Part of the puzzle of pursuing a path that is meaningful to us involves learning to weather the tough times. I’ve had my fair share and I’m sure have many, many storms waiting for me around the bend. These few things help me to keep going when the going gets rough:
- I look for the good. Every situation, no matter how difficult, has something good about it. A friend rises up to help in a way I never expected. I gain more compassion for other people who go through tough times. There’s always some light in the darkness.
- I make sure I learn what go me into the tough situation and what will get me out. As long as I learn something to help me avoid making the same mistake again, I think of it as a win.
- I stop. When I face a challenge, I step back and ask myself if I really carry enough about the end goal to keep going. This reflection helps me to understand my priorities.
- I let myself feel really bad. Buddhism teaches us that the only way to move through adversity is to feel the full range of emotions it brings – anger, fear, sadness, disappointment, rage, etc. We have to give ourselves room to feel anything and everything that arises. Only after I’m truly done with those emotions do I pick up and try again. Don’t put a timeline on that process. Sometimes I bounce back almost immediately and sometimes it takes much longer than I’d like it to take. Emotions are like that. They can’t be forced to do anything. They just are. We have a right to all of our feelings and it’s healthy to exercise them.
Failure and disappointment are a part of every life. I don’t know a single person alive who’s ever gotten every single thing they ever wanted. When I fail or when I’m disappointed, I eventually remind myself that this means I tried to reach for something that meant a lot to me. I tried and in the process, I lived. When I look back, I’d rather have a life filled with “oh well” rather than a life filled with “what if”.