- the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
- the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity”1
When you’re in the throws of difficulty, it can be tough to activate acceptance or resilience, unless you’ve spent time practicing. Yes, we need to practice acceptance and letting go.
Sometimes, during difficult and dark periods, we can explore new ways of thinking and being to cope. This year especially, I’ve explored this terrain – beyond typical travel delays, runway closures, system failures, and work drama. This year supplied its share of “practice” with family tragedy, home hospice, death, interpersonal drama, personal health crises, and more.
Through it all, I’ve learned how dangerous stress can be and how ‘breathing deep’ is an imperative for us all. Life once again reminds that our greatest torments can become our greatest teachers.
But it’s best to get a head start! Train your brain now for a healthy mindset to cope with the day-to-day and larger dramas of life. Below are suggested tactics and reminders. As with anything: Try it, then take what works and toss the rest. Just because a tactic works for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll jive with you, and vice versa.
- Their behavior, actions, reactions, and treatment of you always say more about them than You. Remember this especially when someone’s being overly harsh or even cruel. Someone working to hurt you is seriously hurting inside, themselves. We often never know the extent of the hurt and trouble of others.
- Look for the lesson. Find the lesson from your interactions. You may find new self-awareness and identify similar behavioral tendencies in yourself. Or perhaps you discover a new productive way to positively respond in the moment. At a minimum, there’s at least one ‘aha’ in how not to do something. 😉 Find and acknowledge the lesson to avoid your own future folly.
- Practice cultivating compassion. Even if only a brief thought experiment, see yourself taking compassion on the difficult person. This can be tough – especially in the face of unfair or poor treatment. Try seeing yourself in the other person – their struggle, their hopes, and their gaps.
1. Slow down and practice present moment acceptance. Certain situations and life chapters simply suck. There’s no escape – it’s hard. This is how it is. Learn to acknowledge and accept “what is”. This doesn’t mean be a passive a doormat and let life run you over. This doesn’t even mean what happened is O-K. It’s more about eliminating internal resistance to the moment, which only causes more duress. Make peace with the situation by creating more peace within yourself.
- A simple daily practice for present moment acceptance is to sit quietly and merely observe your thoughts, letting them come and go like clouds – and not following any thoughts (Return to start again when you notice yourself running after a thought or two, no problem). Accept any thoughts or feelings as they are. Notice and accept any itches or pains. Simply sit and focus on the itches or pains in stillness for some time before you move or make any actual adjustments – if they end up necessary. The idea here is that if you can begin to fully accept yourself in the present moment – the good and bad of your mind, thoughts, feelings, etc – then you’ll be better able to fully accept those difficult people and difficult situations in life.
- A somewhat counter approach is to allow yourself to “soak in the suck” for a defined amount of time (e.g. 2-5 minutes, or more as needed). Alone in a safe space, have it all out – face and feel the full intensity of your feelings, pain, anger, grief, and fear. The point is to aim for a cathartic purge – to go deep, to acknowledge and to deeply focus on your frustration, but to contain it and move on after the time is up. Often easier said than done – going deep brings out even more intense feelings, and that’s precisely the point. FEEL it, give your emotions their due time, and then let them go. Don’t forget to set a timer and stick to it, lest you spiral into ever-escalating “suck”! And yes, there are times in life when there isn’t a sound-proof room big enough. Use this tactic only when and as helpful to you.
2. Optimize your present moment experience. With full attention, what can you do, say, or think to make NOW better? Each moment (no matter how “sucky”) is an opportunity to exist and create from a more-fully-present self.
For more reading on Stress and “Breathing Deep”, check out:
Don’t fall prey to the stress cascade (3-minute read)
The key to serenity NOW (under 1-minute read)
A surprising cause of illness, and what to do about it (2-minute read)
Breathe Deep, A sound mind for keep (under 1-minute read)
Is your work pre-maturely aging you or worse (2-minute read)
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