External events do not harm us — only our responses to them can
It may sound counterintuitive — “of course external events can harm us!” we might protest, “I can get hit by a bus, or my partner might leave me!”
But the reality is that the story doesn’t actually end with the external occurrence, even though so many people think it does. We perceive and talk about these events as though they are the defining moment, and sort of gloss over everything available to us afterwards.
These events only have the power that we choose to give them. They only destroy us because we think they are destructive, and allow them to run our lives.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said,
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
And the same is true with anything external — not just other people.
If our judgement about any event is that it is horrible, then we allow ourselves to dwell in the belief that we are far worse off if they happen. But if we strip external events of their power, and reclaim our internal power to decide, gage, and assign value, we maintain control of our lives — and happiness.
Because our internal judgements are independent of external events, the occurrence of a bad event does not necessarily have to result in sadness.
If we lose something dear to us and get down ourselves, the problem is not the loss, but our outlook on it.
Life results in loss. Loss will happen. It’s part of being alive. And while loss looks different from person to person and we may experience different things, to go through life allowing any loss to bully us or push us around emotionally in any direction that it chooses is to surrender our control — and wellbeing.