“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness. And the word happy would lose it’s meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come with patience and equanimity.” –Carl Jung on Equanimity
Equanimity, or achieving mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; similar to the idea of acceptance, equanimity is accepting the “good” with the “bad” without judgement.
“But Erika, I don’t like the “bad””
Totally get it. And…like it or not, “bad” happens. Bad days, bad moods, bad fights, bad bosses, bad drivers, bad sleep… “Bad” will always happen to everyone.
Since “bad” is unavoidable, you’re left with having to choose how you handle the inevitable.
You can fight it or judge it or deny it. You can numb it with addiction to sex, food, work or drugs. You can ignore it and wonder why your sleep sucks, you’re irritable, your sex life is suffering, or you can’t concentrate. You can blame it for your lack of fulfillment, peace, or happiness. You can hide out, micromanage your life, spin your wheels trying to perfect yourself to avoid it. All of these have an impact on you, your relationships, and sometimes your community.
Or you can learn to tolerate it with equanimity (notice I didn’t say “like”, “agree with”, or “allow to continue”).
“Ugh…ok. Maybe I could try this equanimity, but how?”
Glad you asked.
Here are 8 steps to equanimity:
Set your intention to practice. Life will provide opportunities to practice and setting an intention keeps your eyes open to those opportunities.
Notice attempts to avoid or fight or judge the “bad”
Breathe deeply…it will calm you down and create space to try new skills
Acknowledge the “bad” and that you don’t like it
Breathe again. This is hard stuff
Remind yourself that you’re practicing equanimity and it’s possible that you can accept this “bad”
If you’re feeling bold and sassy, try to assign meaning to the “bad” (some suggestions: “I can learn from this”, “I can find gratitude in this”, “I can connect during this”, “I can relate to others better by experiencing this”, “I can be more present in my life by acknowledging this”)
Rinse and repeat steps 1-7 as needed.
When you are having a tough time, take a seat and try these steps. Set aside some time right now or later today and see how much better you feel. Then do it again the next time you need it. Try it daily – you might just love it!