DON’T STOP! KEEP ON GOING!
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
The words above convey power … personal power, communal power, and societal power.
I just finished reading the book titled “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. It was highly recommended to me by more than one person. It is the fictional story of two sisters during World War II. (See: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21853621-the-nightingale.) For anyone who has seen the horrors of war or who has survived the horrors of abuse and torture or who has been close to someone who has been a victim of the aforementioned, this book has even more depth as well as hope.
Life does not always bring success in the way we hoped. Sometimes success comes after a person’s death. We all heard stories of starving artists whose works of arts are admired and loved after their deaths. It may take generations for families to heal from generational abuse and to fully escape from it. Life evolves.
How do we continue? How do we go forth when life’s trials seem overwhelming or never-ending? How do we keep enthusiasm and hope within our hearts? Sometimes the trials are over, but the heart is worn or the body is failing. What motivates us to progress with dignity and integrity?
David Brooks, New York Times columnist, recently wrote an article called “Making Modern Toughness” regarding resiliency and finding your purpose. The article resonated with me for several reasons. One reason is that being resilient does not mean hard or insensitive or stoic. That belief coincides with my desire to keep my heart open and not to turn off my vulnerability by becoming hard. David Brooks writes:
“Perhaps it’s time to rethink toughness or at least detach it from hardness. Being emotionally resilient is not some defensive posture. It’s not having some armor surrounding you so that nothing can hurt you.
The people we admire for being resilient are not hard; they are ardent. They have a fervent commitment to some cause, some ideal or some relationship. That higher yearning enables them to withstand setbacks, pain and betrayal.
Such people are, as they say in the martial arts world, strong like water. A blow might sink into them, and when it does they are profoundly affected by it. But they can absorb the blow because it’s short term while their natural shape is long term.
There are moments when they feel swallowed up by fear. They feel and live in the pain. But they work through it and their ardent yearning is still there, and they return to an altered wholeness.”
Just as the people in the book, “The Nightingale” were resilient mostly due to having a purpose .. an individual and/or a societal purpose, David Brooks also connects resiliency with having a purpose. Brooks states:
“We are all fragile when we don’t know what our purpose is, when we haven’t thrown ourselves with abandon into a social role, when we haven’t committed ourselves to certain people, when we feel like a swimmer in an ocean with no edge.
If you really want people to be tough, make them idealistic for some cause, make them tender for some other person, make them committed to some worldview that puts today’s temporary pain in the context of a larger hope.
Emotional fragility seems like a psychological problem, but it has only a philosophical answer. People are really tough only after they have taken a leap of faith for some truth or mission or love. Once they’ve done that they can withstand a lot.”
(Here is the link to David Brook’s full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/opinion/making-modern-toughness.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fdavid-brooks&action=click&contentCollection=opinion®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0)
Various stages of life bring different challenges. Life goals that are of great importance at one stage may be of less importance at another stage of life. Where do you lie? What desires of yours are pulling you forward to your goals? What gives you reason to live and to keep on trying?
When do you decide to change focus? How many failures in one area of your life does it take before you decide to change the focus? Wisdom is needed to decide when to move on to a new goal and when to stay with the one you are attempting to reach at this moment. Sharing your thoughts with another person, especially one who has traveled a similar road, may be extremely beneficial as well as reaching within yourself for your inner wisdom.
Many survivors of abuse and trauma, especially in childhood, were not raised to be comfortable exploring, attempting, and “failing”. Failure was not allowed in many abusive households. Get it right the first time or don’t do it at all may have been learned. A “B” on a report card may have represented failure to a parent who was the child’s abuser/perpetrator. Perfection was the goal and failure by the victim to achieve perfection was almost a given in these traumatic household situations.
Life does not have to be that way. It is okay to explore jobs, career options, hobbies, friendships, and relationships of all kinds. It is beneficial to make and take time to find what fulfills you, to meet and connect with a person on a deeper level, and to find a spiritual community or spiritual practice that touches your heart deeply.
Go out into the world … explore …. It is not necessary to make a long-term commitment. Of course, you may choose to commit long-term to a person or a career or to a spiritual community or spiritual practice.
Take a step back especially if you are feeling like a failure. Take many steps back and look at the bigger picture. So, your job did not work out for you or others. A relationship ended. A vacation you planned and took did not work out as you desired. You took lessons to learn a hobby only to discover you did not enjoy it. That is okay! All these are life lessons.
What did you learn? What did the experience teach you? Did the lesson point you in a different direction?
Are you in a pattern? Would it help to discuss this with someone? Sometimes a life coach or someone not close to you can shine light where you do not see any. What is truly important to you? What are you searching to find? Sometimes we need to reach inside ourselves to make important self-discoveries. Even going inside oneself may be an exploration … an exploration and experience of your inner self. It is exciting! An adventure!
Many of us tend to forget, especially when overwhelmed or stressed, that life may be filled with joyous and pleasant moments as well as challenges. Life is filled with wonderful surprises – big & little ones!
When we let go of our fear and experience the present moment with our awareness in the moment, life may surprise us! A job you decide to try that is out-of-the-box may be your best fit! A mate may be discovered in the next singles’ meetup you attend or even in your local coffee shop! An acquaintance may become your best friend. Loneliness lessens!
Don’t stop! Keep on going!
Take chances …
Keep moving forward …
Be willing to change …
Discover your purpose!
Find the love in life (and in yourself)!
Find compassion (and self-compassion)!
Find the joy!