How to Overcome Setbacks and Difficulties

This too shall pass

I’ve had a pretty challenging couple of weeks. But more on that in a moment. This blog post is how to overcome setback, difficulties or challenges. Whether that be in your career, personal life, family life or elsewhere.

Why is this relevant? Because we all encounter difficulties in life. It’s never about what comes along that’s important. Rather how we deal with what comes along that matters.

Shit happens. Forrest Gump knew that – and so do we.

So when it happens, how to deal with it? Many things can work – but really they all boil down to the same thing. And that’s taking a new perspective on the situation.

Before I give you the secret sauce which will help you overcome these hiccups in life, let me explain why I’m focussed on this right now.

If you read the previous post I made, you’ll know that I was recently in Miami on a 200hr yoga teacher training certification. Hence the previous blog I wrote about quitting. I was quitting my daily writing.

Anyway, while on this yoga course – called Budokon – we had a mixed martial arts (MMA) “play” day. Budokon yoga is inspired by martial arts as well as yoga so we got the chance to pad up and fight each other (after some proper instruction, of course!). That went all well and dandy. Lots of punching and kicking – not so many blocks on my part! Think I got smacked one too many times in the head (thanks Luke!).

Once we all had a go at sparring, we then got the chance to do some ground work – aka wrestling/Brazilian jujitsu. And that’s when it went wrong for me.

While tussling with Mike (a more experienced MMA fighter) I went in for something (who know’s what!) and as I twisted my knee while my foot stayed grounded and then I heard and felt a “SNAP” in the knee.

I knew if felt pretty serious as soon as it went – but I still carried on fighting for another 5-10 minutes!

Did the usual protocol on it – R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) for a few days and went to the ER in Miami. They couldn’t tell me much other than it wasn’t a break and that I’d have to wait to get seen to properly in the UK. Still waiting on consultant visit and MRI (thanks NHS!), but initial indications are that it’s a medial meniscus tear in the left knee. How bad and whether surgery is needed isn’t known yet.

So how do I cope with being on crutches (now for 2.5 weeks so far) and not being able to do what I’m used to doing?

How did I stay so positive while sitting out the remaining 10 days on the course which I had paid $4000 to attend?

Because I know (and I repeatedly say to myself), that

“This too shall pass”

You’ve got to understand the transient nature of life. Nothing lasts. It might seem it does. But look around. Yes, it might have been Winter, but now it’s Spring, then Summer will follow and then Autumn.

Life is ever changing. The pain I feel in my leg right now. The inability to bend my knee. My frustration at not being able to exercise or move as I wish. It won’t last forever.

I know this sounds simple. And indeed it’s an easy concept to grasp – intellectually.

The challenge comes in really feeling it. Understanding this concept to your very core.

I think I really only understood this concept  –“This too shall pass” – when I was doing my vipassana meditation experience in 2013.

Vipassana is a powerful 10 day silent retreat involving up to 12 hours a day meditation including 3 sessions of 1hr segments when you can’t move a muscle. Not even to scratch that itch on your nose that suddenly appears as soon as the hour has just started!

And crazy as it sounds, it’s by not scratching that itch that you realise that it’s true.  This too shall pass.

What are you going through now?

Maybe it’s a bad time? Trouble at work? A break up? Crazy teenage children running rampant at home?

Maybe it’s even good times?

Just know that they will pass. When it’s good, prepare for the bad (“protect the downside” as Richard Branson likes to say), and remember, when it’s bad – that won’t last either.

And as if to throw insult to injury and really make sure I’m getting this concept of “This too shall pass”, when I returned from the US, my four year relationship with my girlfriend also came to an end. Talk about when it rains, it pours.

Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it would be nice if neither thing had happened. But they did. It’s not about what happens to you that’s important, rather how you respond to what happens to you that’s important.

I know that both the physical and emotional pain I’m feeling right now will pass. And if you chose to commit this phrase to memory (or maybe go on vipassana) then you too will realise the truth and be able to overcome any obstacle.

This too shall pass

What do you think?