly or not, chose it.
You chose it through your thoughts, actions, and words.
If you don’t like your reality as it stands now, that might be the bad news. But the great news is that because you’re the one who got yourself here, you’re also the one to scoop yourself out of the shithole you might be looking at as “life”.
They weren’t kidding when they said it (whoever “they is”) life really is what you make it.
So ultimately, it’s just a matter of whether or not you [choose to] continue to buy into the story that things are out of your control, that you’re a victim, and therefore continue the fight against what is (AKA reality), or if you will finally come to see everything that has, and will happen to you, as a continual gift from which you can learn, grow, and ultimately thrive.
Because it’s exactly what you chose. Maybe you didn’t know the rules before, but now you do. And that’s when you can start winning at the game.
The fact of the matter, is and this is what great sages throughout the course of time have said, and what I have come to experience for myself as true, if you want to have what you want [that is, become a conscious creator of your own life], you’ve got to make friends with reality first.
THEN you can create the change you wish to see because you’ll be in alignment with the realm upon which you are attempting to enact the change.
That make sense?
It’s like how you can’t physically beat or mentally will someone into being your friend (I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, but I’m fairly certain it doesn’t work… Not from experience, just a slightly educated guess). No, you’ve got to get on their level, make time for them, find out what you have in common, and be the type of person with whom they might want to be friends, etc…
You’ve got a little work to do before you can call them up in the middle of the night asking for Indie song recommendations and their best margarita recipe because you can’t sleep.
You can’t simply will reality to bend to your wishes and expect it to occur; you’ve got to get on reality’s level first, then ignite the change you wish to see from the same level of positivity.
Which means getting clear, getting peaceful. Getting rid of all the shit that the world’s built (and you’ve accepted) over your inner greatness, your god-like strength and creativity.
It’s basically just a turn-around of understanding, the realization that you are not a victim of circumstance, and that you can and do create the world you see. But you’ve got to come from a place of positivity, if you want to see good things around you.
I’m talking meditation, affirmations, and a general feeling of health and well-being, which, even if you can imagine at first, begin to actually manifest in your reality, when you choose them over lower-level vibrations of depression, anger, sadness, blame, resentment, etc.
The direct results of whatever action you take now will bear the stamp of the energy from which it came. In other words, if you’re coming from a place of desperation and negativity while attempting to change your world, you will only create more of the same shit from which you are looking to escape.
Whereas if you can come to terms with your reality in this moment, whether through cognitive behavioral therapy (for example, The Work that Byron Katie teaches– I think that’s perhaps the best solution I’ve personally encountered, and even if it seems corny, I invite you to at least give it a shot; it’s one of, if not the, greatest mental health techniques I’ve ever known to exist), meditation, yoga, deep breathing, visual exercises, or even talking with a friend, then you’re primed to make the change you actually wish to see, take shape in physical form.
When you come from a place of positive intention, positive things are then able to happen. And they do!
If you are at peace with reality, you are at peace. There’s no where else to go. You can choose to make changes in your life, and they are much more likely to come, and much more easily at that, because you are coming from a place of empowerment, peace, and contentment.
When you don’t feel as if you need something to happen, it comes to you. It might seem a little backwards, but it’s when you finally realize that you already have everything you need, in fact that you already have it all, that even more than you ever thought possible, starts to come your way.
You might have noticed this in a small-life example such as when you’re waiting for someone to call. You may have noticed that they almost never will, as long as you’re staring at the phone, willing it to happen. But when you’re out and about, living your own great life and you’ve finally forgotten that person even exists, that’s the exact moment when they’re almost certain to call (or text, or SNAPCHAT you or whatever the fuck it is you want).
And most likely, others will, too. It’s the law of attraction.
I remember learning this in middle school with a boy I really liked. My life practically revolved around either sitting by the phone, or asking my parents if he’d called, over and over again. I monopolized the line and practically TIMED my family members to make sure they kept it open during the times he was supposed to call. To say it was a bit of an addiction or obsession, is accurate. (My poor family– the ones paying the phone bill, nonetheless!)
I remember once even thinking that maybe we were having problems with the power lines when he said he’d call, and didn’t. (Ha!!!)
Then, whenever I was out and doing something and (temporarily, to be sure) forgot all about him, sure enough, that’s when he would call.
Back then, I thought it was just some strange coincidence (or that he was a really shitty slash somehow amazingly attractive boyfriend… or both) but now I’ve come to understand that, years and years later, the story remains the same.
You can’t will reality to bend to you. The best you can do is live in the moment, make friends with it, and just as you don’t mind what happens, exactly what you wanted to happen most often then does.
When you understand this; and I don’t mean just understand it logically, but understand it in terms of lived experience, you can stand back and observe yourself and others, and literally laugh at all their foibles.
They think they’re not getting what they want, when in fact, you, me, and they are getting exactly what they ordered from the menu of life.
(It’s just that perhaps they didn’t know in which language it was written.)
Because you will be absolutely astounded at how much time and energy people have spent, and continue to spend, on attempting to fight against reality, instead of first grounding themselves with what is, and then working in conjunction with reality to build a life within the realm of reality that they ultimately wish to experience.
It is literally mind-blowing, when you realize the things we could achieve, if we simply made friends with reality first, then acted in accordance with its laws, on its terms, instead of attempting to bend the rules in repeated attempts at futility.
It is the difference between being at one, and at war. And the only person responsible for your reality is you.
That’s the beauty of it; you don’t have to wait on anyone else. The entire world shifts the moment you do.
And that, my friends, is what will really blow you away.