From Our Readers
September 28, 2014 6:30 am

Life is full of awful moments that only experience can teach us to anticipate. The cautious-hearted amongst us try to avoid these moments altogether, but when we can’t, it sends us into a frenzy. Why? Well, because we are emotionally unprepared: we are not dealing with reality, so when it all unfolds, we’re unsure of what to do. We panic.

What we should train ourselves to do is to embrace these moments, not just for the challenges they present, but also for the opportunities they create once we’ve overcome them. While there are many unenjoyable situations scattered across our lives, below are three standard situations where embracing the horrible moments is the best practice.

1. Every little thing annoys you and you feel like you might explode

You spilled the coffee everywhere, the printer ran out of toner (what even is that?) when you actually needed it, you left your wallet at home and only realized after you’d ordered your latte — yep, it’s one of those days. Even before getting to work/friends/other obligations, you’re on edge. It’s the perfect time, though, to embrace the decision: petulance or progression? You could spend the day thinking about what a bad day you’re having (already!), but know that this thinking is a distraction which causes more errors than fixes. Instead, see the horrible moment of frustration as your opportunity. The second you feel the pang of frustration and soon-to-be tears/anger/emotions, say to yourself, “OK. Now is the time to take twenty minutes and get myself together and start again.”

However busy you are, know that these twenty minutes of respite will compensate for any lost time. In that twenty minutes (or however long you need): remove yourself from the idea you’re a victim of anything but your own thoughts, breathe calmly and deeply, have your favorite drink/snack — whatever you need. The point is to isolate yourself from your frustration and get your focus back. After all, it’s better to do your best job than a rushed and angry one. Wouldn’t it be better to end the day saying “Well, it started off really badly but turned out really good”? So, embrace that horrible pre-explosion moment, choose progression, and turn those days into epic fireworks instead.

2. They said, “No.”

Your boss. Your friends. Your family. Your crush(es). The existential universe. The man at the fries stand when you’re asking for more mustard. They all say “no” at some point, usually at the exact moment when you really wanted them to say “yes.” It can be as devastating as it is demotivating when you feel like you’re missing out on something you really wanted. However, we should learn to embrace the “no.”  You see, when you no longer fear the “no,” you get better at asking for things. No one can answer a question they’ve never been asked, and you’ve got to ask for what you want. There’s a profound courage in facing not getting what you want, for the sake of an answer and subsequent moving-on-up vibes. Imagine creating a reality for yourself where you can ask anything, because “no” doesn’t mean it’s over, it just means something is beginning.

3. You don’t like someone, and you’re pretty sure they don’t like you, either

You know when you meet that person, who, for reasons somewhat unknown to you, just gets on your nerves? Maybe something about them doesn’t connect with you, and you sense they have the same feeling about you. The funny thing is that past-me would have tried to have these non-likers actually like me. Which is kind of exhausting, and a symptom of insecurities. One day, though, and this was the only benefit of my corporate life, I attended a compulsory seminar and the instructor said, “70% of people will not like you just from looking at you. So, this can never be your focus.” Despite the questionable statistics, he did make a valid point about not spending your energy where you shouldn’t.

When you come across these non-likers, simply acknowledge the difference internally and embrace the people and things that you do like, instead. Acknowledging the difference in others, and accepting they may not like you, is stating that you truly believe you are not the value of someone else’s opinion, nor are they the value of yours. Something kind of beautiful can happen, too: you open a space for these people to exist with an indifference, and sometimes the two of you grow and evolve to actually like one another as a result.

In fact, life gets a little easier and becomes a little more beautiful when you embrace the difficult moments. Sure, it’s a process and mostly not a fun one, but progression rarely is. The exciting thing is, you get to decide how you run your life. Life is yours for the making, and the horrible moments don’t have to define it.

Kate Bailey is an Australian writer based in Berlin, Germany where she runs Little Joy, an independent publisher. Kate is currently working on her first novel, titled Rubble Women.

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