The Way You Cope

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” ~ Virginia Satir

How many times in my life have I wasted my time and energy fretting and stressing over the fact that life was not becoming what I thought or expected it to be. Yet life continued anyway. And as Virginia states here, with a simple–but certainly not simplistic–perspective, and a more positive attitude, I could have spent that time doing something that was much less stressful, and definitely more constructive and fulfilling.

Our experience in life is a lot like the weather–we know how we want it to be, how life is “supposed to be,” and we often try to live our lives based off what kind of day it is or how it is going. But we cannot control the weather… and we cannot control life–the actions and reactions of others, the situations we encounter and occurrences that happen upon us, the performance of the business we work at and all the other companies who do business so that ours remains stable, and so many other things that are nearly inconceivable to list. Yet how often do we hear others saying things like, “that is not how this was supposed to happen… or go… or end?”

When we look at life in its most simplistic terms, we find that there are two things we are each tasked with: navigating our way through the waters of the ocean, which at times are treacherous, daunting, and tiresome, and helping others to learn to do the same in their own lives and in their own ways. And when life throws us a curveball, and upsets plans that we have put into motion–like getting laid off or losing a loved one–it is up to us to make sure that we do not lose our peace of mind. We must still try to enjoy life, even while we are searching for the changes to make in our lives that will help the most, and trying to recognize and embrace the new opportunities that come our way when doors are closed.

Life is the way it is. And if we can deal with this reality–approaching the obstacles and difficulties that happen to cross our paths in optimistic and enthusiastic ways–life will begin to become much more bearable. The insurmountable mountains that we once saw in the horizon will begin to grow much smaller until they eventually resemble the small hills that they truly are. And when we encounter others in life who are experiencing similar things, we will understand that the best thing we can do is to listen to what they have to say–without telling them exactly what they may need or have to do–and allow them to make their own necessary changes in their lives so that they might work through the issues they are facing. It is their task, it is to find a way to cope with their lives. And while we might have some advice that we could share with them to help them avoid some of the pain and suffering that they may encounter as they make mistakes along the way, their lives are different than ours–what works for one person often times will not work for others. But if we can share the importance of learning to cope with life, we will help them greatly upon their journey towards fulfillment and happiness in life.

Find healthy ways to deal with–and respond to–the difficulties you are facing in your life.

Questions to consider:

From where do so many of us get the idea that life is supposed to work out in certain ways? What happens if we regularly expect it to do so?

Do you know anyone who feels that life is supposed to work out in certain ways? How are they generally getting along?

How do you cope with the curveballs that life tosses at you? Are you able to roll with the flow, or are they very disruptive?

For further thought:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” ~ Joseph Campbell

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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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