Monday, November 22, 2010

When Things Fall Apart

I'm reading a really good book right now called When Things Fall Apart. It's so full of wisdom that after every sentence, I find myself saying things like "I have to remember that!" or "That's so true!" or "That's the same thing Sr. Maria, my spiritual director, has been telling me for years. If only I can remember to apply these things to my life now, when the going gets tough or like the title says 'when things fall apart'."

One pearl of wisdom I've taken from the book is to try to soften up. (I laugh as I write that because I can be a very hard person, like the Simon and Garfunkel song "I am a Rock.") When difficult things happen or when people say or do things I don't care for, I harden up and try to protect myself. Instead of hardening up and trying to keep my distance from things that are painful, the idea is to soften and just be with the circumstances. We tend to run away from pain or problems or at least put up some kind of defenses. I, myself, like to drink caffeine or eat some chocolate when the going gets tough. I also find myself avoiding things.

The book also mentions how we have a difficult time when things get tough because we're holding on to them too tightly. If we realize that everything passes and nothing is permanent, change wouldn't be so difficult. So when change happens, loosen our grip on how we would prefer things to be and then soften up and allow these feelings to enter in rather than avoiding them or trying to change them to something better. I know when I experience unpleasant feelings, I always like to change them to something I have more control over. Instead of feeling sad, it's easier for me to get angry or blame someone. I put the focus outward rather than inward.

Obviously, this book is one that I will need to reread and reread and reread. I know that if I don't keep reminding myself of these ways of thinking and responding to difficulties, I'll forget all that this book has taught. If I don't keep meeting with Sr. Maria, who has been saying the same things as the book (and for years), I'll want to do what's more comfortable and familiar.

As much as I like chocolate, there are healthier ways to respond to life's difficulties.

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