As challenges come along in life I notice we are often rush out to meet them in our weakest and most frightened states. Perhaps we've gotten so used to being harried, tired and behind the eight ball that we don't even notice we've rallied up our most inadequate capacities and gone straight out to try to resolve our most important issues.
I have been thinking about the resiliency of the Human Spirit and as I reflected on the nature of all of our "spirit" a rather dis-spiriting idea occurred to me. How many times have I had an important decision, a delicate conversation or a really tough life challenge, and allowed myself to try to resolve it using my poorest mindset? The answer was, unfortunately, many times!
- agreeing to have "the talk" about your relationship when you are tired or have been drinking
- standing up to confront a co-worker about a bad habit while thinking "that was the last straw!"
- correcting or disciplining children in the heat of anger
- talking to the boss after you've already missed the deadline and haven't slept well
It is common to all of us to lose our way, lose our temper and address issues when we know that our our mental capacities are on low ebb. Everyone can get stretched and find themselves with less of their normal abilities in any given moment.
Of course it would be great to say that we could recognize this is the case in advance and then be sensible enough not to "go for it." But the very real problem with this is that it is precisely in your poorest mental state that you are least likely to listen to your very good sense.
So is there any good end to this cycle?
What this tells me is that we are getting good information all the time. It shows me that we are not cut off from our good sense, our best advice and our most loving nature — no matter how badly things are going on the outside.
These moments of sanity, even if we don't listen to them, are significant.
I already know that nothing that happens on the outside of me has any power whatsoever to get inside and change my mood. Only I can do that. So it must be that all of this is just part of the ups and downs of my internal dialogues, most of which comes in so fast that I've no idea it's there until I'm feeling bad.
I talk more about this on the radio show called "The Human Spirit Rises" but one thing sticks out strongly in my mind. If we have these impulses to good, and they are not conditional on us sitting on a yoga mat or praying or anything else — if they arise in the midst of my worst moments — that must mean that my connection to my own equilibrium is always there. Just waiting for me to notice, but unaffected by my current state.
It must mean that there is something larger than I am that makes up by more balanced and buoyant self and that the quality of that self is restorative. In other words, that it naturally restores itself within me.
If I really knew that this was true, perhaps that in itself would begin to transform my dealings with others and the way I meet the challenges in my life.