The coronavirus pandemic is not the first time you’ve been tested. Nor will it be the last.
Life will keep testing you. Some tests will appear easy, others will be tough. Yet others will make you feel like you won’t make it through.
A partner could walk out on you. A jerk of a colleague could steal the credit that’s rightfully yours. An event you eagerly look forward to could get delayed (or shelved).
You cannot control what happens to you. It’s like asking the wind to blow. But you can control the following:
1. To hold your head high.
A client refuses to pay for your work. People ignore something you worked hard on. You encounter horrible circumstances, like losing your job or landing in a financial mess.
At such times, it’s easy to let your head droop and shoulders sag. And that’s okay. You’re only human after all. You don’t need to have your shit together all the time.
But don’t stay like that for long.
Lift your head and shoulders. Stand tall again. Because no matter what people and circumstances snatch from you, they cannot steal your skills and abilities.
You did something meaningful before. You can do it again. In fact, adversity is an opportunity to do it better by applying the lessons you learned earlier.
No matter what happens, you have nothing to feel ashamed of. Keep doing what you should.
You’ll emerge stronger than you currently are.
2. To not let others’ opinions dictate your worth.
Someone important didn’t return your calls. Someone you cared for didn’t reciprocate your feelings. Someone took you for granted.
It’s easy at such times to think of yourself as worthless. But it’s not true. You’re not a bad person.
Maybe the others currently don’t want the same things as you. Or they have their own shit to deal with which you (often) don’t know about. Or they simply don’t deserve you.
Things might work out later. Or they won’t… because something better lies ahead. You can’t predict how life evolves. So don’t try.
Instead, embrace the truth: that you’re unique. That you’re enough. And carry on, one day at a time. (But don’t let it stop you from trying to become better.)
Nobody except you has the right or the ability to decide your worth or change who you are and who you should be.
3. To not react with emotions.
Someone said something spiteful or treated you unfairly. Someone pooh-poohed your beliefs.
The first reaction is to go all guns blazing, followed by regret when you calm down. You know how it feels.
What separates you from animals is your ability to regulate your emotions, to respond thoughtfully rather than reacting recklessly.
When you feel treated unfairly, ask yourself: “Do I have enough facts to judge the event or behavior? Have I never knowingly or unknowingly hurt someone?” (If your answer to the first question is “Yes” and to the second one is “No”, you’re fooling yourself.)
Take a step back. Acknowledge your emotions without displaying them publicly. Then respond with dignity like a human being.
The world is unfair. But it’s unfair to everyone, which, ironically, makes it fair.
Like the lows, the highs are tests as well.
Life wants to see whether you’ll let success (or a modicum of it) go to your head, whether you’ll let it turn you into someone you shouldn’t be, or whether you’ll stay grounded (or return to the ground quickly) and carry on, and pass its judgment accordingly.
You’ll always be tested. Whether you fail or pass depends on you. And like school, life will keep making you retake a test until you pass.
Each test will rip a piece out of you and replace it with another. Pick your pieces wisely, for they will determine who you become.
Life is not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you.
Don’t try to win each day. Nothing is invincible. Even the earth and sun will eventually die.
Focus on increasing the gap between the times when your mind masters you. Fill that gap with times when you master your mind.
You cannot control how you’ll be tested. But you can control what you choose.
Make your thoughts and actions good enough to make someone you revere feels proud. Someday they will.