We’re living in uncertain times. Many of us are facing significant challenges and experiencing an understandable amount of fear. I’ve noticed that the hardest part of all of this is dealing with myself, which I think is true with most of our experiences, even the most challenging. It’s usually our own doubts, insecurities, attachments and resistance that make events or situations difficult, not so much the situations themselves.
Whether it’s our jobs, our relationships, our goals, our health, our finances or anything else that’s important to us, when we make peace with ourselves and what’s going on, life tends to flow with more ease, joy and grace. When we’re not at peace, regardless of how good or bad circumstances may be, we suffer.
Here are three keys to remember right now and any time you experience a challenge or find yourself in a fearful place:
1. Have Compassion for Yourself
Self-compassion is one of the most important aspects of life and growth, but is often something we often overlook, think is “soft,” misunderstand or don’t know how to practice. There are three elements of self-compassion:
- Mindfulness and awareness of how we’re treating ourselves.
- A sense of kindness and forgiveness toward ourselves.
- A realization of our common humanity with others (i.e., remembering that we’re not alone in our experience).
As you find yourself feeling anxious or upset, can you be kind to yourself and forgive yourself for how you are feeling?
2. Surrender to Life as It Actually Is
Surrendering isn’t about giving up or giving in. It’s about making peace with what is, even if we don’t like it. One of life’s paradoxes is that until we can be at peace with what’s actually happening in the moment (i.e., letting go of our resistance and of our obsessive focus on how things should be), we won’t be able to make the changes we want or to experience the joy we desire.
During this pandemic, it is easy to resist what is going on, because it isn’t what we want. However, if you can accept and surrender to this reality, you can let go of a lot of needless worry and suffering.
3. Take Ownership
Ownership is about taking full responsibility for our lives. It can be tricky for a few reasons: First of all, we live in a culture that loves to blame and make excuses. Secondly, there are a lot of things that happen in and around us that we don’t have direct control over. However, we always have a choice about how we interpret and relate to circumstances. When we take ownership for our lives, we let go of blame and excuses — or we notice as soon as we can when we’re heading down that negative road. And, we make a commitment to ourselves that we’re going to create what we want rather than reacting to life as if it is happening to us.
These three concepts seem simple, but, like many important aspects of life, understanding them is different from practicing and embodying them — they’re easier said than done. When we can have empathy and compassion for ourselves, and remember that nothing can change until we change, we’re reminded that we’re the source of our own pain, joy, difficulty and success. Paradoxically, when we live this way, we release ourselves from a great deal of unnecessary stress and make ourselves available to show up in an open, authentic and empowered way.