Week Ending December 28th, 2018
Content Covered: Who are we in difficult situations?
There are some moments in life, for which no amount of preparation will ever be enough.
At times you’ll be the receiver, other times the giver. And these difficult situations will take everything you have to offer, and give very little in return.
Through the back and forth you’ll begin to question your identity, your decisions, you presence, your importance. In the span of a few moments everything will come crashing around you, and you’ll wonder what is real and what is just a dream…
It is in the presence of this kind of uncertainty that character is tested. Because even after we feel like everything has been taken from us, we still have one thing left; we still have the ability to choose our attitude.*
How we choose to respond, in face of uncertainty, will always be our choice.
Sometimes, we are able to discern this in the difficult moment itself. Other-times we realize this a little bit after the storm has passed; nonetheless the point remains: once we become aware that this difficulty is indeed real, and we ask ourselves what next? I hope we can all find the courage to dig deep within our soul and choose ourselves.
Often, when we are hurting, first we look to blame -the other, the situation, the self, anything, anything other than the fact that this is now be carved as reality. Then we look for why’s and logical reasons to “understand” the situation, we micro-analyze words and all exchanges, because we are looking for a “reasons for the pain,” and once we find our reasons, we then begin creating a narrative of why this happened and what we can do about it.
While this cycle is completely normal, after all narratives are how we understand the world and ourselves; when it comes to difficult situations – coping with the reality that is being created is a lot less about trying to ascribe meaning or assign blame. Rather when it comes to difficult situations the ultimate ask is that of reconciling the self created “self-identity” and the other perceived “self-identity”.
The true ask of a difficult situation is to take the perspective that the other presents about you, and your perspective of your self and reconcile the information. When we take this approach in difficult situations, we regain our ability to choose our attitude regardless of the circumstances. Because instead of the other, the focus becomes the self.
In the process of reconciling the different perspectives of our self identity we begin updating the narrative of “who I am.” At times we will anchor deeper into the values that we believe to be true about ourselves, and at other times we will listen to what the other says about us, and contemplate the validity of their words.
This is why, according to me, the true ask of a difficult situation is to identify, express and anchor the self in a set of character values that you see yourself representing. That’s all.
It isn’t about right and wrong. It isn’t about assigning blame or looking for evidence. It isn’t about trying to fix the situation. Because at the end, people will do what they want to do. And once we accept this truth, the next time we find ourselves in a difficult situation, our focus should shift to the last of our human freedoms – choosing how we wish to respond, and who we want to become, given the set of circumstances.
*Adapted from Viktor E. Frankl’s original quote