No matter how hard we try to avoid them, there are potholes in the road of life. Whether they appear in the forms of setbacks or obstacles, there are times in our lives when things do not go according to plan.
The thing about potholes, is you can either keep going through them or get stuck. Depending upon your state of mind and what is happening in the rest of your life, you might find yourself able to easily drive over them one day and get fully entrenched on another.
For those moments when we do find ourselves unable to drive forward with ease, it’s helpful to consider the following:
1: Suffering and difficulty are simply part of life.
There. I said it. No life is complete without some degree of suffering or difficulty. It sounds so obvious, but when we feel stuck, it is something we often forget. It doesn’t do us any good to waste energy on beating up ourselves, other people, or the Universe for “causing this problem.” Instead, save the energy for moving forward, and work to embrace the idea that this feeling of suffering was inevitable. If not now, then another time.
2. It is our attachments that dictate our suffering, not the situation itself.
Part of easing suffering is dependent on re-configuring or re-aligning our attachments. It is natural for us to become attached to certain ideas about how our lives should go. Holding on to ideas that things or people should be a certain way, leads to suffering when they inevitably fall outside of that construct. For example, if you believe that monetary success dictates self-worth, then you are bound to suffer whenever your bank account balance falls. If you release yourself from this attachment to money, then you free yourself from feelings of unworthiness. Be mindful of your attachments. Take notice of your physical and emotional responses when presented with a change in plan, and work consciously to reframe your thoughts.
3. You have the power to free your own mind.
Instead of allowing feelings like fear, shame, guilt, judgement, and anxiety to fester within and take over, be aware of these low energy emotions and when they occur. When they do, see if you can channel them into different, more positive and peaceful ones. For example, if you are going into an interview, and you feel yourself getting anxious, try to redirect your anxious thoughts into feelings of excitement or determination. It is through awareness that we increase flexibility in our thinking and reduce suffering. In fact, the more tense the situation, the more at ease your mind should be.
4. Remember that nothing is permanent.
Everything in this world is in motion. It is dynamic, and it moves fluidly around us. The same goes for ourselves, our emotions, and our situations. No matter how tightly we cling to the forms in our lives, they will always change. Perhaps in imperceptible and slow ways, but they do change. It is impossible to maintain exactly who we are forever because who we are is really only who we are right now.
No matter where you are on this road of Life, be proactive about the potholes that are coming. Do not let them scare you, and do not let them ruin your trip. Remember that you are the one driving, you are in control, and you have the power to make them merely bumps in the road.