Life gets hard. When you have lived long enough, you realize that “hard” comes around more often than you would like. And it comes without much warning. It’s challenging and often lonely, and it can feel like no one relates to exactly what you are experiencing. It’s difficult to see the opportunity for growth through a storm of challenges, but your perspective and behavior during hard times can make or break your character. Hard often leads us to lash out, as we attempt to seek understanding from those around us. On the contrary, if we pause at hard and gain some perspective, we can move through the process with grace.
Everyone deals with hard. Our degrees and variations of hard shift from person to person. There are people in the world who don’t know where their next meal will come from. They might not have access to water or medical care. For most of you reading this, that is not your reality. Your hard might be financial strain, a breakup or relationship issues, tension in your job, an injury, a full plate of responsibilities, and sometimes just a buildup of what feels like a million challenges coming down on you at once. Regardless of your hard, it consumes your mind and can spill into your emotions and behaviors. Your hard can feel like life is caving in on you, or as if you’re spinning off the path you so perfectly laid out for yourself. If you let it, the cloud of hard can follow you everywhere, permeating all areas of your life and diminishing your joy. When you hit this state of mind, you have reached a point where you need to pause and acknowledge that someone has it worse than you. This pause is not meant to deny your pain or the difficulty of your situation. It is simply a shift in perspective that can help you recognize that things could be so much worse. This perspective allows a sense of gratitude for the privileges and access you have been provided, dissipating the dark cloud of hard.
On the contrary, wherever you are in life, there is always someone who is better off. Knowing this can make you grumpy, jealous or resentful. But, you owe it to your heart and your muse to fight off these negative feelings. Witnessing the successes of others can give you the hope and drive needed to set a goal beyond where you are now. We have all heard that our dreams are our true hopes and desires, but even while hearing this reassurance repeatedly, we can still be so pessimistic. Fears, perceived limitations, and judgments can talk us out of dreams within seconds. So, if you take a moment to observe the people around you who are pushing forward through the storm and finding success, you will find a tangible example that might provide inspiration to push you towards your own goals. You just might find yourself saying, “If she can do it, so can I.”
That all sounds lovely and simple, but it doesn’t change the fact that you will always keep walking into walls. You might shake things off and turn to the left with a positive outlook and BOOM, another freaking issue! It could be something as small as an appliance breakdown or traffic ticket, but when you are fragile and going through hard, it could be just the thing to leave you crumbling. These constant issues are what set you off and allow your emotions to get the best of you. You get snappy and act out of character. Stop right there! This is not fair to the people in your life - or to your own muse. They are not responsible for your hard times, even if you are unhappy with them. This is where it’s important to admit the truth. You are having a hard time and that’s okay. Express it and talk about it. Keeping your feelings all pinned up while acting out just makes you look like an asshole. You are much better off letting your guard down a bit. A little vulnerability will allow others the opportunity to support you and empathize with you, and will also help you find the silver lining as you work through your challenges. This is not an invitation to have an endless pity party and to take advantage of others, but support can be just the thing you need to know that you are not alone. Then you can pick yourself up by your bootstraps, and experience the personal growth that comes with facing your hardships head on.
Once you admit the truth, please remind yourself that this hard time won’t last forever. Its temporary, as most things in life are. Change is the only constant. While you are going through a hard stage, it seems everlasting, which is silly when we look at it objectively. When you remove your emotions from the situation, you can come up with several examples of past experiences that were just that…past experiences. They are not ongoing, they were phases. This too shall pass. You may not understand it while living it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t pass. We only truly understand a situation and its purpose in retrospect. So allow yourself to surrender to hard, knowing that it won’t last forever.
As you go through your hard, it’s important to recognize that you have everything you need to make it through. Sometimes the difference between where you are now and where you will be after a hard phase is small, and other times it’s huge. The difference in progress doesn’t matter. You still have what you need to make it through. During hard times, you are forced to look at your life differently. Let’s take the demise of a relationship as an example. You depended on your significant other for things like comfort, companionship, love, intimacy, financial support, domestic support, affirmation, encouragement, security, friendship and a million other things. All of a sudden, those things are gone. It’s frightening and depressing, yet somehow you move forward. That’s because you have everything you need to move forward on your own. It’s easy to depend on others, but sometimes the demise of a relationship or anything else for that matter, is just what we need to recognize the power and resources we have within ourselves alone. Our dependence before was just part of our perception, not an actual life-sustaining need. The same goes for jobs and financials strains. In these situations, when it feels immensely hard, all those issues and explosions are there to get your attention and push you in a particular direction, allowing you to know your resilience, power, and independence. Your destiny, your muse.
During hard times, life is happening for you, not to you. Hard times often come with a loss, ranging from letting a piece of ourselves go to letting go of a loved one. In the face of hardship and loss, we have to strip ourselves of several layers to get back to the essence of who we are. We have put on layers of judgment, accolades, beliefs and responsibilities that do not serve us or our purpose. Losses allow us to shed those layers. Life happens to allow us to shed those layers. Hard happens to help you live your muse. If you choose to listen to your muse through hardships - if you let life’s lessons in - you will make it through hard. Hard could be the start of your good. It is life’s natural way of correcting and pushing you forward. Those issues that keep arising are strengthening your resilience. Those doors that keep closing are not your destiny. You simply have more perspective to gain before you are ready to live that destiny. One day you will understand it all in retrospect. We’re not meant to fully understand hard as it happens to us. We have to be okay with the unknown and find comfort in knowing we will get through the storm. Go live your muse with grace, and strengthen your ability to pause at hard.