Crises. Stressful events. Problems.
Sometimes they’re small like running out the door late for work only to find that the cat threw up on your shoe and you have to go back inside to change.
Sometimes they’re big like financial problems, illness, or loss of a loved one.
Whatever the situation, there are four words that can help you make it through better than any self-help book.
Before I tell you these four words, I want you to promise me that you’ll keep reading this entire post. Because I can pretty much guarantee that when you read the words you’ll roll your eyes and think, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before.”
These four words have magic when strung together and there is much, much more that we need to think about when we hear or remember them rather than just letting them go by.
Here are the four words:
This, too, shall pass.
Wait! Don’t go anywhere. Keep reading.
Most people when they hear this familiar phrase immediately dismiss it, thinking, “I know that, but what do I do now to manage my stress?”
What you do now is gain perspective.
Example 1: The cat threw up on your shoe and you are going to be later than you thought to work.
So what? You’ve been late before and the sky didn’t fall in. Allow yourself to learn from past experience that you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.
The moment passes.
Example 2: You’re deep in debt and bill collectors are calling to harass you.
This is not a “so what?” experience. This is a stomach-churning-teeth-grinding-waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night experience. How does ‘This, too, shall pass’ fit here?
In a couple of different ways.
One is that this moment will pass. Or perhaps I should say, you can allow the moment to pass. And I mean the moment.
Those stomach-churning-teeth-grinding-waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night moments eventually pass. Especially if you realize that grinding your teeth and worrying in the middle of the night doesn’t really solve any problems. It just makes you tired the next day.
You know these moments pass because you’ve had them before even prior to this current crisis in your life. You’ve had crises before and worried before and here you are today to talk about it.
Which brings me to the second way ‘This, too, shall pass’ can help.
Even though your situation may be long-term such as the current example of trying to get out of debt or other instances like grief and loss, remember two things: 1.) You’ve been through tough times before and you will again, and 2.) Your crisis changes minute by minute and day by day.
So although it may seem that you’re mired in debt or drowning in grief, look carefully at what’s really happening.
Hopefully, you are taking action to get out of debt – even if it’s just paying it down a few dollars per day. That is change and that means the day before – which was more stressful for you because you were those few dollars more in debt – has passed and you’ve made it through.
Similarly, your grief ebbs and flows and changes each day. Grief is very much like a long-term chart of the stock market: it goes up and plummets down but, over time, it slowly progresses upward.
So try not to get bogged down in thinking that the place you are in has you stuck forever.
Remember that, whether it’s the moment or the crisis itself,
This, too, shall pass.
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Last reviewed: 1 Oct 2013