They say that “perception is reality,” and can’t argue with that. Except, perception is just that: perception. It is crucial to see beyond perceived reality and recognize what is REALLY happening in (ideally) every moment of our lives. Developing this skill of awareness helps us navigate difficult moments with grace. Without the knowledge gained through self-awareness, our existence on this planet can descend into a hellish state. Bitterness and self-loathing will start to become the default mode in our brain.
The “why me?” question, as if only you will face difficulty in life, can persist. As COVID-19 also showed to the world, we all will face hardship, and no one will escape unscathed.
There’s a strong belief by many that life should be easy – that we should be able to waltz through our 70 to 100 years on this planet without difficulties and heartaches. I have no idea why that belief seems to thrive in modern times. It strikes me as very naïve and foolish logic.
All human beings are born, age, and eventually die. The lucky ones age gracefully and do not experience significant health issues before their life ends. However, for many, the decline in both physical and mental health that comes with aging is anything but easy. This does not even include tragedies that life might dump on us that completely derail the earthly journey we envisioned for ourselves (accidents, diseases, natural disasters, etc.).
The pain of existence increases due to an expectation of the “Hollywood ending.” The belief that our lives will all work out in the end, and everything will have somehow make sense and have a logical explanation at the climax of our story.
In the real world, outcomes will differ for people based on their choices and a myriad of external or not-choice relate factors, such as the environment we were born in, culture, education, genetics, socio economic status, etc.. Believing that nothing uncomfortable should impact our moments belies common sense.
Embracing the full story of the human saga, the comfortable, uncomfortable, and neutral, is a start to making existence bearable. The uncomfortable lingers in the mind longer than the comfortable and neutral. From an evolutionary standpoint, our ancestors who survived long enough to reproduce were more vigilant in knowing and planning how to deal with a saber-toothed tiger instead of a rabbit. Protect self from one, hunt the other.
Although pain is more memorable, taking time to accept it all, will at least help us avoid making matters worse. Avoidance, denial, or other maladaptive responses we take in the moment only delays dealing with the harsh realities you are facing – real or perceived. Can’t run away from it; wherever in the world you’d try to hide, it follows you, till you decide to deal with it.
When we accept this truth, it can direct our lives in the right direction. The decisions we make will not come from resentment but gratitude for opportunities that we enjoy; and even for the opportunities that we might not enjoy in the moment, in the long run might help us grow or otherwise turn out into gifts.
We can all agree that we have some control over how we “show up” in the world. Many of the principles and beliefs that guide our actions and how we invest our time were cast upon us as children; as adults we can reevaluate these beliefs, and for some this can start from a place of curiosity:
What is it that I stand for?
What gives me meaning?
What defines my existence?
Once the answers to these questions have become clear, it will impact our entire inner and outer world, including the way we show up in the world – including how we communicate with those around us. From then on the way you speak will come from a place of authenticity.
Speaking the words you truly believe and not what you think everyone expects of you is vital and will become effortless. It develops an honest relationship with your experience of life itself, serving as a foundation for your connections with self and everyone around you.
Speaking the truth will allow you to live life in accordance with your chosen belief system. Acting in a manner devoid of destructive methods can mitigate the likelihood that unmanageable chaos will find a home in our lives.
As mentioned earlier, life will not always be pleasant, nor can our behavior guarantee we will not experience tragedy. However, one determines whether the situation goes from difficult to hell itself. From this decision, to refuse to succumb to a mental prison, our focus can move toward a more noble thinking to better ourselves and others.
Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!