Have a shit year? Have a year that just tanked?
I think we've all been there. The questions are, who did we choose to become as a result, what emotion did we default to, and what did we focus on?
Some hardships are easier than others, but I remember a Tony Robbins session in particular where he was giving a seminar on emotional mastery when 9/11 happened.
Now, Tony attracts a very multinational, eclectic crowd. There were people in the audience from every country and culture, and every background. (including an actual former suicide bomber turned peacekeeper, that's an incredible story!)
The question he asked the crowd was: What emotion did we default to?
There were people who were angry about it, sad about it, happy about it, guilty about it and more. And to each of them he asked the same question: Are you always XYZ?
Are you always angry? Is that your "home" emotion? Are you always frustrated? Is that how you find certainty in your life?
I think that's really a fascinating question.
What emotion do we default to?
One that I've striven for is "curiosity."
Sometimes it gets me in trouble (I mean, look at all those poor cats it's taken out over the years) but for the most part it has served me considerably better than anger. Another emotional response I enjoy as a home is that of humor and finding humor.
Again, that has gotten me in trouble a few times. (a funeral for example) but for the most part, humor is a good place to have as a default emotion.
Now, I don't always "win" the emotional setting war. There are times where I shoot right to anger - usually when my curiosity has been tested repeatedly and there "is no answer". That gets me going.
In fact, when I'm really mad, I'm usually the one yelling "why!?"
What do we focus on?
What we focus on defines our life. What questions we repeatedly ask define our future.
I think that if we have a shit year we need to ask ourselves how much of it was actually shit?
Did we have a shitty day, or was it actually a shitty hour? Was it a shitty hour, or was it really about fifteen minutes and then we just milked it? Could we have been happy in between all the little squirts of shit? Were there plenty of things throughout that time that could have given us purpose and joy that we ignored to wallow in our suffering? Worse, did we just want to make sure everyone else knew how much we should've been suffering?
I'm not trivializing.
I lost my life's work and my daughter back to back. I got angry. Really, really angry. I yelled why a lot, and I found a very... dark sense of humor. I get that a lot of people want to justify their anger for whatever it is they are going through right now. I did.
But here's the thing. My solution to get angry and cut myself off from people was a poor solution. As soon as I turned all of that pain into a project that would help people (the "This is everything I know" book) my life started turning itself around.
I think that's ultimately the solution to most negative emotions. Trying to serve. Because... we have to become more to properly serve. We have to grow. Having a service based project forces us to regain positive momentum.
Which brings me to...
Who did we become?
Shit happens to everyone. It's virtually guaranteed to happen to us all at some point or another. Some get mini piles every week, others get a big dump once a decade, but that shit happens.
"Ask not for an easy life, but for the strength to endure a hard one" is a very wise quote. Might've been Bruce Lee, not sure. The point is, it's a good quote.
In those moments where the shit is piling high around our shoulders we do get to ask ourselves that question. Who will I become? What novel will this be the middle of? What success will be born of this misery?
It's a good couple o' questions to ask.
PS talk. I know it sucks to talk about, but talk. Someone, somewhere, has either the interest to listen or has gone through something similar. Either way, talk. Find someone who will listen, and tell them what you want (just to vent, a solution, a brainstorming partner etc) Be clear what you want, and... talk.
It helps :)