Someone close to me is going through a very difficult time. This person hasn’t been feeling well and is undergoing the process of waiting for various diagnostic tests to reveal or rule out some very serious causes. The anxiety has become unmanageable and this poor soul is almost paralyzed with dread. Fear has truly become an all consuming ring of fire and created an unpredictable emotional state that has left those who love this dear friend insecure, exhausted and unsure of how to help.
The book I recently finished (The Obstacle is the Way) describes fear as debilitating, destructive, tiring and often irrational. While no one can doubt for a minute that concerns, fears and doubts feel “real,” we always have to remind ourselves that these emotions ultimately have very little bearing on what is-or is not true, or possible, or what will (or will not) happen.
The author encourages the reader to allow his or her struggles to propel them to a “new level of functioning”..to see hardship as a period of refinement. The bible itself is full of stories describing hardship as the process of melting and re-shaping gold and silver into new and beautiful creations while removing the “impurities.”
I know, I know..it’s much easier said than done, but at the end of the day, no matter what is going on in our lives, we alone control our emotions, judgement, creativity, attitude, perspective, desires, decisions and determination.
“Focusing exclusively on what is in our power,
enhances our power..”
and yet so many times we focus almost EXCLUSIVELY on that which we cannot control.
Runaway emotions do not provide any sort of clarity or open up our field of vision to a path forward, peace in the moment or plausible options. Grace and poise must precede any opportunity to plug in the coping mechanisms we have at our disposal according to Ryan Holiday’s study of the stoics.
When my son was little, his teacher told him that she was sure he was smart and had many important things to share, but his penmanship was so awful, she said she could never decipher what his thoughts actually were.
Runaway emotions are just like that …mental scribble that obscures logic, reason, truth, peace, faith and a path forward.
No matter the situation we find ourselves in, Ryan Holiday exhorts us to see hardship as a period of refinement which can ultimately bring forth our best self. Step one is to clear the mind of emotional scribble so we can accept with clarity what we cannot change and then craft a sensible, informed, non-reactionary response to the challenge.
Psalm 66:10- For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.