June 30, 2015

Life Skills #8: Pliability (Bent, but Unbroken)

There are such times when life's troubles can be so unbearable wherein a deep sense of helplessness and self pity and loneliness and rage all at once gnaws its way into your heart and eats you from the inside.

Indeed, we will all have our dark moments. And it is in those times that our true colors are revealed. Or reversed.

Some succumb to despair and never recover (they break). But there are those who can weather the darkest moments in their lives and come through unscathed. Like an oak tree, they bend but do not break. Wouldn’t you want to be one of them?

This is the one life skill we need the most in this restless and confused world we’re living in today. It is the ability to accept all the punches and fireballs life hurls your way and yet remain unfazed, holding steadfast to your values, no matter what the consequences. It is when pain and sorrow and hard times bend your back and knock you flat to the ground, but still you will rise and trudge on. Pliability.

We can overcome our worst troubles if we are pliable. Here are a 3 practical tips to help us all learn /enhance this life skill today:
  • Stop taking (almost) everything personally. Realize that it's not always about you. Most of the time, nothing others do or how they behave has anything to do with you personally. When you always take things personally, you are giving other people more power over you than they deserve or should ever be allowed. Instead, make it a habit to create a space between yourself and your reactions and evaluate the truth about any given situation.

  • Stop beating yourself up over (even the least of your) mistakes. We all know it is a success-driven world we’re living in—at work, at home, at church, at our community—and the pressure to succeed is so daily we cringe at the slightest hint of “failure”. There's this voice inside of you that berates you for less than wise choices or decisions so that just the thought of being "not good enough" gives you a crippling feeling. So, you beat yourself up. Stop! Never take the blame for anything that is beyond your control. Love yourself.

  • Start each day thoughts of with gratitude and appreciation for everyday things. Gratitude is a habit that’s almost impossible to unlearn. And it has the power to pull in a chain of good things into your life if you only learn to practice it everyday—in your thoughts, actions, and words. From the cup of coffee you'd enjoy each morning to the safe ride home you'd get into at the end of the day, appreciate everything and fill your life with so much gratitude that even the worst times cannot easily break your spirit.
What we think of, what we look at, where we spend our time, and what we feel most strongly about everyday can either shield us or expose us when life hurls the worst blows yet. So, live consciously. Be habitually mindful. Focus more on the good things in your life such that one bad blow will never again break you down so easily. Be pliable.
“Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong.” ~ Zen Proverb