What to do in Really Difficult Situations

This page has some ideas about situations that seem intractable.


If we can accept what is, then the pain it causes is reduced.


Good and bad are not set in stone, the consequences can change as time goes by. So the catastrophising we may do about a situation could well be inappropriate.


There is one thing we do every time we suffer. Suffering needs a story, one that can easily entrench the pain we feel.

Pain vs suffering

Pain can teach us amazing things. But suffering needs a story, a desire for things to be different.


“Suffering is resisting what is” - Rob Scott


What if in any moment you stopped resisting what is? 


A situation that needs changing, that is disempowering - you can still change this with this new approach. 


eg The pain of a terrible marriage where your partner treats you badly and steals from you. Suffering says “Why me?” and stays in the pain.


If you can stop resisting the reality if the terrible marriage, it is not the same as resigning yourself to put up with it for ever. 


You say “It is what it is...and accepting that reality allows me to assess my options in a clear-eyed way because my energy is no longer being drained by the wishful thinking of “Why me? Why this terrible marriage?”

There Isn't Really A Third Way

Eckhart Tolle once said that there are only two options open to us when we have a problem: (1) change it or (2) accept it.

Many people choose the third option of suffering - which is refusing to do either 1 or 2.



#1 Think about a situation where complaining or suffering are/were your default response. How did that work out for you?

#2 If you are suffering at the moment, have you done everything you can to change the situation that caused the suffering? 


#3 Exercise: Pick anything you usually get energised from complaining about. Say out loud:

(State fact) It is what it is

eg My ex broke my heart. It is what it is.

I wolfed my dinner down in 5 minutes. It is what it is.

I ate chaotically last night. It is what it is.


#4 Now repeat the sentences, but add a response statement:

(State fact) It is what it is. In response, I choose to... (recommit to my theta work, do a new slow eating game today, talk to X tomorrow about it, prioritise swimming tonight, etc etc


#5 Try a no complaining experiment today for one hour. Refuse to suffer out loud for 60 minutes. How does it make you feel? 


NB standing up to your inner victim, your complaining and bitching is to be honest culturally abnormal! This will not come easily, in the same way that meditation is challenging. Remember the same maxim: to fail is to succeed...meaning that just having a go at ending your suffering is a massive victory and a very, very rare superpower.