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#70 The Second Arrow

There is a Buddhist parable about a man walking through a forest. Suddenly he is hit by an arrow. The pain is immense. Immediately, his mind begins racing.

“Who would do this to me?”

“Why would someone do this to me? Does someone hate me?”

“How will I fix this?”

“Will I always have this arrow in me?”

“Life is so much pain. Life sucks.”

“Why does this always happen to me?”

Each of these thoughts is another arrow that hurts more than the first. This is suffering.

Have you ever had a head cold and after about three days, it seems you can’t remember what it was like to feel well? It’s as if you have always been sick. You may even wonder if you will ever feel well again. Yet it’s simply a head cold. In a few days, you’ve already forgotten you were ever sick. Yet your thoughts got away from you and caused you continued increased agony.

It’s so easy to lose ourselves in negative thinking. One thing goes wrong, and we focus on the one terrible thing. This causes another thing to go wrong. And another.

In the 2000 film, “The Replacements” Keanu Reeves plays Shane Falco, a washed-up quarterback given a second chance at greatness. The NFL is on strike, and Falco and a group of misfits are given the chance of a lifetime by playing a replacement team to fill the gap.

During a team meeting with the coaches, Coach Gene Hackman asked about the players’ greatest fear. While they make a humorous discussion about spiders and such, Falco simply says “Quicksand.” He then goes on to describe how quicksand works in a game situation.

“You're playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can't move... you can't breathe... because you're in over your head. Like quicksand.”

He’s talking about the second arrow. One thing goes wrong, and while bemoaning that singular circumstance, your thoughts create more pain. This negative thought wavelength creates a vibrational broadcast to the universe, which responds by mirroring another negative event back to you. This is another thing gone wrong. This cycle keeps going until you are buried in “bad luck” and in over your head. You’re in quicksand. And now it seems like your whole life is a freight train of horrible events.

Dreadful things are going to happen. This is life. We all deal with arrows. Arrows are life. But we needn’t keep stabbing ourselves with more arrows by conjuring a whirlwind of depressing thoughts which can create more arrows. Never let the second arrow get you. And the second arrow is released by you, at you.

Let me illuminate my point with my own recent chain of events.

My youngest daughter just bought a used car, right after getting a new job. The car was cheap, but within her cash-on-hand means. A couple of days ago she informed me that her car wouldn’t start. Wouldn’t even click. I asked her the obvious questions, such as “is the steering wheel locked” “is the gear shift all the way in park.” Her responses left no other conclusion than it is certainly at least the battery, and I’m hoping it isn’t the alternator as well.

I got up early the next morning and after an eye doctor appointment (which cost me $600 in new glasses), set off to try to jump the car and get it to the auto store. Yes, the battery is gone, it being nearly seven years old. While driving there, I noticed her steering was acting funny and groaning at low speeds. At the store I was informed that the voltage regulator is going out and there is limited time to replace the alternator. One negative event morphed into three. The battery was $200. Dunno about the other two issues yet.

Then my other daughter informs me that the window on her car won’t roll up. I looked at her car and sure enough the regulator is bad. She shows me another window that won’t close all the way. Two bad regulators. These are beyond my ability to repair easily. I’ll spare the Cracker Barrel peg game we played moving cars around between three separate locations to get her car to the shop before the rain started. This was another $400.

All the while I’m fighting the second arrow. The easy thing to do would be to complain about how when it rains it pours, or how it can’t just be one thing, or quote that Tiger King (I’ve never seen it, but have seen the memes) thing about how I’ll never recover financially from this, or why does this always happen to me. These are the easy thoughts that will create demanding times.

I could feel my mind exploring these kinds of concepts. But I fought the process and forged ahead with clarity of purpose. Old cars break down. One car is 2002, the other 2004. Breakdowns are inevitable. This happens.

I have two choices.

One: complain that everything sucks, bad shit always happens to me, I always have bad luck.

Two: Take care of the problem and move on with life, knowing that some things are a part of life.

How do we fight these urges to sink into a negative way of thinking when challenging times occur?

One: Realize that nothing never or always happens. I read this once about relationships and raising kids. Any time we blame someone for “always” or “never” anything, we are generalizing and accusing. No one always or never does anything. People do shit, shit happens, but no one or nothing “always” or “never” does anything. Stop the second arrow.

Two: Nothing has anything to do with you. We are self-centered beings by nature. We care about what happens to us. We are all we really know well. We assume everyone does everything because of us or directly to us. False. Cars don’t break down just to piss you off. Houses don’t need repair because they are mean to us. People don’t say hurtful things because they are “always” cruel. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the things people do have nothing to do with you. You take it personally. Then blame everyone else for it. Stop the second arrow.

Three: Each incident is a single moment in time. A solitary event. We allow things to pile up in our minds. We do this to ourselves. And when one thing happens, we imagine that more than one thing happens. We create our own series of bad luck because we foster the idea that things are connected. Not all things are connected. Sometimes, shit just happens. Don’t make it more than one shit. Stop the second arrow.

Four: Remain mindful. Observe what is happening right now and observe your reaction to what is happening. What is really happening, in its totality? Are things really piling up on you on purpose? What is your body doing at this very moment? Are you getting tense? Is your breath shallow, your heart beating more strongly, your tensions welling up in your belly? Breathe deeply, slow your thoughts, analyze this very moment. If you let your thoughts and emotions get the best of you, you may lose your ability to choose a proper response to the situation and slip into an emotional reaction that may cost you more grief. Focus on what is happening within and without you. Observe your thoughts without acting on your thoughts, maintain calm. Stop the second arrow.

It is so easy to create arrows after we’ve been shot once. Hate easy. Hate comfortable and simple. Do the challenging thing. Just deal with the first arrow. If you treat it like one arrow, there will normally be just one arrow, not a second arrow.

Deal with the arrow.


Joe “Weeg” Weigant is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Metaphysician, and Empowerment Coach. He combines bodywork, energy work, and coaching to relieve anxiety and depression and balance the nervous system. Weeg coaches his clients to drop the white flag of victimhood and pick up the banner of empowerment, inspiring them to stop riding in life’s trunk and take the wheel of their lives.

Weeg sells herbal products by Nature’s Sunshine, Pure Herbs Ltd. and Juice Plus. He teaches Karate and Tai Chi, Reiki Certification, as well as seminars and workshops in metaphysical and spiritual matters. Weeg is available for sessions at Tri State Holistic Wellness by appointment only.

Contact by text 812.568.5356, or Facebook Messenger to set an appointment.

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