When the going gets tough...we have the opportunity to overcome or succumb.
There is often beauty at the end of a grueling, hard-fought uphill climb - as evidenced by the breathtaking views from mountain tops, our first introduction to new babies, or a sunrise that washes over the clouds clearing your mind for even a split second. Our roots run deep when overcoming adversity and there is no “one size fits all” remedy to hardship - we’re all different. So, when faced with an ever-flowing river of challenges (like, say, 2020 in general) what can we do to stay above water?
To begin, it’s important to understand where our resiliency comes from. Deep down, right beside that critical inside voice that yearns for a break, is your ability to harness resilience and perseverance. It’s a part of you that activates instantaneously, like a stoplight waiting to shine green.
When teaching children how to be resilient, we encourage acknowledging feelings and focusing on positive emotions. What are you grateful for in this moment? What have you learned? What about this makes you sad? Acknowledging the present, aka practicing mindfulness, provides us the opportunity to face these hardships honestly and upfront, breaking down our vulnerability walls and forcing us to move forward. And isn’t that the first step of a resilient attitude - moving forward despite what’s holding us back?
The next step to treading through hardship is compassion. Compassion for others, for yourself, and for the situation at hand. Buddhist teachings incorporate the idea that life is an echo - what you put out in the world, you ultimately receive. This belief is not meant to guide you to “thinking positively.” You cannot overcome simply with positivity. The reality is, hard stuff sucks - but you have the tools to come out of these low times with more perseverance and capability than before. When you stop and give yourself time to grieve, time to be sad, time to dwell - you’re acknowledging your feelings, appreciating your honest self, and trusting your will to power through. What an awesome set of tools you possess in your subconscious! The trick is tapping into those innate tools when you need them most.
Lastly, take some time for yourself. Your mental health is the gateway to physical well-being, so give yourself a much-needed break from the daily grind with a long walk in the woods, an afternoon listening to music in the park, a bubble bath, a new podcast, an old book, a long bike ride. Give yourself time to feel, time to reset, and most of all, time to just be.
When it feels like you can’t possibly tread water any longer, actively imagine that resiliency switch inside of you. It’s there, it’s hardwired, and it’s ready to step up to the plate for you. You have what it takes to power up to that breathtaking view that’s patiently waiting for you - so take it one step at a time and put some faith into the world.
Future you will be so grateful.