When an animal attacks and bites you, your first reaction is to pull away. But when you pull, the teeth lock into you and the more you pull, the stronger the bite. Animal trainers will tell you that you and would do better to push into the mouth of the animal. There’s no resistance when you push into a bite but it’s maximum when you pull away. And when the animal has you in its jaws and escape seems impossible, it is better to surrender than to try to resist. The instinct of the attacker is to fight resistance and relax in the face of surrender. When a crocodile has you in its jaws and begins the dreaded death roll (where the reptile rolls and thrashes around to disorient its prey and tear off chunks of flesh), any resistance will result in your body being torn apart. The only way you can survive is to allow your body to relax and go along with the roll.
Push your hand into the jaws of the beast? Relax in a death roll? The advice seems counter-intuitive and, frankly, impossible, but it’s the only way out of such a situation. And it’s a great metaphor the optimal response to life’s emotional upheavals.
When you are attacked by life’s troubles — the loss of a loved one or the devastation of a marriage — the best way to respond is to surrender and accept.
The worst of life’s problems can’t be solved by force or resistance. Accept the problem, roll with it, surrender, push into it and only then will you be released from pain.
Consider this: Mahesh lost a limb in an accident. He became angry and depressed. As long as he fought the fact of his loss and demanded that life not treat him like this, he couldn’t move forward.
Eventually, he was able to accept what happened to him. He was finally able to move forward by learning new skills and integrating the fact of his loss into his identity.
When you stop fighting, when you stop blaming and when you accept what is happening to you, the bite of the problem will relax. Then, you will find your way to freedom.
Dr Shyam Bhat Psychiatrist, integrative medicine specialist
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