Life has a way of hitting us upside the head when we least expect it. Sometimes we stumble. Other times we fall and struggle to get back up again.
Some people never do.
Battered by circumstance, they become bitter and angry or depressed and despondent. An indescribable ache fills their hearts. A cloudy haze drapes their minds in indifference to anything but their own pain. Even their souls seem to become worn, ripped, ragged and broken.
Others, however, seem to bounce back relatively quickly. They crash and hurt and cry and scream like everyone else, for sure. But they don’t seem to remain curled up and beat up for very long. They rise to their feet and start walking forward again.
What’s the difference between the two reactions to pain and tragedy? Why do some people weather the storms of life better than others?
Notable Quotables: Below are quoted insights into the condition of adversity from some of the blogosphere’s most insightful authors.
They reveal some of those differences and point us in a direction that will help you regain your emotional footing even in the midst of life’s most violent storms.
Note: Their quotes here, however, do not mean they would necessarily agree with what I add.
1. Joe Wilner at Shake Off the Grind
“In the journey to have a radiant soul, there will be moments when we are tested and our will is tried. Perseverance is necessary and we must stay dedicated to this desire if we are to succeed.”
Call it what you will – God, Life, the Universe, Mother Nature, happenstance, whatever – this life is a testing ground. We are being stretched, tried and challenged to rise from where we’re at to travel the distance needed to get to where we could be.
Whether we’re tested doesn’t seem to be at issue. All of us will be to one degree or another. When and how it will come seems at best to be of secondary importance as well. What happens will happen, after all.
But there are some profoundly important questions to ask (and answer!): When it comes, for instance, will I be prepared to persevere and weather the storm? Do I have the moral muscle fiber to stand tall when life is beating me up? Or if the beating is just too violent (and sometimes it is), do I have the emotional grit necessary to stand again once the beating has stopped?
Developing the courage, the perseverance, the commitment to stay the course and the will equal to the violence of the trial can help keep us focused and able to struggle back to our feet when the world and all of heaven seems to be scraping and scratching at the flesh of our bleeding hearts.
2. Srinivas Rao who blogs at The Skool of Life as guest posted at The Change Blog
“I found that this one simple question can dramatically change your interpretation of every experience. When you ask yourself the question what’s possible as opposed to how am I going to get out of this mess, a world of potential options open up to you.”
Our perceptions of things makes all the difference to how we deal with our challenges. Do we see ourselves as victim to an abusive and vindictive universe? Or do we see pain and adversity as a normal part of the experience called life?
If when trials come, your eye is transfixed singly on escape, there will be lessons left unlearned and values left cracked or shattered on the concrete of compromise and expediency as we look for ways out of the messes we or others or life have created.
Better questions will be left unasked. Potential therefore left untapped. Opportunity for growth left unrecognized.
Three Alternative Approaches:
1) Accept the inevitability of pain and tribulation. Don’t resent it or even necessarily resist it. Trials will come. Challenges will descend. Never seek trials for the lessons they teach, but don’t get caught impotently screaming to the heavens, “Why me?!” either.
Each of us will experience some of life’s grittiest, ugliest and hardest circumstances to endure. We age and loved ones die and cancer ravages and accidents happen and people are people who betray and disappoint at times. But, in the end, we grow most when we climb the mountains of adversity, developing moral muscle we didn’t know we had. And that’s just what we’re here for.
2) Seek the lesson being taught. Look for what life is trying to uncover about you, about life or human nature. Ask yourself these four questions: 1) What can I learn from this? 2) What do these difficulties reveal to me about my strengths or weaknesses? 3) Where is life or God pointing me? 4) What opportunities are being revealed to me? (this was Srinivas’ insightful question)
3) Know this too shall pass. No matter how bleak the horizon may appear to you now, there will be a time when you can look back at this moment as a distant memory. Keep focused on that fact, that there will be an end. Sometimes the most painful part of weathering a storm is the sense that the storm will last forever. It won’t. And knowing that can help.
3. Barrie Davenport of Live Bold and Bloom
“You can’t predict most life events, so trying to control your life and those around you only breeds fear, anxiety, and unhappiness. Instead, recognize and acknowledge that mostly good things happen to you. Put your time and energy into enjoying those moments.”
It is seemingly a quirk of human nature to amplify the miserable and deemphasize the quietly nice and pleasant in life. As our minds review the day or week, we often skim by the smiles and hugs and little generosities we regularly experience, stopping at the angry tone, the rude comment and insensitive remark made by others.
But that’s not an accurate interpretation of life. Think about yesterday. Some bad stuff may have happened. But if you were to walk through the day, minute by minute, I bet almost every single one of you experienced more good than bad.
Sure, the bad feeling from such encounters may have stayed with you. But the reality of the day is not likely the “reality” your memory created. So create a more accurate reflection of the day and feel glad for all the good that happened to you too!
4. Henrik Edberg of The Positivity Blog
“Imagine the worst scenario and then try to create a plan how you could get on your feet again if that scenario, against all probability, should happen. You’ll then most often realize that whatever your fear is you could probably get back on your feet and back to your normal life pretty quickly once again.”
Imagination can be our greatest friend (a la Einstein and Disney). But it can also be our greatest enemy as we conjure up images of the worst kind that breeds fear in our hearts and lead in our feet.
So developing a game plan for the very darkest scenarios your imagination can conjure up is a valuable tool for overcoming the obstacles of fear, worry and anxiety over all the vivid possibilities of failure and collapse imaginable.
Traveling through a strange land without street signs can be a daunting and scary challenge. But doing it with a roadmap and a plan is much less so.
5. Barrie Davenport of Live Bold and Bloom
“Of all of the bad things that have happened, the worst by far is living in fear of bad things happening. Living in fear is the most debilitating, energy-draining, and painful existence of all. It’s like the steady drip, drip, drip of water torture.”
Fear is the great immobilizer. It locks up the tires of our desire and causes us to skid to a stop on the side of life’s road, sometimes lying belly-up in a ditch! There are so many possible scenarios whereby everything in our lives crashes down on us. But there are countless scenarios that paint a much happier picture, one of adventure and possibility and immense joy as well. The paralysis of fear guarantees failure. When we fail to step, we fail to move. When we fail to move, the pools of our lives become stagnant.
The alternative to action is inaction. But if failure is guaranteed by inaction, you might as well take the step into your fears. Remember, courage is not the absence of fear. It is the willingness to do what needs to be done despite that fear.
6. Frank Jennings of A Spark Starts
“I do not care what, who, when, or how often life tries to take you down a path you did not intend to go. If you feel the pressure and things are not going the way they should, CHANGE DIRECTION.”
Sometimes life tries us. When we persevere, we build moral and emotional muscles that help us over the next bump in the road of life. At other times, however, we are just knocking our heads against a wall, getting bruised and bloodied and need to stop.
Knowing the difference between the two conditions is where wisdom and insight and foresight become particularly important. Knowing ourselves intimately helps. Knowing the nature or cause of the trial helps too.
But ultimately, the decision for a course change has to reside in you. Just remember to consider others who may be affected by that change in direction. Sometimes such considerations should have no impact. Sometimes they should. But either way, they shouldn’t be ignored.
Do you feel battered and bruised by life? Are you suffering heartbreak and heartache? Does fear keep you pinned in the corner of your own life? Are you trapped by circumstance?
Most of the time, most of our challenges can be reduced if not completely transformed with a few changes in the way we think and interpret and perceive things. At other times, we may need more help. I encourage you to get it professionally if that’s the case.
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Please share your thoughts in the comments below
- What challenges have you overcome?
- What challenges do you have now?
- What have you done that has helped you through them?
- We all benefit when you share your experiences.
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