Problems are a part of life – daily life. We face, interact with, and have to work alongside frustrating people day in and day out and we’re tempted, ever so tempted to think that the solution is in changing the circumstance, changing them. After all, it’s THEY who are the problem. Or maybe it’s the environment, it’s the job, the area, assignment, etc. Sometimes we may even leave and go somewhere else hoping to escape only to find a very similar problem is waiting for us there too.
It sounds logical and simple, when you don’t like where you’re at MOVE, right? But this is not the right answer because problems, people, and similar circumstances are everywhere, in every city, job, and project.
Pema Chodron once said, “Nothing goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. Even if we run one hundred miles an hour to the other side of the continent, we find the very same problem awaiting us when we arrive.”
I know you’re nodding your head in agreement because we’ve all experienced this. The not so secret secret to this is not in changing others or our circumstances but in learning to change and evolve into a new you, a you that is equipped to rise above the challenges.
Several years ago I was given this opportunity to work with a group of people on an project. I knew going into it that my personality didn’t quite mesh with one other on the team but decided to give it a go anyway and hope for the best.
It was a terrible idea and all I could think of on so many occasions was, “get me out of here!” I absolutely did not like working on that team. It wasn’t the project, it wasn’t the people, it wasn’t even the long amounts of time that we devoted to this project. But that one “thorn” in my side was just too unbearable. Then when I couldn’t take it anymore I resigned. I left because it was just too difficult in my opinion and where I was at personally at the time to continue working in that environment.
Then fast forward about four years and again I was presented with another project of somewhat of a similar nature. I jumped for joy at this opportunity to work in this capacity because the project itself was a novel and worthwhile endeavor and I wasn’t going to be working with that person so it was all good. Little did I know that there would once again be a new “thorn” to experience and work through. I felt the same pains, discomfort, annoyance, frustration, distaste for this circumstance in which I found myself and all the thoughts and feelings I had once felt were returning. Only this time I was wiser, more experienced and I didn’t shy away from this project (as much as I may have wanted to at times).
I had to spend a lot of time managing my thoughts regarding this circumstance and I learned more than I could have imagined because while we were working on this project, I realized I was really working on myself.
Pema is right, no matter where you go in the world you’re going to have your thorns pop up and prick you in the side. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be very uncomfortable, frustrating, and annoying at times too but don’t run away from it. Stay, learn from it. Let it teach you now what you need to know.
When those thorns pop up don’t run away face them head on. Instead of focusing on the injustice and how frustrating they are, focus on what you’re needing to learn. Why have you been given this opportunity? What kind of person are you when you’re not around them? How can you learn to be the kind of person you WANT to be around them? How do you want to feel?
You choose that. The circumstances never dictate how you’re going to feel, that’s a choice you make. Decide ahead of time. Expect them to act differently than you would. Expect that they’ll say or do things that you wouldn’t have said or done. Know that they’re going to act that way and you get to act and be who you want to be.
If you don’t like how you’re feeling, you have the power to change it. It starts with your thoughts. Pay close attention to what you’re thinking about them, about the circumstance, and about what you’re making this circumstance mean for you.
Problems will always be a part of our mortal experience. Consider it a challenge, an adventure and you, my friend, the conqueror. You’re stronger than you think. Face that challenge head on.
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