“Embrace the suck”

It’s one of those phrases I picked up in the military. It’s simple enough, but behind it is a lot of meaning.

For many, it’s simply another sarcastic piece of acidic humor with similar roots to ‘suck it up buttercup’.

However, it’s core principle is much deeper. Basically, don’t fight the stuff you can’t control. Better to embrace it, deal with it as it is and move on.

Be realistic, sucky stuff is gonna happen. You can’t avoid it. The vast majority of it will be beyond your control.  Whether it’s the jerk at work, getting rear ended, the latest torrential downpour, the multiple demands on your time, the tragedy that happened on the other side of the planet, the forest fire in the next state, who’s getting elected, someone bumping into you spilling coffee on you or the broken water main down the street. Sucky stuff happens all the time to all of us.

The only thing you are in control if is how you react to it. I’m not talking about the initial impact of shock and emotion. I’m talking about after the first reaction, you should decide what’s the best use of your time and energy. And yes, it is a choice.

Habits and other things may have formed your mental process, but ultimately it is always a choice.  Your choice. The choice may not be easy. It may fly against what you’ve regularly done. But it’s always a choice.

It’s a choice to stop, breathe and think about whatever you’re faced with.

Ask yourself, “am I in immediate danger?”. That’s the first thing to ask because you are your first priority. No one else will look after you like you should.

After that determine, “is it something I have control over”? When you ask this, realize what’s actually in your scope of control. What you can control is limited to specifically what you can do. You can’t control the weather, other peoples choices, the news, the accidents, and the list goes on. If it’s not in your control, let it go.

Yes, you can try to wish to higher powers about changing the weather. Yes, you can wish to the same higher power about turning back the clock so you can get a do-over for something in the past. Yes, you can attempt to influence someone else. But who is ultimately in control? The answer is the same in most cases. Not you.

And finally, ask yourself, “what can I do to improve my current situation?”. Is it break out the umbrella?  Is it pack your bags and take off for higher ground and shelter? Is it, I’m just too comfortable or scared to leave this horrible place, so I’m going to stay and hope it changes for the better? Or, do you realize that the issue has no impact on your situation? Whatever it is, make the choice and move on.

You can choose to hang on to negativity, reliving the hurt and regurgitating the gut wrenching issue(s) over and over. Like hitting rewind and replay at the worst moments of a horror flick. I’ve seen people do this to themselves. Paralyzed over things that have nothing to do with them and that they have no control over. And while they do it, they hang onto the emotional turmoil and use it as an excuse to self medicate. They see these things that are out of their control but they don’t let go of. They numb their senses and check out from life in part or totally because of things out of their control. I’ve done it myself. It’s not easy for some of us to stop and step out of this incredibly wasteful cycle. And for those who take it to extremes, it can have a domino effect on those around you. How many minutes, hours, days or even years are you willing to give up to something you have absolutely no control over? And how many minutes, hours, days or even years are you willing to give of your life and self medicating over something you have no control over?

The final step in all of this, is that once you learn to let go of the stuff you can not control and focus on what is in your control, the less burden we personally feel. And with less burden personally, in turn makes it easier to focus on those things that can make us happy.

‘Embrace the suck’. Feel the impact of whatever it was. Recognize that it’s okay to feel negative about it for a time but only for a time. See it for what it is, something you have little or no control over, close the door on those feelings and move on with allowing yourself to be happy. Or at least not dwelling on the burden of unhappiness.

Where else have you heard this simple principle?

If you see the path we followed, you realize that ‘Embrace the Suck’ is just another version of the ‘serenity prayer’.

So when something comes along, remember to ‘Embrace the Suck’.

PS – As I write this it’s day 350 without a drink.




Author: 21Buzzards

Retired military reservist and corporate helping parent a grandchild. Sharing my evolution as age and priorities impact life.

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