Talking to a client recently about how in Buddhist philosophy, any time we suffer misfortune, 2 arrows fly our way. The 1st arrow is the actual bad event, which can cause pain or just dissatisfaction. The 2nd arrow is the suffering, which is optional, as it represents our reaction to the bad event, the manner in which we choose to respond emotionally.

If we shoot the 2nd arrow, it becomes a double-whammy: things go wrong/we don’t get what we want, plus we make ourselves feel bad, give ourselves a hard time in an unhelpful way and so on.
This does require us to be mindful, to be aware and to notice what’s happening, with perhaps self-compassion too (accepting, non-judgmentally, with kindness). Being mindful, aware, in the present moment, and observing allows us to take stock and avoid unhelpful reactions/thoughts/behaviours, and make the best, not the worst of (bad) situations.

(Let’s acknowledge here that with a deeply personal or unpleasant event, it can be difficult to be rational and detached and not to react ‘unhelpfully’).

So, when things don’t go to plan; something bad happens; or (on a smaller scale) you get caught in the rain or miss the train – the first arrow arrives – let’s try and be mindful and accepting and compassionate towards ourselves and reject the 2nd arrow.

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