As the old adage goes, “You can’t make a square peg fit in a round hole.” Most of us know exactly what this saying means: You cannot force something (or most often, someone) to be something that it is not. We cannot make a square peg fit any better into a round hole by thinking that the hole should be square or wanting the peg to be round. Instead, we are much better suited to focus on and tend to what actually is, rather than wasting our precious resources fretting about the way things should or should not be. And while most of us would agree with this reasoning, it is certainly easier said than done.
When we are honest with ourselves and examine how we view the world, the majority of us would have to admit that we have a relatively clear idea of how things should be. Whether we are talking about ourselves, other people, the ways of the world, or something different entirely, it seems that we all have some kind of definition of what should and should not be happening. We have our ideals, our beliefs, and our way of making sense of the world, and it reasonably follows that we would like to live in a world that supports our views.
And I think this is quite natural. As humans, it is natural to have personal preferences and aversions. It is even natural to want things to be “our way”. To see the world through our very own eyes. To have a few expectations here and there. To have a compass of sorts, that helps guide us toward betterment, as we see fit.
And while this may be entirely natural, and even beneficial, it is not always in our best interest. For when we become attached to our ideals and fixate on the way that things should be in favor of how things really are, we become frustrated and upset. We might even pass unfair judgments based on our biased perspectives and unmet expectations. As we cling to how things should be, we project them onto the world at large. And when that happens, we react to what we think should exist, rather than acknowledging what actually does. And this, of course, sets us up for further disappointment.
However, when are able to detach from these “should bes” and take the world as it is, in a more objective light, we are better able to accept and respond to life as it truly is. Instead of being obscured by ideals, we understand the facts. Rather than focusing on what is missing, or what we would like to find, we deal with what is actually present. And this is empowering, because it helps us clarify and illuminate what is within our power to change, and what is not. And that is what allows us to integrate our ideals with our reality, live in the here and now, and interact with life as fully as possible.