Tom is a teacher & therapist.
Twelve Tips for Dealing with Adversity
Surviving the Hero’s Journey
Pain and adversity can come in a thousand different flavours, each with its own unique expression and challenges. Learning to successfully navigate these obstacles is at the heart of our own personal evolution. As we become more comfortable with adversity we get better at dealing with, overcoming and transcending our troubles. For those of you are suffering on your journey I’ve put together my key suggestions to help you along your way This is your journey and your challenges are significant and relevant.
Reserve Judgment: It’s so easy to jump to conclusions about your health and life circumstances. We say things like this is awful, this is bad, my life is ruined, this is terrible etc etc. We are constantly feeding ourselves stories and thoughts, most if all of them are not true. Learning to stop judging your life circumstances will help you to settle back into the challenges you face.
Let go of your story: Most people have a general story about their life. The story basically covers who they are, what sort of life they have, what type of people they hang out with, the ego loves to weave and narrate. Maybe your story involves being successful, or liked, or being smart. Whatever it is, when we hit the land of true suffering our story is very quickly challenged. Did you know that there is no set plan to how your life is supposed to go. We can get attached to our story and Learning to let go of it, will make it easier to transform and usher in the future. You are not defined by your career, or relationship, your social network, you are beyond them all.
Slow Down: We can live hectic lives, we are so busy pushing for the next goal, the next horizon. Maybe you’re always socializing, maybe you have a successful career, maybe you’re always doing something. Suffering asks us to slow down. We live in a world of yang energy. Yang is always doing, always active. Suffering leads us into the land of Yin, the land of the quiet, the land of the soft, the subtle, the gentle and the slow. Learn to appreciate the tones of Yin. Slowing down offers a different perspective of life which can shift your experience.
What are you learning? It’s easy to feel like a victim in these situations, thinking life is unfair, and possibly blaming other people. This isn’t an empowering context or conducive to learning. Asking questions like what am I learning from this? How am I growing from this? What is life teaching me? How is this situation helping me? These questions are at the heart of making the most out of your challenges? These questions will help you thrive in the pressure cooker of suffering, and ultimately transform your experience of your journey.
See the Benefits: The ego loves to think it knows what’s best for you. It thinks it knows where you should be, and where you shouldn’t be. It probably thinks suffering is bad and should be avoided at all costs. What I have found is that my suffering has changed my life for the better. The world has taught us that suffering is bad, but maybe it is the perfect medicine to heal us. Maybe it is the perfect challenge designed to help us along our way. Spend some time thinking about all the benefits your suffering is bringing you.
Face your Fears: Suffering will bring up your most scary fears whatever they may be. Maybe fears of death or loneliness, fears around loosing your job or your home, maybe you’re terrified of the future in general. Whatever your fears are, learn to face them. Once you have faced what you are afraid of then you no longer need to live in fear. As humans, we spend most of our time avoiding our fears, suffering can mean we can’t run any longer, and most likely it will bring in front of your deepest and most terrifying fears. Courage !
Understand Scale: Map your symptoms onto a scale from 1-10. Find out what your max suffering is 10, and your minimum 1. Notice how you can take your suffering from a 10 to a 9, then learn to get it down from a 9 to and 8, and an 8 to a 7 and so on. Learn to nudge your experience 1 point on the scale.
Stop fighting: As humans we tend to argue with reality. We complain when things aren’t going our way. We want things to go as we plan. Suffering has no interest in what we want or don’t want, it takes us on a path of its own. Learn to stop arguing with reality. Instead, let go and go with the flow.
Breathe: Through my darkest times, breathing was the main thing that helped me to survive. Deep Belly breathing through the nostrils helped to center my energy, and survive the Armageddon of mental and physical phenomena.
Listen to your Body: You will speak to experts, doctors, friends and family. All will have their own opinions and views. Ultimately the only person who can walk the path of hell is you.Ultimately nobody can truly knowwhat it’s like except you. Learn to listen to your body, listen to what helps, listen to what makes it feel better. Learn to honour what it’s telling you. Your feedback is more important than the most expert doctors.
Emotional Responsibility : From ancient philosophy to modern CBT, we know that although we can’t control many elements of our lives, we do have a role to play in managing our emotions and our reactions. No matter what is happening for you, you get a say in how you react and respond. In this we have access to emotional freedom. Life can be hard and tough, but you get to choose how you experience it. Learning emotional responsibility is a muscle that takes time to build.
Journey of you: Choose to see your life and challenges as an adventure. See them as tests designed to help you grow and evolve in a particular way. See yourself as the hero, overcoming adversity and showing true courage. Understand that how you react matters, it matters now and for your future. Trust that there are no mistakes. Trust that’s what happening is in alignment with your best interests. Trust there is a greater plan, beyond what you can see that ultimately is helping shape and curate your life for the better. Trust that things will work themselves out sooner or later.
The journey can take a while, know that as you walk your path you are learning, growing and evolving. Take comfort in the fact that whatever happens you are making inner progress. Stay strong.