We’re coming up to Easter. Mythologically Speaking, Easter is a time of rebirth: an alchemical time of finding strength, Self, and awakening – sometimes through facing trials and challenges. I’ve noticed that over the past few weeks many people close to us have been experiencing challenging personal situations in health, relationships, work and other life events. Easter, traditionally associated with Christ’s death and Resurrection, is rich with symbolism, and is a time to remind us that even when we face loss or suffering, that doesn’t have to be the end; that the Self can still be victorious, and in fact can emerge more refined, more fulfilled, more full of grace and light than before the challenge struck.
So what is the difference then, between letting a challenge knock you down and using it to strengthen yourself and blaze brighter? The difference is every choice you make about how to think, feel and behave in that situation. How strong can you be? How much can you decide to behave with virtue even when all you want to do is throw a tantrum and make it someone else’s fault? What are you focusing on: every detail of how it’s wrong? Or the details (however small they may be) of how it’s right and how you can move forward? Are you identifying with the problem? Or are you able to keep sight of who you are beyond the problem: because you are so much more than that! Often when big hairy scary challenges come, we want to hide from them and run away. But the only way to the other side is through, and the more you can engage with the challenge in a healthy way, the happier life on the other side will be.
In school, university, or any type of education, it is assumed that students will learn, and then be tested on what they learn. In the early grades, the testing is fairly straightforward. As the student’s knowledge and ability grows, it would be pointless continuing to give them the same easy tests. They need tests that challenge them where they are at, and that inspire growth and evolution. So it is with life. If you find yourself in a situation that feels overwhelming, try not to think ‘I can’t deal with this!’ or ‘Why is this happening?’ but rather ‘What does this require of me?’ ‘What can I give this situation that could lift it, or make it easier for myself and others?’ Just like a test in school, the challenge is not the whole of who you are, but it will require you to rise to the task if you want to get the best results.
Sometimes the types of challenges we face involve something breaking or irrevocably changing. In these times, it is easy to feel that the only way to ever be OK again is if we can ‘fix’ it, and revert to how life was before. Unfortunately, how life was before is gone. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean we will never be happy and fulfilled again. It means we have an opportunity to find a part of self we didn’t know before: to discover and learn mental, emotional and physical skills that will allow us to be happy and fulfilled in the new circumstance. When we let go of trying to change what’s happened, we can be present to lifting how we are now and becoming inspired about how to move forward.
One of the most helpful mindsets I’ve ever found to deal with big challenges is to keep reminding myself: I am bigger than this. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or subsumed in what’s going on, and in the fear and uncertainty that it causes. But we are all so much more than that. Just at a basic level, each of us have so many skills, strengths and so much worth that is beyond whatever the challenge is. From a more spiritual perspective, you may believe that you are a soul, and that you are interconnected with all that is! All that is is certainly bigger than any problem. Whilst it may seem abstract, I find resting my consciousness there brings a calmness and allows for an objectivity and clarity about a situation that leads to better decisions.
So when challenge comes, be you. Be the biggest, strongest most courageous you you can be. Surrender your attachments to how things ‘should’ be and bring life and goodness into how things are. Try to see the best in those around you as they also deal with the challenge the best way they can. Expand, don’t contract. Bring your whole Self to it. This too shall pass, and whatever you bring to the now will shape the dawn that comes after the darkness.
Have faith in yourself, and may the sun rise strong and blazing!
Loads of love and happy Easter,