Monday, January 30, 2012

5 Ways to Transform External Pressure Into Internal Heat (Read Time: 4 min.)

What does it take to light an internal fire when everything around you feels like it's up in flames?

Life has its tough times, moments when you feel like you're a split second away from breaking.  It's in these moments that character is born.  But what do you do when the pressure on the outside restricts the momentum and drive on the inside? 

How do you turn what feels like neverending stress into unyielding persistence?

For a long time, I thought that life was about savoring the good times, holding onto those blissful moments when everything is well with the world.  The more of life I experience, the more I see that the "blissful" moments aren't the most important ones.  In fact, rarely is a "good" time a monumental experience.  It's good, yes.  Monumental?  No.

It is when we are faced with an unexpected, trying experience that who we really are makes a grand entrance.  It is in those moments when our faith is tested and our wills are tried that we learn what we're really made of... and the victory that comes from being able to outlast even the worst of tragedies is where we realize how good the "good" in life truly is. 

So what do you do when you can't seem to catch a break and life just keeps sending you experiences that test the strength of your courage?

You figure out a way to transform external pressure into internal heat. 

Here are five ways to do that:
  1. Accept the fact that whatever situation you've been given, you've been given it due to capacity and not ineptitude AND THEN decide to do the best with the situation that you can.  There are three parts to this point: 1- you don't get anything you can't handle, 2- you can handle it in such a way that you make the situation work for you and not against you, 3- you must make a clear decision that out of this situation, ONLY good will come.  Do these three things and you'll have victory on your hands before you know it.
  2. Create your testimony in advance.  Instead of focusing on the present circumstances, imagine the victory speech that comes after you overcome this obstacle.  Begin telling your testimony now.  Experience gratitude for how far you've come now.  See the end and live from that place NOW.
  3. Ask for more, go for more.  People often make the huge mistake of getting smaller in trials and tribulations.  Remember: obstacles come to expand you, not contract you.  It's important to remember that when a situation feels like it's too much to bare, you have to step up to the plate boldly and expect even more.  It makes no sense to be on the verge of losing your home and expect to lose your home, become homeless, and envision yourself pushing around a grocery basket in tattered, dirty clothes.  Why aspire to something so below your worth?  No, when in the tough of the tough, you have to ask for more.  Asking for less got you here.  Asking for more will get you there.  Not only do you have to ask for more but you have to believe for more.  Do you have a crummy job?  Don't put your faith in keeping the crummy job you have.  Dust off your resume and put your heart and faith that there's a better opportunity out there for you and this crummy job is simply lighting a fire under you to get out in the job market and move on.  Again, this is not about pretending.  It's about intending.
  4. Find a role model who's been through what you're going through and read his/her story over and over again.  Sometimes, all it takes to rebuild momentum is to be reminded that you are not alone.  There are those who've been there, done that and have the scars to prove it.  Reading a memoire or biography of someone who's been through your hell and has lived to tell what's on the other side is just the thing you need to get yourself out of pity-party mode and into take-your-life-back action.
  5. Rewrite the story of the life you're living.  At some point, you've got to decide what your happy ending looks like... and not settle for anything less.  You are the writer of your life.  No matter what the situation, at some point, you've got to decide how to narrate the story.  Tell a powerfully different story and you'll see how what seemed like an obstacle starts to look a lot like an opportunity.  For example, a person might say "My life is horrible.  After twenty years of marriage, my husband left me to raise two kids by myself.  Now I'm 50 and I'm alone and I don't have anyone.  I never finished college.  I'm doing a job I hate and my kids don't even call me.  My life's been a real nightmare."  At 50, this woman can continue telling this story for twenty or thirty more years... OR she can rewrite the story and tell a totally different experience.  She could say the following: "In the last thirty years, I've learned so much about myself.  I spent fifteen years in a marriage that was truly unhappy and I learned that I don't have to settle for less than I deserve.  My husband left me to be with someone else and I was sad for a while.  But, one day, I figured out that his leaving taught me that I could stand on my own two feet and raise two children by myself.  Those two kids are now adults and they have wonderful families of their own.  They graduated from college and have great lives and I know that they are a legacy that I was able to help build.  Even though I don't see them as much as I'd like to, it gives me joy and peace to know that they're okay.  They're more than okay. They're happy.  Now that I'm 50, I realize that it's high time I found my happiness.  The same way I worked two jobs and raised two kids is the same way I can now find my own happiness.  I have the time.  I have some money and I now know that I don't have to compromise my life for anyone.  This is a great time to start again and you know what?  I'm finally ready to do that."  Now experience the difference.  Same life circumstances, two totally different stories.  If you were this woman, which story would you rather be telling?

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