While asserting ourselves, carving out a place for ourselves, or pursuing our goals and dreams with a vengeance we sometimes forget that there may be a softer, gentler way of achieving the outcome we desire. It appears, and very often is, a cutthroat, dog-eat-dog world we live in that will leap on and exploit any weakness or hesitation perceived. The most common, instant reaction to those actions is to attempt to take the offensive route and seize the advantage for ourselves. This may not be the most efficacious route to take; slowing the pace of events, so that actions and reactions need not occur rapidly, can allow for real strategizing instead of reactive tactics. Moderation can be a vital tool in the push and shove of academic, professional, and interpersonal conflicts; when you give a little instead of instantly reacting defensively or offensively, using quiet language and really listen to your opponent you’ll find your stress level reduced and, incidentally, find less aggressive behavior aimed in your direction. If you don’t respond to words or actions designed to trigger your anger, fear, or resentment but remain outwardly calm and relaxed you will have taken the wind out of your opposite’s fiery sails. Isn’t it worth trying to walk more softly, if only for your own peace of mind?
No matter how much we act and think as if a positive attitude, plucky performance, and pure, strong will can overcome any obstacle it simply isn’t true. We’re told over and over in many ways that any obstacle can be surmounted and that any negative can be transformed into a positive; in the majority of cases in most peoples’ lives this can be true through the committed utilization of efforts such as those above and many more that are available to us if we look. There are, however, events we have no control over at all; these may be positive or negative, but are going to happen whether we try to do something about them or not. When they are positive we can celebrate and be thankful. When they are not so positive we can weep and moan, whine and rage though those reactions will change nothing. What we can do that doesn’t add to our pain, grief, and sorrow is to stand tall and face our adversity with the knowledge of and faith in our own self-worth in our stance and in our eyes, in our hearts and in our minds. What better time to recognize your worth and use it than in times of ultimate challenge?
If not already, then hopefully at some point there will appear someone in your life who will ask you what you’re doing; and they’ll ask why you’re doing it. People will ask these questions of you and others because they observe you and/or them acting with purpose and behaving with commitment to something (anything); they may be curious about what the secret is to finding a purpose and sticking with it. It becomes very difficult to continue along a path you are following unless you have a reason to do so; you can manufacture a reason after the fact, but doing that is usually unsatisfactory since you haven’t actually defined or completed a specified goal, you’ve only appeared busy to others, but mostly to yourself. If appearing busy is your goal, then you will accomplish it easily; there is not much effort involved in running around in circles. If you have something in mind that you really want to accomplish, then your purpose defines itself and you will have no difficulty with motivation. It is those who create thoughtfully designed goals that show the visible and stimulating purpose that others find so attractive. And aren’t these purposeful people attractive as well?
When trudging on and on through day after day with nose to grindstone gets overwhelming, it can be heartening to lift your head and catch a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. It can also be very worth your while to not only raise your gaze from your toes to gain strength from that distant light; if you look to either side you may spy another path to take that could quicken your journey or smooth some of the bumps from it. If you turn for a moment and look backward you may find encouragement from the distance you’ve already come and the obstacles you’ve already overcome. Choosing to acknowledge that there is light ahead and that you can achieve your goals enable you to insert patches of contentment, or even instances of happiness, into your daily trudging drudgery. There are some who choose to remain put upon or hopeless or to whine about their circumstances; that is their choice, we can change the way we feel by the choices we make about our attitudes; there are plenty of platitudes and clichés about this very thing – but at times we need a wake-up call to remember the choices are out there and that it is up to us to make them. Doesn’t hope trump despair?
Frustration is one the most, if not the most, aggravating feelings there is. If you let your feelings at being frustrated show you are castigated or laughed at; if you keep them inside your anger and helplessness escalate. You may feel you can’t ask for help if the task seems easy and others are watching; you can’t let it go for the same reason. Being frustrated is a strong, private thing that just happens to usually be very public, which means that we can have a difficult time restraining our emotions even though they tend to run extremely strongly. No one likes to feel incompetent or thwarted. What we can do is to step back, relax our shoulders, and take a deep breath, meanwhile ignoring, not even looking at what has frustrated us. If we step back we may be able to see the situation in a whole new light and either see a solution or be able to let it go. Whatever it is, it is not worth wasting time better spent more productively. Once we’ve stepped back and gotten a wider perception of what is transpiring, we may choose to direct our efforts toward something that is more suited to our abilities. Why keep on trying to do something we are clearly not suited for?
Sometimes we shake our heads and look around and wonder how happened to get where we are. Sometimes this is fine: we’ve had a chance to turn off our brains, relax, and drift with the flow, secure that we have no worries at the moment and won’t have them when we arrive wherever we’ve drifted either. We may even make some contacts that we will want to keep up with when we return to the regular rhythm of our days and that may become friends. However, although we may become relaxed, and lax, about our thinking and feeling, we cannot do so to the detriment of our usual lives; inevitably our usual lives are connected in one way or another with others’ lives; inevitably we must clothe and feed ourselves, and our family, if we have one. We must remain responsible for ourselves and our livelihood. So, while we must let go, drift, and unwind for a while; we must also hold on, stay on course, and wind up as well. The challenge is to maintain a balance between the two, to be able to recognize when drifting is called for and when buckling down becomes the priority. Do you think you have a handle on that balance?
Since we are alive we must always be in motion one way or another, even when we sleep. Unless we try to keep track of all our physical movements and our thoughts and dreams all the time, an impossible task, we will generate unintended consequences. In fact, most of the consequences that result from our actions are unintended, and mostly go unnoticed by us, though perhaps not by others. The majority of these occurrences do not immediately, or will not, cause harm. Oddly enough, those consequences that are thought about most, and even carefully planned, are the ones that cause most damage because we cannot know how every little things can and connect with or react to every other little thing, thus our good intentions fail and can bring about negative or dire consequences that require more fixing than maintenance of the planned improvement; or cannot be fixed at all. You may want to choose to do nothing, even though you are filled with good intentions, when you really don’t know enough about the situation to attempt to change it. And you may want to think carefully instead reacting blindly to situations that have aroused your joy or fury. Haven’t we all done things with unexpected, positive or negative, outcomes?