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Our lives are filled with challenges – whether it’s someone cutting us off in traffic or receiving some life-altering news that we didn’t expect. We can’t always prevent the challenges, but we can change the way we view and process them.
Here are 3 spiritual tips to find calm in the chaos:
1. Focus on the bigger picture: the challenge is just one aspect of your life, not the totality. When something upsetting or disappointing happens to us, we tend to focus solely on the problem, making it the center of our lives. We dwell on it, question why it happened, and wallow in the pain. When we do this, we turn a blind eye to the enormous blessings we have in our lives. The great Kabbalist known as the Baal Shem Tov likens it to being outside on a beautiful, sunny day and putting pennies over your eyes. Even pennies, which are essentially worthless, can blot out the great force and light of the sun. We do the same thing when we allow our challenges to conceal the abundant Light of the Creator in our lives.
In reality, no matter what we are going through, it is almost never the full story. If we look at our lives as a whole, the truth is we have far more blessings than challenges. The hard part is staying aware of that in the toughest times. Some challenges are easier than others to keep this perspective. This way of thinking is like a muscle that needs to be developed over time.
When small setbacks occur, tell yourself, “I am not going to allow this to obscure the great Light of my life.” Practice with the small problems and annoyances, and it will better prepare you for the bigger issues.
2. Remind yourself that you’ve made it through other challenges and come out stronger. The most profound life-changing moments sometimes start with things being uncomfortable or painful.Some of the most important skills we develop or wisdom we gain stem from times of difficulty.
When a new challenge arises, think about another challenge you had in the past that you were able to overcome. Remind yourself how dire that situation had seemed and how you not only got through it but actually grew from it. Maybe you realized it was actually an amazing blessing that changed you for the better.
Everything that happens to you is meant to happen. It may not seem right or fair in the moment, but with time, we gain clarity. We only ever see one paragraph of a chapter in our lives at a time. But if we are able to see 5 or 10 years into the future with the story complete, we would never be able to question any process we have done through. Trying to hold on to this thought during the challenge, and not just after it’s over, will help you trust the process and have certainty that there is a blessing in the challenge.
3. Ask yourself if the challenge is a worthwhile trade for all the other blessings you have. We don’t usually think of our challenges as the reason for all of the good things in our lives. We often view them as hurdles to overcome or setbacks towards reaching our goals. However, the wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that we can never earn or keep our blessings without some form of spiritual payment. And sometimes, that payment comes in the form of a challenge.
Everyone has positive and negative parts of themselves. There are some negative actions we do that bring negativity back upon ourselves. What we experience in life is an effect of our actions. At a basic level, the difficulties we experience are either necessary to transform us or act as a way for us to earn and keep our blessings.
The important perspective to keep is that our challenges are often far outweighed by the abundant blessings we have. If you were to break an expensive vase, would that be worthwhile payment to keep your family, your health, your home, and your job? If somebody said something negative about you on Instagram, would that be worthwhile payment for all the blessings you have? When the pain is very big, it’s hard to do this, but it does not take away from the truth of this reality.
Ask yourself: am I willing to go through these challenges as payment to keep everything I have? Is this payment worthwhile if it is payment for all of the rest? The answer is almost always yes.
Stress, pain, and challenges are all part of the human experience. What would your life be like if, instead of resisting them, you viewed them as opportunities to grow, learn, and earn blessings? How much more appreciation and gratitude would you have? It takes a lot of patience and practice, but you can develop the ability to reframe your consciousness. Focus on the big picture, remind yourself of the growth you’ve already undergone, and know that your challenges are a worthy exchange for your blessings.