Truth be told, my life-journey has strayed into many roller-coaster rides of ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ – most of which would down with crushing defeats, painful failures, disastrous choices, broken relationships, and agonizing despair.
Coming out of these soul-wrenching experiences, I have tried to devise the following “Ten bottom-line truths to remember when depressed by challenges,” which have served as my guideposts during rock-bottom moments:
1. Everyone’s journey is different; and if there’s a reason for your struggle, there’s also a reason not to give up. In moments of challenges, you don’t have to complain, “Why me?” Remember, each one’s journey is unique and different. For certain, as there’s always a reason for everything, your struggle has its reason too. Find “meaning” in your suffering, and it will alleviate your pain.
With finding the reason for your struggle, there must also be a reason not to give up. It might be your loved ones – family or kin – who can be your inspiration to persist and persevere. Or, even other people, who inspire you or are inspired by you. Or, if not, your magnificent dream or purpose that you have yet to achieve – is reason enough not to give up.
2. The past cannot be changed, but we can at present choose and act our future. You don’t have to cry over a failed or unhappy past, it’s gone. And neither should you stress yourself about the future; it hasn’t arrived yet. What you can do is live in the present and make it beautiful. The past can’t be altered, yes. But you can, at present, choose and start to act what you desire for the future.
3. You can only fail when you quit, and mistakes aren’t completely mistakes. The only time you can fail is when you give up. The moment you can’t is the moment you stop being able to. The biggest mistake some people could ever make is to be too afraid to make one. But, if you think about it, mistakes are not completely mistakes; they, in fact, offer plenty of lessons.
4. Struggles and challenges are opportunities for growth. Pain and struggles are part and parcel of life; they are opportunities for learning, growth, and transformation. The safest path is not always the most convenient or the best. The more challenges, the more you learn and grow.
Remember, the best thing you can gain from challenges is not the thing you want, but the “person” you become in the process.
5. Nothing is permanent, and things always get better with time. No matter how miserable and hateful your situation, it is not permanent; it will pass. And as life changes every second, things always get better with time – including you. You too can choose to change for the better.
6. Happiness is found within. As oft been said, don’t look for happiness in others’ successes. You have your own greatness and strengths. Happiness is not found in “possessions” or “positions.” Happiness can’t be found outside; it can only spring from within you.
7. Positive thoughts create positive realities. Negative thoughts inevitably engender negative results; positive thoughts create positive realities. You may not be capable of changing what is actually happening to you, but you can choose how to react positively from within to what is happening to you.
8. Opinions don’t define reality, and judgments are a confession of character. If you’re scoffed or derided by other people, worry not – for their opinions do not define who you are. Besides, people who are wont in making unfair judgments only bespeak of who they are – their “marites” character. Don’t judge people by their “cover” – they are not a book.
9. Worrying can’t change anything, and overthinking leads to sadness. If there is anything that kills more people faster than any dreaded pandemic, it is worrying. You can’t change anything by worrying. In the same vein, thinking can only lead to more thinking or overthinking and, therefore, to more questions. More oft than not, overthinking in moments of despair can only lead to sadness.
10. Always P.R.A.Y. (Pull back, Reflect, Act, Yield to God’s grace) and have an “attitude of gratitude.” Prayer is the best antidote to any problem. And, as has been oft said, the highest form of prayer is giving thanks. So, always be grateful for what you have. Count your blessings.
In sum, what St. Teresa of Avila said is truly spot on: “Let nothing worry you. Let nothing distract you. Whoever has God will lack for nothing. Only God suffices.”
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