I once lived in an ashram where hours of time would be put into very detailed and laborious tasks, such as filing tens of thousands of letters, painting a meditation hall or peeling hundreds of pounds of apples. At some point well towards the end of an exhaustive assignment, the teacher would come by and notice a very small but essential mistake that the success of the entire project was contingent upon. And so we had to start over from the very beginning. It was excruciating. Although the running joke was that the SYDA acronym for the retreat center actually stood for, So You Do it Again, few were actually laughing when we had to backtrack and restart the task at hand, albeit with a greater understanding of the importance of thorough forethought, and the challenging spiritual task of making peace with the process at hand.
Have you ever in life or business, been moving along swiftly and steadily towards a specific goal, where everything is going according to plan, and then –BAM — you get a phone call or receive some bad news and you feel like it’s all gone to pot, it’s hopeless? Maybe your computer system or laptop crashes, or the budget is unexpectedly sliced in half in the middle of your project. Or things are just taking way longer than expected to come to fruition, as in my recent struggle to get this blog post up. A common story: My recent move to a traditional blog was conceived a year ago. The web designers quoted a two to three week turn around for the changes I desired. I expected 6 weeks. It took five months. Needless to say, I had a wild romp with frustration.
How do you recover from the inevitable setbacks life throws your way, especially when you have a team of workers or a family behind you? Sometimes, resiliency — that feeling of bouncing back into the game, can be hard to access, even with the most seasoned leaders and all the best advice. Especially in the face of feelings of despair, or the sense that some dream is forever lost and/or you are no longer on your path. It not only takes patience to achieve your goals, it takes patience to make peace with the process of achieving them.
It seems to be especially hard for us Americans to understand that life is always a process. The notion that one day you are going to finish growing and be complete –beyond all this annoying life stuff– is terribly persistent despite the many personal examples each of us has that it is not so. How to make peace with process? Here are some actions and thought paradigms that might help you stay connected to and at peace with your process of evolution no matter what’s happening in your world. And while you use them, remember that even understanding or making use of these tools is in itself is a PROCESS.
Everything in life and nature comes in cycles, right? Seasons, fertility, TV show reruns — but when we are pursuing a goal, we often think it should go in a straight line. Reframe your thinking about moving forward. We don’t grow in a straight line, we grow in little circles of forward motion, looping back to catch up with the old self so that our experience is not disjointed and separate.
Get out those little shiny cone hats with the rubber band strings and invite your close friends over for some cake. Celebrate–or pout about– your failure. According to the ancient spiritual text, the Tao Te Ching, nothing is what it seems, and failure can be viewed as a spiritual success. Have everybody brainstorm about the hidden gifts they see for you in the apparently negative situation.
What is working
Habitually the thing that isn’t going our way, or we perceive to be failing at absorbs most of our attention. But if you look carefully, there are so many things that are working in your life. In the midst of chaos, take a break. Find a few things that you are really proud of. Then return to your regularly scheduled issue fixation.
Sometimes, fighting the desire to return to the womb makes it worse. Close the office door, or the blinds, pull up the blankets, turn the lights low, and give yourself fifteen minutes or a whole day to grieve the way you wanted it to go or be. Shut out the world while you let go and allow resilience to resurface.
If you can let others that you trust comfort you, it can be an incredible thing in times of stress, for the caregivers and receivers alike. Recovery time decreases by threefold. Mentors are gifts from the Universe. So are good friends and partners. Cuddling is good for the soul.
If you know anyone who has suffered a setback recently, pass it on! And remember, Love Yourself no matter what.