By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
Discord is defined as a disagreement or lack of agreement. However, in the context of this article, discord refers to the emotional discomfort that you feel when what you want is not congruent to what is happening within or around you.
What do you do when you don’t like what’s happening and you can’t control the outcome? (This might be because you can’t control it, or because it’s not your place to do so, or because you don’t have permission.) Do you then select a different part of your life to grab hold of and hang on to tightly? More so do you actually think, pretend, or assume that you have now gained mastery over the events that your unconscious knows you really can’t control? And importantly, do you realize that this is what is happening?
I have talked with many clients about these experiences. The vast majority don’t even recognize all these aspects at a conscious level until it is discussed. In fact, it is not uncommon for an individual to focus on an event or a relationship, recognizing the discord there, when the primary source of discord is something else completely.
Have you noticed feeling strong emotions over an event, and you or others are surprised at your extreme reaction? In fact, the real area of discord is likely something else – for instance, unfinished grief from the loss of a loved one, a job, or a move.
Here are a few examples to help you begin to recognize the layers of discord:
- Your focus is on the recalcitrant child, but the underlying discord is with a spouse, boss or other adult.
- You are hyper-vigilant about your child’s rather normal developmental event, but through conversations it becomes apparent that the real area of concern is the health of your own parent, the status of your employment, or some other fear.
- Social, political or natural events are overwhelming you and you try to find the small areas of your life where you can maintain a sense of control.
This is not meant to minimize any of the emotionally charged events, or your responses. I am encouraging you to realize that when you have minimal ability to affect a major issue, you will likely try controlling something else because you think you can, and peace will not be achieved.
Psychology and Buddhist teachings remind us that you can rarely change the people and events around you, but you can change the way they affect you. The first step is to identify that underlying and hidden discord (see above). At a visceral or emotional level you know the things over which you don’t have control. But maybe it feels too big to your subconscious so you don’t want to see it. This leads you to grasp those alternative things that don’t truly acknowledge or fulfill your need. Unfortunately, these other things may then negatively impact other people in your life.
Knowledge is power, and it’s helpful to get in touch with the source of your discord. It may feel counterintuitive at the moment, but the best way to reduce the discord, inner tension, worry, fear and anxiety is to willingly face that which you are avoiding. Eckhart Tolle teaches that when you finally turn to look at that from which you run, you realize that it is not nearly as scary after all! Turn to see the issue that is hiding in the shadows. It may even be something that you thought you had already dealt with like an underlying fear or a profound loss. The original source, like Tolle says, is not nearly as uncomfortable as it has seemed, because it was perceived through the additional layers of the experience of running away.
Now that the discord has been identified at its original source without its complicating layers you can minimize its influence. Here are two powerful techniques:
- Stay in the present moment and resist the tendency to focus on the past.
- Review the past situation ONE time in order to assess it so that you can learn what you might have done differently. Avoid reviewing it again, because it won’t change the outcome that has already occurred.
- Stay out of the future where worry resides. Instead, allow yourself ONE assessment of the fearful event that is coming up, and create a proactive plan to be ready.
- Stay in the present by: focusing on your breath, or attending to whatever activity you are doing in that moment.
- If your thoughts stray back to the past, or to worrying about the future, redirect your thoughts and return them to the present moment.
- It is defined as mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.
- I think of it simply as the acceptance of what is.
- Allow for the conscious realization that the things around you are truly outside your control and you may as well stop fighting them. As they say in AA: grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Using mindfulness and redirecting your thoughts will help lessen the discord that seems ever-present in life, and help you to achieve a state of equanimity.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield, MI. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties, work or school related anxiety, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders, and those who wish to Remember and Become ‘Who You Really Are’. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and email@example.com, and visit www.SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to replace medical care.