Tough times come and go
If you’re reading this, the chances are you have known tough times.
Nothing hits harder than life and when you’re down, your down.
But as Ronan Keating once sang… “life is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it.”
A rollercoaster is just one metaphor for life:
- The journey of life.
- Chapters of your life.
- The seasons of life.
Sometimes you’re up and everything is great and sometimes you’re down and everything sucks.
Just know that this is normal.
Everyone deals with tough times differently but knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel makes them easier to deal with.
As Corey Anderson’s father said… “it can only last so long.”
Time is a healer
Appreciating the power of time helps you to understand:
- How to get over a breakup.
- How to deal with depression or anxiety.
- How to cope with grief or loss.
As mentioned in my article “How To Deal With Loneliness,” I’ve been through a minor dip in the rollercoaster recently and some of the key resources I used to help me though that situation were teachings from Taoism and Buddhism, and listening to teachers like Eckhart Tolle and Alan Watts.
This segment of Alan Watts’ YouTube video “Don’t take life too seriously” was particularly useful to me for the reasons in my notes below…
Alan Watts quote 1
If you interpret pain as something that is destroying you and is going in the direction of total death, then it is very serious indeed and it is perfectly terrifying.
Nowadays, very few things threaten our lives.
Pain often comes from our interpretation of events.
Avoid suffering in your mind by objectively analysing the reality of the situation.
See things as they are. Not worse than they are.
The likelihood is that the thing causing you pain is not heading in the direction of destruction or total death.
If you still have water, food and shelter, everything will be okay. Just give it time.
If the thing causing you pain is heading in the direction of destruction, total death or potentially suicide, then it is very serious indeed.
For help with mental health and potential suicide use these resources:
- Support groups and contacts at the bottom of Understanding Mental Health
- Useful tips in Preventing Suicide: Some Do’s & Don’ts
- Helping those in need by Supporting A Friend Or Family Member With Mental Illness
Alan Watts quote 2
The worst part of torture is the beginning.
The worst part of suffering (including loss, grief, anxiety, depression and other mental and emotional burdens) is the start, when you are full of illusions and fears about what is right and wrong, what is good and bad and a fear that bad may prevail!
You often fear the worst case, but this is very rarely the actual outcome.
As torture proceeds, it slowly changes the victim’s state, to a kind of drunken acceptance – this is letting go and accepting everything just the way it is (see doctrine 1 of the Dokkōdō).
According to Alan Watts, people give in to torture, it becomes something that they cooperate with – acceptance!
This can be the same in your life. You cannot force nature, but you can just let it flow.
The challenge is to be the best at what you can control without being overly concerned with things you cannot. This is being unf*ckwithable.
Alan Watts quote 3
There is a point in which pain becomes an experience without having a negative interpretation put on it.
After a long enough time, pain eventually becomes an assortment of sensations that have no meaning.
For as long as your pain has meaning, the meaning of threat, the meaning of never loving again, the meaning of never laughing again, the meaning of death, the meaning of limited existence, then it is absolutely horrendous, but if you put up with it long enough to have no meaning, it just becomes something that exists. It’s neither good nor bad.
If there are no negative associations to an experience or event, there are no BAD feelings, just feelings.
This is most obvious when comparing excitement to nervousness. Physically, they both feel the same; however, it is the interpretation that impacts the individual’s actions.
Alan Watts quote 4
It depends on the set – the way you approach the experience.
The way you approach an experience is the key factor behind dealing with pain.
You can choose to find meaning of the situation, or you can choose to just let it be.
Nothing is good. Nothing is bad. It just is.
Life is just nature taking its course.
There will be dark seasons, there will be bumps in the road, but you ultimately choose what it means.
Using time to heal
Using time and the thoughts presented in this article will provide you with more tools for dealing with difficult periods in your life.
You will still suffer, that’s life, but if you can at least think back to this article when you need perspective, it may be able to help you.
- Tough times come and go.
- Time is a great healer.
- If you interpret pain as something that is destroying you and is going in the direction of total death, then it is very serious indeed and it is perfectly terrifying.
- The worst part of torture is the beginning.
- There is a point in which pain becomes an experience without having a negative interpretation put on it.
- It depends on the set – the way you approach the experience.
The phrase I use to remember these lessons is…
The worst part of torture is the start.
Please share your methods of dealing with pain and suffering in the comments box below.
I hope this helps.