When You Struggle, Start With “Since…” - CarlBarringer.com
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When You Struggle, Start With “Since…”

When You Struggle, Start With “Since…”


Many things that we struggle with can’t immediately or directly be solved, which can be frustrating, to say the least. Pain is caused by something that we don’t like, be it physical, mental, or emotional. Suffering is caused by struggling with that pain. It is an overlay of the actual problem.

Life is hard sometimes. This article offers a simple technique to keep it from being harder than it already is or needs to be.

Three Unchangeable Problems

A particular source of frustration comes from things that we can’t instantly change. Yet that doesn’t stop us from spending a vast amount of energy and attention – consciously or not – trying to change them. Here are just three of many examples:

  1. Things that are simply happening beyond our domain. Weather, most world news, etc. Even though we can’t (yet) change the weather, it doesn’t stop us from griping about it sometimes.
  2. Things that happened in the past. This might seem silly, but it is amazing how much time is spent struggling historical issues. No one has successfully changed anything in the past, but we can change how we think and feel about the event. The best use of these ‘things that happened’ is to learn from them so we can have a different experience next time.
  3. People that are not behaving as we would like. We tend to wish people would act, say, and do things in a way that makes sense to us. This is a major issue to many people continuously try to get other people to change so that they can feel comfortable (codependency). Boundaries are healthy. Attempting to control others is not.

Three Powerful Choices

Eckhart Tolle teaches us that there are three useful choices for any situation. Unfortunately, there is a fourth train of thought that creates suffering, which goes something like this:

“This should not be happening/this should not have happened/they shouldn’t be doing this, etc.”

Choices that reduce suffering include:

  • Accept things as they are—sometimes true acceptance is the best choice. This is different from submission. This is a conscious choice and a decision.
  • Affect change—sometimes giving feedback, making a clear and direct request, or some other form of communication can affect change. And though it’s not guaranteed many times, the results from our speaking out don’t show up until further in the future. But those changes may not have happened without the initial speaking out.
  • Walk away—this is the hardest, in some cases, but can be the most effective. Even if the exit is not permanent, it can shake and shatter a dysfunctional situation. It builds self-trust.

Introducing “Since…”

The next time you are struggling, decide which of the three choices makes the most sense (please avoid the 4th). You may not like any of them, but the discomfort and unfamiliarity have a strong likelihood to pay off – in the current situation and in your growth. Frame your self-talk/declaration like this:

 “Since this is happening and since there are three practical choices, I am deciding to choose this…”

Compare that to:

“This should not be happening. Things need to change for me to be ok…”

Try the two varieties on a situation and see how you feel – just by stating it. Check your reason, check your emotions and check your body/intuition.


  1. The Weather. Instead of “What crappy weather. This will be a bad day.” – try:
    “Since it is raining, I can decide to…”
    1. Accept—deal with things as they are and get wet.
    2. Change—Put on a coat to edit the effect.
    3. Walk away—Stay inside and away [from the weather].
  1. The Past. Instead of “I shouldn’t have said that.” – try:
    “Since I had that frustrating interaction with my son, I can…” 
    1. Accept—tolerate right now and see how things unfold once the energy dissipates.
    2. Change—apologize to edit the effect.
    3. Walk away—when acceptance and apology don’t feel like good options. Sometimes there might only be 2 good options.
  1. People. Instead of “Why does she think and act that way?” – try:
    “Since she acted that way, I can…”
    1. Accept—stay in my truth and grounding knowing that is her opinion.
    2. Change—give SBI feedback to edit the effect.
    3. Walk away—don’t engage with her.

The applications and situations are endless. When you find yourself frustrated and struggling, just say “Since…” and let the choices come. This nips in the bud the struggle against what you can’t change. It may be slow going but you will feel more agency and less frustration in a very short time.

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