A Re-booter’s Reconsideration of Hardship

Every hardship has a positive buried within

Every hardship has a positive buried within

November always feels like such a “homey” month, doesn’t it? Between the brilliance of the changing leaves, the kids’ sporting events well underway, and clear, cold nights we marvel at how time speeds along, reminding us the end of the year is nigh. Looking up from the long list of tasks that need attending to as the holidays bear down, it’s useful to dedicate a few moments to consider our immediate difficulties and enumerate the good things that come from them. It may not make sense to recommend such an inventory, but even in hardship, we can find good. This is well worth remembering as we rapidly approach this emotionally fraught time of year.

Having a positive frame of reference (especially when life starts to feel burdensome) makes our loads lighter. You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating because certain insights only come to us after we’ve spent time reconsidering how we perceive them. Say for instance, you’re unemployed, retired, or are on an extended hiatus due to illness. On many fronts this can feel terrible, but a break in routine enables you to regroup, possibly relax, reevaluate what you’re doing, and presents an opportunity for you to strike out in a new direction. Undergoing this process is that much harder to do when you’re exhausted or consumed with deadlines and inventory. Think of it as a gestation period.

Alas, I am keenly familiar with the excruciating discomfort that can arise when we feel caught in-between. It’s terrible to feel adrift, without a clear purpose. What’s my identity now? But what we tend to forget is that not all good ideas can be birthed when we’re frantic or drained. “I’m too responsible to make a change,” we mope, nearly catatonic as we stare at the tv with our half finished beer. Have you ever found yourself in such straits? Do you recall that feeling of resignation or helplessness? Did you do anything about it? How many people have you known who are simply spinning their wheels, impatient to break free but terrified of what’s required to do so? I was one of them

My point in today’s post is to consider some of the aspects of your life which are hard and reflect upon the positives that spring out of them. This doesn’t mean that the positive outweigh the negative, but is intended to cultivate a more reasoned, less emotional perspective so you can make better choices. It’s far less “fun” to be sensible than emotional about matters that strike close to home, but this is part of maturity—you know this! (A big problem in today’s society is the celebration of emotionalism we see all around us.)

Re-booting requires us to reconsider everything. What we previously consigned so readily into good or bad, now appears to have greater nuance. Maybe it’s not the end of the world that you got fired. Maybe getting older actually brings with it certain advantages, releasing us from certain expectations. Maybe dating in mid-life isn’t as fraught with heart rending rejection as it was when we were younger because we actually know more now. Maybe we’re far enough in life to recognize that having a relationship end is not the end of the world.

Ordinarily, any of these events could reasonably be categorized as distressing and sad, and I don’t mean to imply that they aren’t. But, what I’m saying is that they’re more than that. Just the other day, I was torturing myself that it was “too late for me.” I’ve missed the boat in so many ways as to render my life perplexingly pathetic and sad. I should just accept my sad little fate. But then, I reminded myself of all the things I get to do, all the burdens I don’t have, and just how much I’ve changed over the last five years. How miserable I’d be if I’d remained in my old life. And then I felt better…

While it’s a certainty that nobody is going to point to me as a shining example of someone who’s got life by the tail, I suppose that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m a lot farther ahead than I was and while it’s been a long, rough road for me, these years in the wilderness have enabled me to reconsider my priorities, rehabilitate certain relationships, and explore my writing on a serious basis. The fact that I can’t list those things on Linked In or anywhere else doesn’t lessen their importance, buoying me up when I feel down.

This is what I want for you.

This is why you need to take some quiet time today to reflect upon the positives of your very trying situation. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t work to change where you are, but I want you to give credit to the positives that do exist. We always have more than we lack. Always.

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