“Didn’t Chains tell you about the Golden Theological Principle?”
“The single congruent aspect of every known religion. The one shared, universal assumption about the human condition.”
“What is it?”
“He said that life boils down to standing in line to get shit dropped on your head. Everyone’s got a place in the queue, you can’t get out of it, and just when you start to congratulate yourself on surviving your dose of shit, you discover that line is actually circular.”
– Scott Lynch (The Republic of Thieves)
Ever feel like all the work you do, the passion you give, and the time you spend just isn’t worth it? After all, what’s the point if shit is just going to happen, anyway? Why should you care anymore? And if you don’t care, why should others? It’s maddening, isn’t it?
Reading and listening to other people extoll the virtues of positive thinking, hearing them give you encouragement, and having them urge you to follow something akin to the Law of Attraction might be stimulating the first, second and even third times you hear them. Maybe you’ll even put some of the self-help tips and tricks into action, yourself, the fourth and fifth times you hear a morale boost from others. Perhaps it finally sinks in.
But eventually, the shit’s going to happen. How are you supposed to get through the tough times? Is all the self-help, self-talk enough to see you through?
Look, I know that you want there to be a deeper meaning behind things that happen. I get it. But, the truth is that we, as humans, can’t always see or understand that deeper meaning of things. It’s not that the deeper meaning isn’t there. It’s just that the apparent randomness of it all makes us stressed, angry, sad, and vulnerable. We fear there is no meaning. And when Life stops making sense, we retreat into a world of aloneness.
What if I told you there are damn good ways to be both prepared and ready for the shit to happen? You can assemble a toolkit of stress management techniques that will help you when Life seems to throw you an “out of the blue” curve ball.
YOUR PERSONAL SHIT HANDLING TOOLKIT
TOOL ONE. See things the way they are. Take some time, right now, to analyze your relationship with the world and people around you. When you come to grips with the fact that nothing is permanent and everything changes, you can start living your life authentically and fully. When you fear that something bad is happening or about to happen, keep asking yourself, “Is this real?” If it’s not real and you are letting your imagination run away with you, it’s time to recenter. If the answer to the question is “yes” and shit is truly happening, it’s time to get out Tool Two.
TOOL TWO. Don’t rush your emotions. Just handle it. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced the concept of the five stages of grief: (a) Denial, (b) Anger, (c) Bargaining, (d) Depression, and (e) Acceptance. Quite frankly, these stages apply to any highly stressful situation (whether real or imagined). The important thing for you to note is that these stages happen at different times and in a different order for each of you. Just let them come to you. Why? Because Tool Two is all about just handling what comes your way and not worrying about controlling your emotions. “Handling it,” by the way means living in the moment and responding to the shit that is happening at that moment. Stop projecting into the future – that’s where fear and anxiety are born. Stop staring at your past – that’s where regret and sorrow are born. Just stay centered in the Here and Now. If you can’t do that, it’s time to get out Tool Three.
TOOL THREE. Let someone else help. Fear, stress, and anxiety can become overwhelming for some. They create immersive experiences and feelings and you feel like you’ve been thrown into a sea and you have no flotation device to save you (or the ones you love). One of my favorite quotes is from Edwin Louis Cole. It goes like this: “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” When you feel like you need to be alone to drown in your own fears, sorrow, and what you think is the unfairness of it all, that’s likely the best time for you to find someone to be and share with. Express your fears, your concerns, your sadness with someone else. It will help you create a safe and caring place to move forward from. And, if just being with someone else is not enough, bring out the most powerful instrument of all – Tool Four.
TOOL FOUR. Know that you cannot hold everything. But you can choose how to respond to everything. Here’s a deep insight from Richard Bach for you to consider: “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy.” One of the best tools you can start to employ – right now – is the concept of non-attachment. Now before you start pushing back, know that non-attachment does not mean not having, it only means not holding onto something or someone. Remember Tool One? Nothing is permanent and everything changes. Most of the people you come into contact with don’t understand “not holding.” All they know is the selfishness of the words “to have and to hold.” When you finally stop clinging, hanging on, and trying to control each and every thing or person, you will suddenly find yourself an open cup. And perhaps . . . just perhaps . . . Life will finally show you there is a way to be filled with Happiness.
Shit is going to happen. It’s inevitable. But take comfort in these words from John Lennon: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
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