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  • Let’s Explore The Story of the Two Arrows

    Hello Everyone,

    I hope this message finds you well and thank you for being here with me!

    I wanted to take a few moments to share one of my favorite stories, that I reference daily in my personal life and that I also share and explore with my clients.  

    The Story of the Two Arrows is a well know parable based in Buddhism, and is often used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  

    The story goes as follows:

    As you stroll through a forest, an unexpected occurrence disrupts your tranquility – an arrow is suddenly launched, finding its mark in your arm. The sharp pain is intense, and you can feel the blood as it begins to flow. Almost immediately, your thoughts spiral into a cascade of worries. “What if I bleed too much? What if an infection sets in, hindering my journey back home? What if I lose the strength to reunite with my family? What will become of my loved ones? How will my spouse and children fare without me? What does the future hold for them?”

    In describing this situation, the Buddha introduced the concept of the first arrow as the physical pain caused by the arrow’s impact and the second arrow as the mental anguish triggered by worrisome thoughts. The Buddha cautioned against the second arrow – the mental reactions that involve catastrophizing, minimizing, or blaming.

    The first arrow signifies the inevitable physical pain, a universal experience for all. On the other hand, the second arrow represents what is commonly known as suffering. It’s crucial to differentiate between the two – pain is an unavoidable part of life, while suffering is often a product of our own mental responses, which we may not always recognize.

    Buddha says “Be warned of the second arrow”, which we create with our thoughts, and inevitably leads to our own suffering.

    So, the story of the two arrows teaches us to be mindful of how we react to difficult situations and reminds us that we have the power to choose our responses, minimizing unnecessary suffering along the way.

    Acceptance of the situation, which is ultimately out of our control, is the key to avoiding our self-imposed suffering. 

    There are two equations that are often used with the story: 


    I wish you acceptance and well being, always.

    With Heartfelt Wishes,