You Can’t Win

  1. Body Cleanse
  2. The Mind’s Cobwebs
  3. The Bliss of an Empty Mind
  4. Clearing the Gunk Out of Your Head
  5. Exercises in Mind Emptying
  6. Clearing Relationship Gunk
  7. Putting Your Soul into your Being
  8. Dropping the Excuses
  9. Seeing the Light
  10. You Can’t Win


We’re off this weekend to celebrate Dar’s mom’s 80th. Dar has spent most of the summer inputting and fixing photos, which she’s burning to dvd slideshows. Watching the other day, I was struck by the passage of time, as youth turns to middle age and beyond. I was reminded again how important it is to live your life fully and deeply, as opposed to waiting until ‘tomorrow, when I will be happy.’

Thus, today’s article!


You Can’t Win

You can’t be right, either.

Too bad, eh? And then there’s the famous question:

Do you want to be right or
do you want to be happy?”

I suppose it all depends on your definition of ‘happy.’ Many people equate it with winning and being right, so off we go into the wild blue…

It’s an odd one, how many people think that the reason something they are doing doesn’t work is that they aren’t trying hard enough. Or, they think that, with a little extra persuasion (from me, from their partner, from their doctor or some other authority figure,) the non-working thing will magically shift.

Maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t work because it’s the wrong approach!

The biggest confusion I see is the thinking (or learning) versus acting mix-up.

Most folk read, and take courses, go out to The Haven, whatever, and then the cherry-picking starts. What I mean is that our nature as humans is to ‘pick and choose,’ out of what we are learning, only those things which support what we already believe.

I once worked with a couple. She’d been to Haven, and the issue was ‘communication and the relationship.’ I saw them together several times, and then she stopped coming. They also attended a Bodywork workshop.

During the workshop, I taught breathing.

breath posture
Happy 45th, Karen Ann! Boy, you’re getting old…

I had people pair up, and one breathed while the other coached. I wandered, checking in with each couple. When I got to them, she was crying. I asked what was up. “He’s not doing it right!” she wailed.

Nor, apparently, could he do anything right. Her firmly held belief was that he was broken and it was her job to ‘fix’ him. All that counselling, her therapist training, (yup—she had a degree in counselling—she started a private practice, then quit when she discovered that she’d be working with people with problems. No. Really…) workshops and seminars had led to one thing.

She now had a longer list of skills. She added them to her long list of what her partner was doing wrong.

In other words, her prevailing belief is that she is OK and everyone else is wrong. All this has ever gotten her is misery. So, she keeps the belief, gets training, and has more things to blame others for!

Affirmation Folly

Another client fell in love with the guy who was building the addition on her house. She came to me for help. She wanted to construct the perfect affirmation she could repeat so that her husband would accept her lover as her soul mate, welcome him, and celebrate with her the direction her life was going. She just wouldn’t grasp that this is a lot to ask even in the best of relationships—her non-functional belief was that positive thinking and affirmations has the ability to change stupidity into gold.

DOING it differently

Yes, doing. Last article, I mentioned our hair stylist. She has made it her mission to change her way of being by changing her talk, her walk, and her affect.

Another client of mine is not book smart, but for the last 4 years he has been learning and doing complementary medicine to deal with a severely blown out back. He’s 54 and going back to school in a few days to become a Social Worker. He has monumentally shifted what he is doing in the world, and has reached a point of internal peace and contentment.

You must let go of everything that perpetuates your negative states.

By ‘let go,’ I mean ‘lose your attachment for.’

Begin by admitting how attractive your non-working belief system is. We have talked a lot in this series about how your mind works, and this is the ‘key dysfunction’ for all of us.

I have a conditioned belief, it does not work, yet I cling to it and continue to apply it to everyone and every thing, and all I get are crappy results.
I look for anyone and anything that will agree with me that what does not work should work, and will fix it.

You must then embrace what does work.

The simple version of ‘what works’ is this.

The way it is, is the way it is.”

Situations, people, ‘the world,’ all of it (in Buddhism, the 10,000 things), is just there. I cannot change any of it, and whining about it accomplishes nothing.

What I can always change is my approach to the 10,000 things.

  • I can communicate elegantly, no matter what others are doing.
  • I can trust completely, no matter who is doing what.
  • I can think and act with peace and contentment, no matter what my circumstance.

This is hard work.

  • Many are the harpies surrounding us, who want us to be as miserable as they are. Clear them, lovingly, from your life, by refusing to listen.
  • You core belief in your own ineptitude and inadequacy will remain for life. However, your hand is on the internal volume control, and you can choose to still your mind, push the voice to the background, and not live your life in its thrall.
  • You can treat others with compassion, let them be, let them walk their path, and walk yours with verve and gusto. You are a much better example when you are actually doing this as opposed to talking about it wistfully, as you wait for permission or magic to set you free.

Next article I think we’ll head in another direction. In the mean time, use the comment box below and let me know what you think, what you want to read about, etc.

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

2 thoughts on “You Can’t Win”

  1. Hi Wayne

    Letting it go in some senses is the easy part. The pain of holding on can become so great that letting it go becomes a necessity.

    That doesn’t deal with the sadness however. The fantasy we believed for so long because it was so attractive remains just as appealing (and just as unrealistic) as ever.

    Our lives are often driven by such fantasies (career, wealth, image of what a family should be, desire to be loved, etc.) so while “chop wood, carry water” is the implacable present, and the fantasy is recognised for what it is, the lure of the fantasy is no less lustrous.

    When others give the appearance of living my fantasy, I want it too, and that will always hurt.


    • Hi Peter,
      Up very late, playing with new software.
      I’m not so sure about the ‘always’ part of always hurt. The Zen question is, “Who is it that wants and hurts, and an exploration shows that there is no one. The want and hurt are passing thoughts, evidenced by their non real nature.
      I may ‘choose’ to make myself sad as I watch the movie in my head, but one is equally capable of watching it, lettingit go, and then watching the next thing.
      It’s not the movie, it’s the attachment to its reality, when it’s not real. It is, as you say, a fantasy.
      Nice hearing from you, my friend, and it is time for bed!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.