We all face hard times and it always seems like they come at the worst moment possible. I fully understand that trials and difficulty are a natural part of life. But there are days when neither the word “trials”nor “difficulty” can capture the essence of the challenge.
Days when life seems more like walking a battle field with a thousand corpses heaped up in a gory, bloody mass. The stench of death stinging your nostrils, inviting the vultures circling ominously overhead to dine.
During these times, a simple, well placed word of encouragement can become a beam of sunlight striking through the clouds. It’s easy enough to say, “hang in there man” or “just keep a positive outlook, it’ll get better”.
Really though, have you ever stopped to wonder if that’s really what the person needs? Would it be what you need given the same situation?
What I mean is, sometimes words aren’t enough. They don’t express that you are in there with them. Battling back to back. Or that you’re ready to pull them out in a moment’s notice if the battles that rages isn’t worth the fight or isn’t justified.
We need two hands, a hand to join in combat and one for the face to call us back to reality. That’s what friends do, (note that when I speak of friends I speak of kin-it could be our partner, our family, or a friend-the word is interchangeable). They offer simple and basic hope. Hope, the breadcrumb trail letting us know there is a way out. That someone is on the other end of that trail that gave a shit enough to lay the trail in the first place. I thank God for those kin. Sometimes that has been my wife, sometimes my sister, sometimes a friend.
At the end of the day however, we must be steel enough to lay our own path. To fight on our own. Knowing that when the sun rises we will stand on the carnage and we will stand victorious. We need to know that we are made of steel strong enough to face the demons of the night alone.
How do you stand in the face of such mental adversity, turbulence, war? Here are three ways you can remain steadfast during the battle:
All around you there are stories of people who have overcome such insurmountable odds that even if your arms were ripped from their sockets and used to beat you, it would be better than their lot.
When I was in the Philippines, I watched as a father and son walked down a lonely sidewalk at night. The father was slightly bent. Somewhat from holding the hand of his 2-year-old and somewhat from the heaviness of life. They carried, what I assume was all they owned with them. I stood on the corner of the street taking in the sounds and smells of the night when they caught my eye. When they were about 50 yards away from me heading the opposite direction, the son tugged on his dad’s shorts. The dad looked down at his son and set everything down except for a cardboard box. He placed the box in such a manner that it created a wall shielding his son from the traffic in the street. His son then proceeded to take a dump on the side walk. When he was done. The father picked up his belongings, took his sons hand and proceeded to walk on.
That man is a hero to me. I know that I will likely never have to face something as hard as his life. The challenges, the battles that I face are a pittance compared to his. This perspective and many others like it, remind me that above all else, I am blessed.
Change your dialogue
I’m not talking about The Power of Positive Thinking. I want to go deeper with this. This is about not giving into pessimistic thinking.
Understand that nothing is permanent. Usually, people who give up, either by a gun in the mouth or just checking out; believe that whatever it is they are going through is going to last forever. They see no way out.
I have been lucky enough to have been at the bottom. Jobless, homeless during Upstate New York winter and have lost some very close friends. Going through the experiences was hell and yes, they seemed as if they would never end. But they do. And I moved on. The taste and sting of each witnessed moment still there.
To be honest, they serve to add certain hue to my life that no one else will ever know. I cannot begin to bring anyone else into any of those moments with me. The pain is mine, I own it. And crawling from my knees to stand again after being knocked down, bludgeoned and left for dead is mine as well. I own that coloring just as much. Learning to speak to yourself from the experience, owning it as your own, will help carry you through the battle.
Reinforce the positive
Reinforce the positive
Our ancestors would gather together under the stars and around the fire deep into the night. During these times, they would tell the tales of glorious battles won and those who had fallen along the way. Many stories would be shared which would impart a legacy to the next generation. More than that, I believe that these moments were cathartic.
This, almost ritualistic cleansing of the blade left a pallet clean for the next day’s fight. Their souls cleansed through kinship. The message here is, after the battle is fought or in the midst of the battle, get out there and get social. Grab your partner or a friend and talk it through. Recount the moments when you thought you would fail, or where you are failing. And then hold each other up.
I’ll sum it up here. Be proactive, be open, be honest and surround yourself with kin.