Maintaining Your Balance in Uncertain Times
Life is uncertain and hard. Yet, life at its most difficult is liberating and good. It calls us to our best and most determined self. It separates us from our stuff so that our true self is able to emerge. It enables us to differentiate that which is of lasting value from things with temporary satisfaction. It separates the overcomer from the ones who are overcome. It weeds out the weak and tests the strong to make them stronger. It is impartial neither aiding nor opposing anyone. It requires us to overcome the odds to survive and greater odds to thrive. We must master ourselves to rise above our circumstance, and experience being truly free.
We are more than the total of all that we possess. We may have a sense of this truth during good times but it takes trying times to cause us either to rise to our best or to slump into a self-indulgent belief that our life is harder and sadder than everyone else’s. Contrast and comparison to others distract from the mastery of self and divert creativity and motivation from the challenge to overcome and to thrive. We are not as compared to anyone. The ways that we are similar pale in contrast with the ways we are unique.
Each of us stands alone facing the task of navigating the blustering winds and the swirling currents of life around us. How then do we manage stress and worry?
Exercise the Power to Decide: Our course through life is determined by the decisions we make. While influences beckon us and try to alter or shape our direction, it is our decisions which set our course. Ella Wheeler Wilcox summed this up saying,
One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.
Take Nothing Personally: What others do may cause us pleasure or pain but the decisions we make are what separate us. When the words or behaviors of others wound us, the immediate tendency is to react with words and behaviors which cause equal or greater pain. This is unfortunate because such reactions give the other person the power, in that moment, to determine what we think, feel and how we will behave. The rudeness or cruelty of the other person is not about us. It is about the other person. We are impacted by their behavior but not the cause of it. If we respond to our desire to counter attack, we look and behave like the offender. We join their misbehavior and become part of the problem. This is taking as personal that which is not. We are temporarily the object of the other person’s misbehavior which is unpleasant but it will pass unless we join the other person’s misconduct.
Do Not Take Yourself Too Seriously: Tough times touch everyone like a rising tide lifts all boats. Some are better prepared for the tough times while others, already in difficult straits, seem to be overcome by the difficulties sweeping their direction. Tragedies, loss of health, death of a loved one, loss of a job, the destruction of a divorce are illustrative of individual gauntlets to run. For some it feels like the world has turned on them and they anguish, “Why me?” They believe that they alone have been selected to endure this great suffering while others appear to be untouched by such grief. Life is indifferent. Falling rain differentiates not who will get wet. A tsunami washes over all in its path. An earthquake shakes and destroys all under its power. An epidemic attacks everyone vulnerable to its poison. Rather than wallow in the despair of tragedy and loss, look up and seize the opportunities that tragedy, difficult times, and grief offer you. There are opportunities in every crisis or tragedy for those with eyes to see them. Many have eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear. It takes eyes willing to see to recognize that loss is a preparation to gain anew.
Your life is a journey. The present circumstance will pass. The past is an asset for reference. The future is yours to define and create. It is potential waiting to be formed. But life is clay molded and shaped either by bitterness and defeat or wisdom and courage.
Dr. Orville E. Easterly
Copyright 2011 – Dr. Orville E. Easterly All Rights Reserved – Do not copy.