We grow through hardships. This statement is as old as humankind. You can say it is also a story we tell ourselves to get a sort of an artificial relief when times get hard. But is it artificial really; does it really make a difference?
All is in the perspective and what we choose to tell ourselves. When it comes to a perspective, I opt for the one that makes my life easier and happier.
Many of us are rushing through life entangled into our own negative thinking and judging patterns. We are rarely ever conscious what exactly are we thinking until we get into time of adversity. Then we can see clearly in our reality what we have been thinking, what is mirrored back to us and it is a chance to get to know ourselves better and do a spring cleaning of a sort.
A bigger issue is how to cope with difficulty while it’s ongoing. My mechanism, which I adopted living in Asia, is a combination of daily routines rooted in meditation and mindful existence, along with intellectual rationalization and acceptance of circumstances as they are, with focusing on action that makes me happy on top of it all.
In practice my approach looks something like this:
Something happens that stresses you out to the point of sleep deprivation or feeling miserable.
1. I’d start each day with meditation and breathing exercises (and I’ attend to both religiously, without skipping).
2. I’d deliberately avoid worrying and overthinking consequences this event may have and all the bad things that may happen: when crappy thoughts come (and oh they do come!) to the best of my abilities I wouldn’t engage and I’d deliberately switch my focus onto something else. This is not to say that I avoid hard emotions that come up, that is not the case at all. I just refuse to let my mind develop all the dark scenarios of what else might go wrong, because that is complete waste of energy and time.
3. I would let myself feel whatever I feel at that time. No suppressing, no hiding.
3. I’d undertake all the actions I can – all I can do about the issue that bothers me, and I’d make sure to engage myself from moment to moment in the activities that bring the most excitement at that very moment. (Important to note: Most exciting thing doesn’t always mean lying by the pool sipping a cocktail or reading your favourite book. Sometimes even having an unpleasant conversation or doing a thing we don’t really like can be the most exciting, depending what is connected to these actions…).
4. To the best of my ability, I would release all expectations of the desired result. I would just be, act and live in each moment with no expectation that life needs to turn out somehow. (This is the hardest part though :)).
It works regardless of what the adversity is. Whether it is minor argument with someone; getting fired, getting sick or anything else. This mechanism anchors you in the now, brings relief and turns your focus to yourself, to things you do, what is good in your life, what makes you excited.
It is a simple formula that brings us back to basics when things become crappy, gets us through those times and shows us that there are always more facets to life, regardless how some of them may appear to be hard.
I would be curious to hear how you go about hard times and life stresses? Let me know here