The Second Arrow

The parable of the second arrow is a Buddhist parable about dealing with suffering more skillfully. The Buddhists say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way. Being struck by an arrow is painful. Being struck by a second arrow is even more painful.

The Buddha explained:

“In life, we can’t always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.”

Picture yourself walking through a forest. Suddenly, you’re hit by an arrow. The first arrow is an actual bad event, which can cause pain. But it isn’t over yet. There is a second arrow. The second arrow brings more pain and suffering. Can you avoid the second one? The second arrow represents our reaction to the bad event. It’s the manner in which we choose to respond emotionally.

We can’t control the first arrow. Bad things happen, even to good people. It sucks, but that is life.

I do however have control over the second arrow. I don’t HAVE TO sadden myself. If I apply the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps I can have a daily reprieve from saddening myself. That portion of my depression I have some level of control over. The rest of my depression could be caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain, trauma that has occurred in my life, heck it could be caused by gremlins. I just have to accept that certain things are outside of my control.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

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