From all the conversations I’ve been having with people lately, there are precious few who haven't felt under tremendous pressure from the realization that we aren’t in control of external circumstances nor is there any sense of normalcy any more. So much emotional turmoil has been triggered that it can be almost impossible to sit with the scary thoughts and feelings that arise without looking for a way to distract ourselves.
What this suggests to me is a widespread yet innocent misunderstanding of how we get in our own way, which makes it hard to access our own resilience and adaptability during times of challenge and crisis.
We forget that how we think about the events and people in our lives determines how we respond. When we’re in a clear state of mind and in a good mood, our thinking is clear and our actions are obvious. When we’re caught up in our thinking we have no idea where to turn or what to do.
As human beings, we are story-tellers and meaning makers. We assign meaning to everything that happens to us, but we overlook the fact that the meaning we assign is subjective, arbitrary and changeable. For example, we often see the value of a difficult experience afterwards but in the moment judge that experience as bad or wrong or responsible for other bad or wrong events.
We are terrific at imagining our future, embellishing our past and exaggerating the present. And when those imaginations are scary, we’ve set up a series of problems that then we have to fix.
So what do we need to know in order to see what’s really available to us, to access grace and transcend the consequences of a mind on overdrive?
For me, the word grace carries several meanings: resilience, adaptability, groundedness, composure - a form of divine assistance, if you will, that comes to me and works through me. And grace becomes available when I remember just a few things about how human beings are wired.
When we can see that the core of who we are - our essence - is whole, unbroken and untouched by both circumstances and our reactions to them, it gives us a home base that we can rely on for peace, compassion and clarity.
When we notice that we have a built-in knowing, whether you call it a gut instinct, common sense, inner wisdom or intuition, we begin to rely on that instead of frying our brain cells trying unsuccessfully to figure things out.
And finally, when we discover that humans are wired to be resilient, creative and have endless access to new ideas and solutions, we no longer need to attempt to use old techniques to address ever changing circumstances. We can instead turn to the idea bank within us.
Recognizing these things about humans can make us much more aware that grace is always available just by settling down and turning inward for answers.
The benefits? We find we're able to go towards, rather than away from, difficult circumstances carrying an open mind and an open heart. And we're able to be curious about what else is possible, what else is available to us in the present moment. We become stronger, wiser, make better decisions, are more compassionate, and develop an unshakeable faith in knowing that we will get through this.