A Question That Will Change Your Life

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change OURSELVES. ~ Viktor E. FranklLast Wednesday night, I had a panic attack.

I was setting up the new daily lesson from the Awaken Your Inner Guide self-study program to go out automatically the next morning, when I realized that something was wrong. For some reason, my email list manager was grabbing the wrong list of recipients.

I quickly checked all the lessons I had set up previously, and sure enough, every single one had the same issue. They were all set to go out the next morning at the scheduled time, except they were all going out to the wrong people!

It was nine o’clock at night; I had no idea how to fix this problem; the technical support team for the email list manager was long gone for the day. What was I going to do?!?!

I wish I could tell you – being a life coach and all – that I was calm and collected; that I took a deep breath, accepted the situation, took what action I could, and went to bed.

No, not really.

I did eventually figure out a work-around, but not before I spent hours panicking, worrying, lamenting about how unfair it was that the one night I could’ve gone to bed early, I had to deal with this problem.

To make things worse, the saga did not end there. Over the next two days, I spent one frustrating hour after another in live chat with technical support, but they had no satisfactory explanations or solutions for me. By Thursday afternoon, my level of frustration had reached a level so high that I couldn’t be productive or get anything else done. I felt completely out of control and helpless.

However, as frustrated as I was, I knew that I was the one who chose my experience.

In fact, I could’ve shifted my perspective and saved myself a lot of grief and suffering with one simple yet powerful question:

What is this situation here to teach me?

When we come face-to-face with a frustrating situation, especially one in which we have little control over what will happen, or one in which there is really no action to be taken on our part to improve the circumstance, we tend to resort to the one thing we think we can do, which is to argue our case, to ourselves.

We say things like “But it just makes no sense why it would happen like this!” or “These types of things just shouldn’t happen!”

None of these sayings are actually helpful in resolving the problem or situation: we say them because they justify the frustration and anger and helplessness we feel.

What we don’t realize is that these sentiments also keep us stuck as victims in the situation at hand. Instead of accepting the situation for what it is, we argue with it, and in the process allow it to frustrate and anger us over and over again.

As spiritual teacher Bryon Katie says: “When I argue with reality, I lose – but only 100 percent of the time.”

Think about that…you lose only 100 percent of the time.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like these types of odds. :-)

The good news is, there is an alternative. Instead of holding on to your right to be indignant and playing the victim, you can choose to shift your mindset and change your perspective, and this question will help you do just that:

What is this situation here to teach me?

The question will help you do three things:

#1. Accept Reality
The reality will not change just because you think it shouldn’t have happened. Arguing simply prolongs the frustration and anger you feel. Not anyone else. You. You can’t move forward until you accept reality.

#2. Focus On What Is Good
The question helps you look for the lesson you can carry forward, that will help you grow and expand. Every situation in life has a lesson for us, every single one. And life has a funny way of putting the same lesson in front of us over and over again until we learn it.

#3. Take Back Your Power
The question also reminds you that you have the power to choose how you want to react to a situation. Do you want to re-live the indignation and frustration over and over again, or do you want to take what you can out of it and move forward? Being stuck doesn’t feel good, and you don’t have to be there. You have the power to decide.

Now, am I saying you are not allowed to be angry or frustrated or indignant, ever?


In fact, I encourage you to honor your emotions. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that you are the person in charge here. You get to decide when you want to stop being angry and move on.

When I finally realized that it was imperative to do some self-coaching and ask myself the question, I came up with these learnings:

  1. Technical issues are to be expected as part of running a business.
  2. I am resourceful and tech savvy enough to figure out a work-around.
  3. I now have a checklist to ensure things are working properly.
  4. There is a way to talk to technical support so they clearly understand what issue you are encountering and what help you need. Let’s face it, as good as a rant feels, it doesn’t help anybody.
  5. 24/7 tech support is important to me, and something that should figure into my decision when selecting a service in the future.

As I answered the question, I found my anger and frustration subside and melt away.

The issue isn’t resolved completely yet, but I’m okay with that. I’m no longer frustrated, I’m no longer angry. In fact, I’m grateful, for the fact that this happened when I am just starting out, when my mailing list is relatively manageable, when it is still possible to figure out and implement a work-around.

In light of how much worse it could’ve been, I’m actually feeling pretty lucky.

Now that, is life changing. :-)

It’s your turn to put the question into practice.

Is there a situation in your life that’s keeping you from moving forward? A shift in perspective might help.

What is the situation trying to teach you?

Share in the comments below!

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  1. Excellent post! Gave me much to think about and how it could have been applied to various instances in the past and how to approach similar situations going forward. Lots of times we are consumed with our emotions, rightly or wrongly, and forget that holding on to them make us stuck until we choose to change for ourselves.

    Wish I had this article with me when I was dealing with AT&T Internet service reps and technical support people who left me without internet service for 10 days when I switched to a faster plan with them.

    I just got more angry as I was passed from one rep to another and they couldn’t solve my problem. And I did exact same things you mentioned, ranted and vented on “this is unacceptable”, “how could this have happened?”, and “do you know what an inconvenience this is causing me?”. All the while they kept giving me the same message “we’re sorry but we can’t get any technician out until next week”.

    All that frustration did not get me any closer to solving my problem – they were completely booked & simply did not have an earlier appointment available – it was making my days miserable and irritable as I kept thinking about how it shouldn’t have happened. Arguing with reality, now I know. Thanks!

    • Jarlin Sung says:

      Thanks for sharing Thu and I’m glad the article resonated with you!

      It’s empowering to know that you have the choice to choose something other than frustration and anger, isn’t it? There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to handle things…it is simply about what brings you more peace and relief. :-)

  2. Great article. I would even say your whole life is one long bumpy road and your task is to find YOUR smoothest way – meaning you are totally right – every situation in life is a lesson. Thanks for your great tools to use along the road

    • Jarlin Sung says:

      You’re very welcome Annika!

      One small suggestion. Instead of seeing life as “one long bumpy road and your task is to find your smoothest way”, how about seeing it as “one great big adventure and your task is to live that adventure with the maximum amount of growth, joy and happiness”? The language you choose can be super powerful in determining how you feel! :-)

      Have a great day!

  3. Jennifer
    Twitter: Jljennifer

    As I embark on my very first business launch, this is a fabulous lesson for me & your vivid experience will help remind me. And I know I need it, because I have been handed the lesson twice today! Earlier today I listened to a webinar on a different topic and heard about accepting (truly accepting) reality. Then tonight I read your great post, which elaborates on that with the great “lesson” question.

    Your story & the other reader’s story brought back my recent experience after losing an iPhone and the scary number of hours I spent being “right” and getting nowhere in many conversations with Verizon and Apple.

    Thanks, Jarlin. Keep them coming

    • Jarlin Sung says:

      Thanks for sharing Jennifer! It always amazes me that when the timing is right, we seem to see the same lesson EVERYWHERE! :)

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