When life doesn’t go according to your plan (and it does happen to everyone) you will surely feel some form of stress. You have probably been looking forward to something or you had hopes and now it doesn’t work out. In other words: Life has other plans. But life can be a kind teacher as well – if we learn to understand it’s language.
Is Life truly the Way It Appears?
In a challenging situation we can for example learn to let go, embrace fear and develop trust. Life might not be as “bad” and “dangerous” as we often think. Ask yourself this question: “Does the way I have learned to think about life have something to do with the way it appears?”
Most pain we experience comes from the desire to be in control when things go a different way. We are unable to let go and move on. We are then often stuck to an image in our mind which shows us how it “should be” or “could have been”. This image will sometimes connect to an idea of low self-esteem and we would feel stupid, guilty and ashamed. “I shouldn’t have been so stupid” or “I could have done it more cleverly”.
Notice these processes. While observing them know that they are merely learned responses. And they don’t help much in this case – their result is often a miserable feeling. Once you feel miserable it will become more difficult to transform the situation at hand skillfully. Realizing that you could have done certain things in a different way can also help you to see it as a learning process. However if we have learned to connect an event that doesn’t go according to our plan with the concept of “personal failure” than it might become harder to receive the blessings of a challenging situation.
3 Powerful Reflections
Instead of focusing on what “could” or “should have been” done in combination with the idea of self-worth I recommend to step back and experiment a bit with these steps:
1. Become aware of where in the body you feel the suffering and simply watch it for a little while. Allow yourself to feel it – it is there. It is not out of place. It feels like this. It is there for you to see and comprehend it and it is also there for you to grow.
2. Learn to gradually embrace it with a warm feeling of kindness, like a mother who holds her child when it cries. Every feeling has it’s place. Watch the feeling slowly fade by itself. Give it the time it needs to dissolve. Avoid “making” it dissolve – simply leave it as it is until it fades by itself. Some feelings take longer than others.
3. Now direct your attention towards the truth that you are always free to act right now. How you act right now in this moment is the foundation of your future. If you act with understanding, kindness and basic trust in the goodness of life you will soon feel less worried and are able to embrace life as a friend.
When we see life as something to manage, control and dominate we will often feel out of control and alone. When life becomes our friend we are often able to cope with it’s ways in a much more beneficial and skillful way. Life also directly responds to the way you think and feel so the best way to “manage” life is by becoming more conscious of your internal processes. Once you are able to receive the various teachings of life, you will also be in a good position to receive meditation teachings properly.