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11 April 2012 · 4:32 am

Be The Overcomer

“You learn more from ten days of agony than from ten years of content.” ~ Sally Jessy Raphael … 

Contentment, serenity, peace, gladness–these are all such wonderful aspects of life. Yet when we experience them, it is important that we keep the reality of life in perspective–we all have our darkest days… times when we feel that we are hanging on by a thread and cannot make it through what life has dealt us. And during such periods of our life, it is important to remain steadfast and focused, for these are the times in which we have the greatest ability for growth and change. When things are going poorly, or when unpleasant things are happening, it is important that we are able to recognize that the sun is still shining brightly, just beyond the clouds. And when the storms subside, we will have become a stronger individual because of what we have faced–the trials and difficulties will help us to become all the more useful to those who matter most in our lives.<!–more–>

This brings up an important aspect of overcoming difficulties in life–not being afraid to ask others for help. Many individuals have gone through hard times and similar experiences as we are faced with and have come out stronger and more resilient. Not only are these individuals wonderful sources for advice, but more often than not, they would be delighted to be able to help someone else through similar times by sharing some of their knowledge, wisdom, and insight.

Unfortunately, we cannot always rely on others to help us through the hardships of life. Sometimes, there simply are no words that can help us and we may need to help ourselves. Yet knowing the truth behind Sally’s words–both accepting it and believing it–can be an effective means to understanding and dealing with the difficulties of life. For therein lies the perspective that is necessary of us to unlock the true potential of such hardships–to help us grow and change into more stronger, kinder, more compassionate and caring individuals.

Reflect on how the hurt and pains you face in life might help you to become stronger.

Questions to consider:

If you are going through something difficult, do you value advice from someone who has been through the same thing over the advice of someone who has never experienced it?

What is the value of learning through adversity?

Just because we learn more from agony, does that mean we want to search out agonizing situations?

For further thought:

“You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, in pain, experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain and learn to accept it, not as a curse or punishment, but as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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Challenges Offer Opportunities For Growth

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross … 

The sandstone canyons of the southwest United States are some of the beautiful results of the carvings of the wind. Standing before them, and peering out into the horizon, we see the majestic cliffs and columns rise gracefully into the sky, mute reminders of the power nature possesses of change over time. Through them, we are witness to the results of the wind beating down upon these rocks for years, weathering them, carving them, and shaping them into the magnificent spires that they are today. Of course, the wind is not solely responsible for the beauty of these canyons, but it is a huge contributor. <!–more–> 

Elisabeth is reminding us, in such a beautiful way, that just like these canyons, we are marvelous creations–miraculous and unique individuals who exhibit wonderful qualities for the entire world to see. And in much the same way as the windstorms have carved these canyons, the storms in our lives have helped to bring us to the point we are now. All the obstacles along our journey, all the tempests that threatened us and tossed us through the oceans of life, also helped to shape us, and to wear away some of the inessential parts of our becoming.

Of course, the storms are not always easy to face or to weather; sometimes we will be afraid and wish that we were completely protected from them. Yet this will never be the reality–we can never fully control the outcomes of any storms. We can, however, work our ways through them as best we know how, as the ways in which we face the adversity of life’s storms will have a lot to do with the beauty of the carvings that emerge in us. And as we face them, and deal with them on their terms as well as our own, we will change, grow, and continue to uncover and expose the higher parts of ourselves for all to see–the amazing beauty of the character and integrity that is so strong within.

Discover new ways in which the adversity and difficutly you face help you to grow.

Questions to consider:

Why are storms so frightening? If we knew that we would come through them unscathed, would they be so frightening?

What kinds of beauty have been exposed in you over the years? Patience, simplicity, strength, willingness to bend and compromise?

How can we help other people to work their way through the storms of life without trying to shield them completely from the winds that are so important?

For further thought:

“Even if I may be going through a challenging experience, I am grateful, for I know that good will come from it. Will I learn of inner strength that I didn’t know I had? Will I gain a renewed appreciation for my life and the people in it? I am grateful for my present circumstances, for I know they offer opportunities for growth.” ~ unattributed, The Daily Word

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You Can Overcome!

“The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” ~ Helen Keller …

So much of our experience in life depends upon our attitudes and our perceptions of it. We have all experienced suffering in life; and unfortunately, we will continue to do so, for the world is full of it. Each day we endure stress, anxiety, grief, tragedy, hurt, broken relationships, and a multitude of other causes of suffering. Yet here we are; we have come through the suffering to become who we are today, and we will continue to come through the suffering that awaits us tomorrow, in a week, and even in a year. <!–more–>  

The suffering that we bear allows us to grow and to flourish–to become stronger, kinder, more resilient, more compassionate, and much wiser. And although most of us do not go through grand tragedies that cause us to suffer immensely and intensely, we often deal with quite painful things such depression, bullying, and addiction. And by pushing forth and overcoming the small struggles of suffering in our lives, we prepare ourselves for the much bigger ones that may befall us someday.

There are many ways to overcome suffering–prayer, faith, meditation, talking with others, reading self-help books, staying positive, asking others for help. Yet the most important thing we can do is to maintain a healthy perspective so that no matter what suffering we are faced with, it will not bring us down. After all, life works in cycles; and once we can acknowledge that, we can recognize that even in the darkest night, the sun will rise in the morning.

The suffering we face in life does not define us. But how we react to that suffering will–to a large degree-define who we are as human beings. And although challenging times will appear and affect us, we can overcome them, just as billions of humans have done throughout history. The mere fact that the world is full of prevailing over suffering is cause for celebration and admiration.

When faced with difficulties or suffering, remind yourself that “this, too, shall pass.”

Questions to consider:

What do you consider to be suffering, and what do you consider to be simply inconveniences?

Why do so many people seem to feel most comfortable when they are suffering? What need is the suffering filling?

Why is it important to keep in mind that suffering shall pass, and that many people have suffered through–and overcome–much worse than we are dealing with?

For further thought:

“Strength is a capacity for endurance. One of the dividends of suffering is the universal discovery the we possess a strength within us we never knew we had. Navigating through a difficult episode not only shows us that inner strength is there but convinces us it will always be there to serve us in the future. Overcoming gives us an assurance of personal confidence and value that far exceeds what we thought we possessed before our struggles began.” ~ Dennis Wholey

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Choose Your Battles Wisely–Do Not Waste Time “Wrestling With Any Pigs”

“I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” ~ Cyrus Ching … 

There are some individuals, who when I try to point out something hurtful that they have done to get them to see how damaging their actions are, they try to turn it into an argument. They love to fight and are typically outright mean to anyone around them. The idea of bickering with these people, as Cyrus appropriately puts it, is like wrestling with a pig–they enjoy fighting and do not want to keep things civil… they want it to get dirty. <!–more–>

In my experience, those who are willing to hurt others are usually not interested in knowing what kind of harm they have done. They typically would prefer to continue feeling the self-righteousness that allowed them to act in inconsiderate and harmful ways in the first place. In addition, they rarely employ logic in an argument as logic tends to keep things clean. This means that nearly any interaction we begin with these individuals typically becomes a conflict. They try to fluster us, get under our nerves. Perhaps we will hear them say “So?” when we point out how much hurt or damage they have caused. Just like wrestling with a pig, we can waste enormous amounts of energy trying to reason with such people, and still never reach any sort of satisfactory conclusion. And as we try to reason with them, they watch and enjoy all the stress and discomfort we are experiencing because of their unwillingness to respond to logic.

Some individuals, no matter how much we try, simply love irritating others. There really is no point in trying to work with them–expending any amount of energy to accomplish something that, really, cannot be accomplished. Playing their games is simply a waste of our time and energy–we give up our peace only to add enjoyment and pleasure to the life of someone who truly does not deserve our time of day.

Do not give the pigs the enjoyment of watching you get dirty as well out of frustration and annoyance. Let the pigs be pigs, and choose battles that are more logical. And if, perhaps, you need a pig to do something, you can find someone who knows how to make pigs do things; we do not necessarily have to do everything ourselves.

Choose your battles wisely–do not waste time “wrestling with any pigs.”

Questions to consider:

What makes us tend to take on tasks that are not easily accomplished, especially where other people are concerned?

Why do we tend to continue to wrestle with pigs, even when we have seen that it does not really work?

What are some options that we could take instead of wrestling with pigs? Who could help us out with the pig?

For further thought:

“A more peaceful way to live is to decide consciously which battles are worth fighting and which are better left alone. Is it really important that you confront someone simply because he or she has made a minor mistake? Does a small scratch on your car really warrant a suit in small claims court? These and thousands of other small things are what many people spend their lives fighting about. If you don’t want to “sweat the small stuff,” it’s critical that you choose your battles wisely.” ~ Richard Carlson

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Pearls Of Wisdom

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung … 

It is quite surprising–or perhaps disturbing–how much understanding I can gather about myself from the things that irritate me about others. The reality of my strong emotions and reactions to the things that others do and say, or the ways in which they act, are largely rooted in the fact that I do and say very similar things, and act in similar ways, and am bothered by that. The truth, however, is that I would much rather admonish and scold others than to deal with those issues in my own life. <!–more–> 

I was recently talking with an individual who would not let me get in more than a word or two. Of course, I was a bit aggravated by his rudeness, and quickly left the discourse upset and annoyed. However, not even a few hours later, I found myself doing much the same when I was speaking with my wife. There I was, going into much greater detail than was necessary, cutting her off, and hardly leaving her much time to speak. Luckily, since I was reflecting upon this at the time, I was able to stop myself from doing it further, for the time being.

The things that irritate us hold perhaps the greatest potential to help reveal things about ourselves that are bothering us. All that it takes is a healthy attitude and perspective, and the irritations we experience can become tools for positive growth and development–offering us helpful insight that can reduce the amount of irritation and negativity we experience and enrich our lives. Perhaps this is where the term “pearls of wisdom” originated.

Be aware of the ways in which you might be irratating those around you.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so easy to be judgmental of others when they do things that irritate us, but not of ourselves when we do things that irritate others?

How might we go about finding out just what we do that irritates others?

Why might we dislike in others some of the very same traits that we share with them?

For further thought:

“Therefore what you notice and what irritates you in others can teach you important things about yourself, things you may not be aware of. In a way, people can be like a mirror for you, a mirror that can help you to learn more about yourself, what you fear and how you may be fooling yourself.” ~ Henrik Edberg

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Learn To Work Around All The “Thorns Of Life”

“We win half the battle when we make up our minds to take the world as we find it, including the thorns.” ~ Orison Swett Marden … 

The thorns of this world are a necessary and important part of life. Just as roses are not roses without them, if we removed the thorns of life, many of the necessary things in this world would simply cease to be. Sure, they are not always pleasant–they often cause us pain, suffering, grief, and misery–but the lessons they teach us about caution, avoidance, perseverance, and growth are essential to our becoming. <!–more–> 

To lead fulfilling and satisfying lives, we need the struggles, the battles, and the occasional prick from the thorns of life. We all begin life not knowing who we are or what we want to be. And as we search for purpose and meaning, we either come to find ourselves through our journey–obstacles and all,–or we begin to find ourselves dissatisfied that life is not exactly as we expected it to be. But that dissatisfaction is our own doing; it comes from wanting or expecting the world to be free of thorns, yet seeing that it is not.

As compassionate individuals, we often wish to help remove the thorns from the lives of others. Especially as parents, we try to ensure that the lives of our children are safe, shielded, and risk-free so that they do not get hurt or ever have to face pain in their journey through life. But it is important to remember the significance of experiencing the thorns of life, or these children might grow up not knowing how to deal with adversity, not understanding why the world is not making itself safe for them, blaming God and others for the pains, sufferings, failures, and losses in their lives.

The thorns of life strengthen us, they help us to grow, and they condition us for service–they are a necessity of life. For it is really only through experiencing and dealing with adversity in our lives, that we are able to help others to do the same. And those of us who are able to deal with the setbacks and difficulties of life–without losing our composures or giving up–are master gardeners of our lives, for they have learned to work around all the thorns, and have cultivated a garden filled with beautiful flowers.

Deal with what life has to give on its own terms instead of trying to impose your own upon life.

Questions to consider:

Can you imagine what a thorn-free world would be like?

Why do so many people think that thorns are a bad thing, and that life would be better without them?

Marden’s statement “when we make up our minds to take the world as we find it” implies an active approach to decision-making. Have you made this particular decision in your life? Can we realistically expect to take the world in any other way?

For further thought:

“It had done me good to be somewhat parched by the heat and drenched by the rain of life ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Manage Your Anger!

“The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.” ~ Jacqueline Schiff … 

I have generally been able to manage my anger for the most part, although, there were periods in my childhood in which it was more difficult–stages in which I was in unfamiliar territory or when I felt that the best thing to do was to let others know how I felt. You see, in the past I used to believe that expressing my anger as soon as possible was a good thing—that letting it out right away was just being honest and allowed me not to have to carry anything with me. But as I grew older, I began to recognize that the anger I was letting out was being absorbed and carried by those around me–others got defensive, they became angry themselves and began to express it in their own ways. <!–more–>

The anger we put out into the world goes on to perpetuate more anger, and more energies that are negative, all around us. Even worse, it indiscriminately disrupts and pollutes the waters of our souls. Much of this can be solved, however, by finding healthy ways to deal with our anger, such as waiting to express it until we have had some time to cool down and to process it ourselves in our minds and in our hearts. Often times, as we wait on our anger, we find that it actually diminishes–that as time goes by, the heat from our emotions begins to evaporate, and we are simply left with the actual problem. At this point, we can have a chat with the individuals who made us angry and we can work on resolving the issues in healthy and productive ways.

When we are able to separate ourselves from the situations that are creating enmity, resentment, and hatred in our lives, we often find ourselves looking at things from all angles–including seeing things from the perspectives of those who have angered us. Often times, this will leave us feeling more interested in resolution than in being angry, as seeing things from all angles helps us to better understand the actions of others, as well as provide us with greater clarity of the situation as a whole.

Of course, when we work on waiting on expressing our anger, we have to be certain that we are not needlessly hiding it away within ourselves with the intent of someday dealing with it. In such cases, we are not really remedying the anger, only prolonging it, sustaining it, and perhaps even strengthening it with more fuel, all which will be let out at a future time.

The next time you feel yourself being overcome with anger, go for a walk. Take a break and separate yourself from those negative emotions you feel by spending some time alone in silence and reflection. This is a wonderful way for us to separate ourselves from the immediacy of the situation–without ignoring it or packing it away–while allowing our tempers to calm down so that we do not say or do things that we may come to regret.

Find and employ healthy ways of dealing with your anger throughout the day.

Questions to consider:

Why is it easier to express or anger than it is to go for a walk?

What kinds of things might we see more clearly if we take the time to go for a long walk instead of expressing our anger immediately?

What positive purposes do short tempers serve? How do they help to improve our relationships?

For further thought:

“The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” ~ Seneca

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