The Bigger Picture in Overcoming Adversities

Our lives present us with a multitude of challenges from the clock that needs a new battery or the computer that won’t talk to the printer to arguments over teenage children’s bedtime, how to pay this months bills, being made redundant, a family dispute, looking for a new place to live, coughs and colds, terminal illness, a broken arm, divorce, an accident where a family member dies, the dog swallowing something it shouldn’t have been chewing in the first place… the list goes on and on.

Sometimes the challenges can feel overwhelming and we get lost emotionally in what is going on. Before we realise it the smallest problem feels like the biggest challenge in the world. We can recognise when the challenge has got out of proportion when we step back and see that the amount of stress caused by needing to find a battery for the clock far outweighed the true importance of having a working clock. But when it gets to things like family disputes or problems that interfere with us doing our work (such as the car breaking down so we can’t get to where we need to be) then the line around what is important becomes very blurry. In the moment it can feel like the problem is the most important thing in the world and that nothing else matters. Yet is this really true?

One of the ways of overcoming adversities is to step back from the problem itself. When we are able to step back from the centre of what we are experiencing and stand on the edge, then we can see a bigger picture and we can see how the challenge fits in our life. It is easy to get drawn into challenges which don’t really matter and it is only when stepping back that we can see where this challenge fits in proportion with everything else in our life. In letting go of the emotions which are overwhelming us and seeing the problem with perspective, we can see how it really fits in. Does it really matter if we don’t get to do the work we planned to do today? Do I really need to keep on arguing the same point over and over just because I don’t want to lose face? Is anyone going to die if I don’t get help in overcoming adversities such as these? When we put the challenge into perspective and realise that actually the problem isn’t really that significant, then we can instantaneously overcome the problem: we may see that there is no problem after all or we may see a simple solution we hadn’t noticed before.

Of course, not all problems are overcome in this way because they are really significant and important in our lives. So what happens when the problem in our lives is big and significant such as the loss of a job or a home or the break up of a relationship or the loss of a child or other loved one? Here the challenges are real. They aren’t challenges that can be resolved in 5 minutes and the way to overcoming adversities such as these is in reaching a place of acceptance

Once we reach a place of acceptance, then we will have worked through a range of emotions which could include anger, frustration, sadness, depression and others. And coming to this place of acceptance takes time. It cannot be rushed. It’s not a place you can pretend to be. And yet you can work to get yourself on the road towards acceptance. The route that you take is one for your personal choosing: talking to friends, professional counselling, meditation, visualisation, reiki, journalling – whatever works best for you and your lifestyle.

Overcoming adversities and reaching this place of acceptance is a real gift. Along the way we will have learned much about ourselves, our friends and family and the world around us as we strive to come to terms with the life changing events and to understand why they happened. Everything happens for a reason and out of everything that happens in our lives there is something for us to learn. It may take us time to unravel the reason, and one thought which has sustained me through some of the most challenging times is that we are never presented with more than we can cope with. At times it certainly may not feel like this, and if we are able, in those most difficult moments, to centre ourselves, to come back to who we are by simply taking a deep breath in and out, then we can really feel that we have survived that moment, that we are still alive, and that ultimately life will be ok.

Big changes in our lives often mean life changing events where nothing is quite the same for us ever again. And within this there is continued scope for us to learn, to connect with our hearts and to live in the most beautiful and connected way we can. It is through overcoming adversities that we learn most, that we truly know ourselves and that we are given the gift of being truly connected to our heart. When we reach the place of acceptance, we reach a resting place: the emotions are stilled and we have found a way to meet our emotional needs. From here comes the beginning of the path to peace.

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