7 Lessons to Remember When Life Seems to Suck

Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments
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Sad lonely young woman -compressed

By Benson Wong | Tiny Buddha

“I’m grateful for past betrayals, heartaches, and challenges… I thought they were breaking me; but they were sculpting me.” ~Steve Maraboli

I winced in pain as I climbed off the elliptical. This was one of the few times that I had ever set foot into a gym. And it was out of necessity rather than choice.


That necessity came from chronic lower back and leg pain, which I had been living with for the better part of six months. At the time, I didn’t know it would end up being just chronic, idiopathic pain.

All I knew was that it hurt, and I was limping with every step I took.

The pain had a definite impact on my quality of life.

For those first two years I could rarely sit for more than five minutes at a time, as a burning sensation would soon envelop my hip and thigh area, making it uncomfortable. The only way to alleviate the sensation was to stand. This was difficult for me, as I am an engineer who makes his living in front of the computer.

In my quest to get better I saw enough specialists to count on both hands. Because I lived in a small town, they were often two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours by car, one way! Imagine the challenges of trying to sit in a car for that long a period of time when the very act of sitting was uncomfortable for me.

Each time, the doctor would say that he didn’t know what was wrong with me. The good news, at least, was that I was not in danger of dying anytime soon.

Little did I know at the time that I would find myself on a journey of self-improvement, borne out of a spiritual necessity. As a result, I would make drastic changes to my life.

I would eventually learn to stop using pain as an excuse not to exercise. I discovered what it meant to make a decision—to decide, really decide.

I would also discover that I am my own worst enemy, what with the constant barrage of negative thoughts that consumed every waking moment as I sought answers from one doctor to the next.

Through it all, I would discover the power of meditation to help me deal with life’s stresses (people or situations).

Four years later, this chronic pain is but a distant memory. From time to time it returns as nothing more than a mild muscle soreness or tension.

These are the lessons I wish to share with you today.

You Are What You Think

Among many of the things I started changing were my thoughts.

Because I have a history of cancer in my family, when I first started the doctor visits, I constantly assumed the worst.

Several relatives had already passed away from this disease. My father had two bouts with cancer. Both times, he was fortunate enough to walk away.

Unfortunately, after each time he still believed the disease was in his body, despite the doctor declaring a clean bill of health some ten years after his first bout.

Sound familiar?

Because I had the best training in the world, I saw doctor after doctor, trying to find something wrong with me. I refused to accept the second, third, or fourth opinion that I was really fine. That there was nothing wrong with me.

Be in the Habit of Questioning Your Beliefs

It starts with a subtle shift of consciously being aware of your thoughts and questioning them. I’m not saying that you should be constantly monitoring your thoughts. That would be tiring.

So long as you are able to step back every now and then to ask yourself these questions, you are in good shape.

  • Why did I just think what I thought?
  • From where did I get these beliefs?
  • Are they correct? Is it possible that my beliefs are wrong?
  • What other perspectives are also correct?
  • How are these beliefs helping me?

Question your thoughts, for they lead to emotions. Watch your emotions, which leads to actions. Examine your actions (or lack thereof), which ultimately leads to results.

Another way to look at things is this: If you don’t like where you are, begin by looking at your results. Then look at the actions you took to achieve those results. Look yet another step backward to the emotions associated with those actions. Going further back, look at the thinking that created those emotions in the first place.

Now, can you see why what we think is so important?

Sometimes Things Have to Get Worse Before They Get Better

Those words were from my chiropractor, and they would keep echoing through my head as I fought back the waves of pain running down the lower right side of my body.

I almost laughed when he first said them to me, thinking they were terribly cliché. Yet, this doctor was doing something none of the other specialists could do: alleviate my pain. Within the first hour of seeing him, my discomfort had almost halved.

Not only was he helping me with my pain, his simple words motivated me to start an exercise program for the first time in my life, despite the pain.

Keep in mind that two other doctors had also suggested this, but I dismissed their advice, thinking it was crazy to suggest exercise to a patient in pain, since I assumed it would exacerbate his condition. In other words, I thought I knew best.

As for what led up to those waves of pain, I was on the elliptical, trying this strange machine for the first time in my life. And I was hurting.

It had only been ten minutes, but they were grueling. The guy next to me made it look easy, clocking in at thirty minutes and still going. I was hurting too much and had to jump off the machine.

As I stood there wondering what was going on with my health, I had a do-or-die moment: I could give up, go home, piss and moan about how much everything was hurting and what a dumb idea it was for the doctors to suggest that I start an exercise program, and never come back.

Yet, the words of my chiropractor kept playing back in my head. It shifted my perception: Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.

At this moment in my journey, my back was to the wall. I had no other direction but forward. I would decide then and there that I would give it another month to see if my condition would improve better.

Many more times on the elliptical, something amazing gradually happened: My chronic pain was starting to go away!

 

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