My yoga teacher Jan always says the difficult people in our lives are our greatest teachers. If we are curious and in touch with the difficulty we experience with certain people, we have the opportunity to learn patience, they slow us down make us more mindful and gift us with presence. It’s very interesting if you think about it, difficult people, difficult times are actually gifts, and many times I have resoundingly rejected these gifts.
Jan compared difficulty in our lives to potholes in the road, they may cause damage to our car unless we slow down, in other words difficulty encourages us to approach these people or experiences more mindfully. Of course this shift, while simple, is not easy.
I can only speak for myself as I always try to do, but I find as I did just yesterday that these potholes feel like huge caverns if I approach them from a place of depletion. By that I mean, any difficulty in life is muddled, confused and amplified if I am not taking care of myself. Lynn my life coach asked me to track my well-being practices, which are those things that fuel my spirit and my body. I pay attention to sleep, nutrition, exercise, yoga, meditation, and journaling if any of these get out of balance I head down the road to depletion. So when I get in one of those wacky unbalanced states I do a quick review of my well-being and every time I am out of integrity with well-being.
We all do it, of course it’s easier to spot others wackiness than our own at first. But I do notice many people working through lunch and not eating, working late into the evening and missing sleep, driving themselves constantly with no reward. And for many years I created that kind of life for myself, I still have my moments as I shared with you, but they are becoming less and less as I pay more attention to well-being. One thing I have noticed is that I do not spiral out of control like I used to before I was aware of well-being. Those days my life was littered with potholes and I did not pay attention and drove full speed ahead over them and caused myself and my support system a lot of damage as a result.
I still have potholes and I always will, as we all will, but I am noticing as I become more present, more aware, and more authentic in my connections I am seeing less potholes and the potholes I do see I am able to approach more thoughtfully which causes less pain. For me life is like a long road trip, the kind I would take in college, where you don’t really have a destination in mind you just set out driving to see what you find along the way and the only goal is to have fun. I know I will not have smooth roads the whole way and I can’t always keep my eye on the road or I will miss all the beautiful scenery, but when I come upon a stretch of road littered with potholes I want to slow down. I may even pull off the road, maybe there is something I am supposed to stop and see and if I drive on by I will miss it.
So notice your potholes, embrace them, they are actually there for a reason. And if you feel you are on a road of endless potholes take care of yourself, I mean really take care of yourself. I have noticed in my engineering practice I have learned the most from the projects that did not go well or did not go the way I thought they would. The projects that went smoothly, while a blessing, sort of fade somewhat in my memory. But the projects that were uncomfortable, grueling. difficult, those are the ones that gave me my greatest lessons. So I really understand what Jan my yoga instructor meant when she said difficult people are our greatest teachers, so are difficult times. When you are knee-deep in it, remember this too shall pass, and when it does you will be blessed with a greater knowledge, a greater understanding and that weight will be lifted.
“Impossibilities are merely things which we have not yet learned.” Charles W. Chesnutt