We all experience periods of turmoil in our lives. Sometimes it is an event such as the loss of a loved one, being fired from a job, or a breakup. Or, sometimes we feel like we are in an existential crisis – unable to deal with something within our own internal existence. This may be a lack of purpose or direction, general depression or anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts.
The thought that ‘this too shall pass’ has gained popularity. It is a Buddhist principle, and through the expansion of Buddhist thought and religion throughout the world, passivity in the face of adversity has become a relatively common approach to coping.
LiveLifeKingSize would like to point out the issue with this kind of thinking and offer a solution.
The fundamental issue with ‘this too shall pass’ is that it is not rooted in any kind of reality. It is just a thought. It may be the experience of some that things tend to pass, but this is superficial as well. When, in the face of adversity, you tell yourself that the situation will run over in time, you do a host of questionable things to your psycho-emotional existence:
- You distance yourself from the situation. This neither solves it, nor leaves you open to learning from the situation.
- You move your identity away from the situation and into the past or the future. By dwelling on the memory of having experienced turmoil that had come to pass, you dwell on the past and do not deal honestly with the situation. Or by simply telling yourself that ‘this too shall pass’, you place your sense of self into a potential future in which this too has passed.
- You numb yourself. By creating a mantra and repeating it, you hypnotize yourself into a belief of a better future. You shut yourself down mentally and emotionally.
- ‘This too shall pass’ shall also soon pass. By the same logic, this coping mechanism or mantra will eventually lose its efficacy. What will you do then to cope?
Better to start learning how to cope with adversity now, because some day you will have to do so.
The best way to deal with a difficult situation is hidden in a paradox of life. ‘Dealing’ with a situation means that you seek to solve it – you believe that life has given you something that is not good as it is and needs to be changed. Not dealing, on the other hand, is ignoring what is happening in your life and will only lead to deeper suffering.
The answer is to learn to be.
What does it mean to be? How does one ‘be’ with a situation?
One cannot be until one can give undivided attention to something in a sustained manner. This does not mean that you can ‘focus’ or ‘be attentive’. It is a revolutionary learning that is born of practice. The practice is to learn to be inattentive to the things that do not matter now – and to develop the wisdom to decide what these things are. Attention is formed of energy. We all have attention and the capacity to give our undivided attention – it is just that we have never practiced controlling it. We have forever allowed our energy and attention to be lost in thoughts, emotions, fantasies and dreams. It is no wonder then, that even when we try to be attentive, we don’t have enough energy to actually give a person or situation our undivided attention. Within seconds we become lost in our thoughts, impressions, judgements, emotions, etc.
To learn to be is to learn how to be. It is no special way of being or mental gymnastics – it is an open secret. Our natural way of being is to have enough attention to deal with the difficult situations in our lives. We have, quite naturally as well, lost this ability as we got involved in taking care of our lives.
It requires a little active disconnection from what we perceive to be our lives and a little meditation. Then, you can relearn to be.
Then, you can simply be attentive to your difficult experiences and feelings.
Finally, you learn that life doesn’t throw anything at you that you can’t cope with. The answer is always hidden in the question. You learn to cope with a situation from the situation itself. Because you are intelligent. Intelligence is the stuff that your awareness is made of.
Learn to be aware and learn to be. You will not need to resort to meaningless mantras and idioms, or drugs or addictions to cope. You can face life and its difficulties with the natural talent that you have always had.