When Life Feels Hard 

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There is a myth in the new age community that, if you’re doing it right, life is supposed to be easy; that if you surrender to the flow of the universe and dwell in a state of deep appreciation, life will roll out its proverbial red carpet, and in every moment, you will be presented with divine connections and opportunities. This myth applies to the religious community as well, as people seem to make a correlation between their good behavior and the blessings they hope to receive in return. Further, others have the belief that if they work hard and are kind, life will reciprocate with prosperity (quite possibly a house with a picket fence and a dreamy significant other), be it from a divine source, or just because it’s comforting to believe that the Universe operates out of the notion of fairness. It is because of this that some of the most trying times are a result of feeling that an outcome was unjust. Oftentimes, the question that can be the most painful is: Why me? What did I do to deserve this?

Regardless of your character or moral compass, life can not only feel really hard, it can be really hard. Life can be expensive, draining, and filled with sickness, heartbreak, and loneliness. It doesn’t matter how organized your sock drawer is, or how much you’ve donated to charity, no one gets a pass from sadness.

The truth is, we’ve incarnated on this crazy planet for the purpose of having every experience imaginable, from the transcendent to the trivial, from the ecstatic to the infuriating, and everything in between. We were born to experience the entire enchilada: euphoric moments, as well as insufferable despair. We were born to feel and to have every experience, even the most painful, because we are consciousness experiencing what it’s like to play the role of human being.

The human mind cannot grasp this concept, as it is continually seeking for meaning and order as a way of defining existence. It cannot grapple with a God who would allow babies to die, husbands to cheat, or children to go without Christmas presents, or clean water. The human mind is continually seeking what’s fair, what’s logical, and what’s “right”. If you persist in listening to your mind when it declares that a situation wasn’t fair, or it wasn’t right when your boss gave the promotion to someone else, or it feels like a punishment that you should manifest an autoimmune disease, then I’ve got news for you: Life can feel hard, because life can be hard, and even if you’re on a noble path and are doing your best, you can’t change the very nature of reality.

That being said, how do you cope with life (and even flourish) when you’re really up against it? How can you perceive difficult situations in a way that serves you, meaning, it fits in with your worldview and your interpretations result in a feeling of orderliness, as if all of life weren’t a random game of Russian Roulette. One minute, you’re happy and you’re family’s healthy, and the next minute, you’d give anything to quit your job, and you’re son’s knocking up the neighbor’s daughter? What do you do? Here are 3 shifts you can make to better cope with life when it’s knocked you on straight your bottom and you feel like you can’t get up:

#1 Understand that you’re not God.

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The metaphysical text A Course in Miracles says that our biggest problem is an authority problem; we think we are God. Following this precept, it’s easy to see how your mind would continually dictate what should and shouldn’t happen. You wake up, and before you can even brew a pot of coffee, your mind is off and running: It’s raining today. That’s a shame, because I can’t picnic in the rain. I hope James brings an umbrella. He’ll probably forget. He’s not good with that kind of stuff. I’ll need to buy some havarti cheese. I’ll drive to the supermarket before I go to the gym. Your mind begins making plans, as you try to figure out the day, only to be disappointed later, when a thunderstorm hits, the car breaks down, and James not only didn’t bring an umbrella, he completely forgot that there was even a picnic on the schedule. 

The mind begins to complain, and you come to believe that life is hard, which often means two things: 1)it’s unfair, and 2)It’s uncontrollable. This is because you cannot control life. You can attract things into your reality, as you are a co-creator, but you are, in no way, God, and this fact is exceptionally frustrating.

#2 Shift to a state of allowance.

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Once you’ve coped with the fact that you’re not God the Almighty, the next step is to decide that it’s easier to shift to a state of allowance, rather than resisting that which you cannot change, such as the weather, or the actions of others. You can do this by shifting your thoughts, which then affects your mood. Instead of letting your mind go off on a diatribe about how your boss acted like an asshole, interrupt your thought stream by repeating a mantra that I learned from James, a contestant (and ultimately, the winner of The Great British Baking Show: The Beginnings) which is: What’s done is done and cannot be undone. Another way of saying this is: It is what it is. While it’s possible to view this as apathetic, or worse still, pessimistic, the truth is that it’s a matter of shifting your state of being back to neutral. It’s about bringing yourself back to peace. Allow the current circumstances, especially if they suck, and raise your white flag. If it helps, stand under the moon and shout to God (in a fury, if you must): What’s done is done and cannot be undone!

#3 Let the hard stuff fuel your goodness.

When life feels especially miserable, when your lover has left you, your cat has the flu, and your roommate has sawed your sofa in half in the name of minimalism, the antidote to your suffering s become a better person. 

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Yes, life sucks, and you can choose to show up as a peaceful and positive badass. Yes, your ex-boyfriend is an asshole, and you can still be a fierce and fabulous vixen. Yes, you’re not making the salary you’d like, and your savings just went down the toilet after that unexpected accident, but you can still decide to be kinder, cultivate new talents and hobbies, and step outside of your comfort zone. 

This is the best way to refuse to let life (an other people) keep you down: Show up as the best version of you possible, kick ass, and take names. Shake off what’s happened and move forward. Let your stinky boss fuel your desire to get another degree. Let your ex fuel your desire to go to the gym, or learn a new language. Let your crummy apartment fuel your desire to finally move to your dream city. Use the negativity to carve out even more meaning in your life. 

Here’s the thing: With the correct shift in perception, you can change tragedy into triumph. Don’t try to fight life when it is difficult, as that will only make you feel like you’re rowing upstream without a paddle. Instead, accept it, and give it meaning by using it as fuel to motivate you to be even more of an awesome badass. Life can be hard, but it can also be whatever we want it to be, as you’re always a thought away from shifting how you perceive any moment.