Updated: May 21, 2020
6 lessons on how to survive and thrive during the difficult times. You can maintain your inner strength even when you are weathering a storm.
Out of nowhere, comes news that sends your world into chaos. The next thing you know, life as you knew it is crumbling, and coming apart.
The first human reaction is to panic, feel sorry for yourself and desperately want to run and hide. At least that was my reaction when my world suddenly fell apart.
One day, in what seemed like a bad dream, a close family member was diagnosed with cancer.
My life started to spiral out of control, I had no clue how to manage myself. I was lost to a full time job of panic, fear and worry.
What I did not know at the time is that just because our lives may be falling apart, it doesn’t mean that we have to follow suit and fall apart as well.
In fact, it's during the most difficult times that we can build the character and inner strength that will carry us to our greatest life adventures.
If you are now or have in the past experienced a devastating time in your life, you know that you can easily fall into victimhood. You can ask yourself "WHY ME?", you can believe that you are being punished, that God is out to get you, and maybe even that you deserve this...all of these thoughts are mind constructs that set you up to believe you are a victim.
It is important to note that these thoughts are NOT TRUE. They are normal human reactions to pain and loss, but they are not true. Even, if everyone in your life is feeling sorry for you. You don't have to be a victim of your circumstances.
Only you can decide whether to reduce yourself to the level of your circumstances or to elevate yourself to the level of your potential.
My hope is that someone that is currently in the midst of their living hell will be able to find peace in the following lessons.
These are 6 real life lessons I learned during my difficult times, and you can use them now if your world is falling apart and you want to keep yourself from falling with it.
1. This Too Shall Pass
This is one of the greatest mantras you can repeat when you are suffering. As Deepak Chopra states "a mantra can be thought of as a seed for energizing an intention". Believing that it will not always be this hard is a critical element in finding peace amongst the chaos. Once I learned of this miracle saying, I found a great deal of peace while experiencing circumstances of pain and suffering. Repeat this saying as often as you can. You can repeat it out loud or in your mind. I found when I was free to repeat it out loud it really elevated my sense of peace.
2. Accept What Is
Accepting what is happening right now is the fastest way to find peace. Now, let me clarify what acceptance is NOT because this is so commonly misunderstood.
Acceptance does NOT mean:
Having to like what is
Giving up and resigning yourself to victimhood
Keeping yourself from taking action to change
Acceptance simply means allowing what is happening in your body and mind to be as is in the present moment. It means you end your inner war of conflict on how you should feel, or what you should do. You pay attention to what’s arising in your present moment experience. You put any story about your feelings aside, and you welcome the fear, the sadness, the shame...whatever feelings are arising at the moment.
Be sure not to analyze anything or try to problem-solve, simply welcome the feelings that are present. It is best to practice acceptance by sitting in a quiet space and noticing the sensations present in your body.
Please remember that acceptance is a practice, simply sitting in acceptance for a few minutes one time will not give you permanent results.
3. Breathe Now
It may sound simplistic, but please do take a breath right now. A slow inhale and exhale. Often, in the face of panic we hold our breath. It is best to take slow breaths to help calm your nervous system. In the face of difficult situations, it is the nervous system that will be the most sensitized. This was my biggest challenge during the time my loved one was diagnosed with cancer. I did not know any better, so all I did was react. I reacted with full force and I had no resources to calm my nervous system. After a few months my nervous system became so accustomed to the constant attacks that I personally developed severe anxiety.
There is a great deal of scientific evidence proving the benefits mindful breathing. If it intrigues you, take a further read on the physiology behind your breathing in this Psychology Today article.
4. Gain Perspective
It’s okay to suffer and have tough times in life. You may be feeling that you are the only one suffering and your life will never again be good. This is simply not true.
Expecting life to be perfect at all times is unrealistic. Everything is nature changes constantly. Flowers bloom beautifully in the spring and they die naturally in the fall. The ocean waves are constantly rising up and crashing. Life is a roller coaster ride. It is safe for you to feel pain as much as it is safe for you to feel joy.
Your intention shouldn’t be to go thru life without feeling any pain, but rather to live fully with courage and hope.
5. Save Your tomorrows for Tomorrow
When your mind is worrying about the future, you will never find peace. No matter the situation you are facing, there will be some moments that are better than others. Staying present in the moment without adding the stress of worry will give you more moments of peace.
In my experience, I found spending time in a hospital waiting room while my loved one was in surgery the absolute worst of all. I realize now that I created a much more difficult time for myself, because I was sitting there making up all kinds of stories and potential future scenarios and worrying.
I am by no means saying that I don't worry at all anymore...I wish that were true. What I have learned to do is recognize the moment that my mind is in the future playing out some scary scenario, and as I recognize it I remind myself of the present moment. Even if you go right back to worrying a few minutes later, do not underestimate the power of even a few seconds of being present.
Also, do not judge yourself or beat yourself up for worrying. When you find yourself worrying, just be grateful that you recognized it, come back to the present moment for as along as you can hold the attention on the present and then repeat this pattern over and over.
It can be difficult to give up worrying because it's usually a lifelong pattern of thinking that's become so automatic you're not even completely aware of it.
Often, what keeps you stuck in the pattern of worrying is the belief that worrying protects you in some way or that worrying will lead you to find solutions to your problems. If you want to reduce the worry, you will need to let go of the belief that worrying serves a positive purpose. Once you truly stand in that awareness, you will worry less and less over time.
6. Find Something to Be Grateful For
Life is always better when you can appreciate something. It is during the difficult times that we have to try harder to find things to be grateful for. If you can't think of anything in your life, look at all the beauty around you. Look to nature for its magnificence and you will feel better. If you can, go out and be in nature. Do this as often as you can, if even just for a few minutes.
Be thankful for all the small things in your life. I mean small, try appreciating a warm cup of tea/coffee. Find the tiny pieces of your life that are still there to be appreciated. You may need to work at gratitude, because your natural reaction in the midst of crisis is to shut down your heart. Keep in mind that it’s not the circumstances that makes us happy, but gratefulness that makes us happy.
What lessons have you learned during your difficult times? Share your insights in the comment section below.
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Wishing you love, joy and peace,