Facing challenges without worry


We all have tasks to do every day, and doing them routinely is not a problem. Routine work by itself does not cause worry. But when unforeseen situations arise, or we encounter unexpected behaviour from someone, then dealing with that in addition to fulfilling our responsibilities causes worry and stress.
But this does not happen with everyone – some people brush off untoward incidents and take them in their stride while others get upset. Why does this happen? In reality, other people and circumstances are not responsible for the way we feel. Our feelings are the result of our way of thinking. If I learn to manage my thoughts and emotions, then nothing can upset me. But if I lack control over my mind, then people and situations will control me. They press my buttons – of anger, anxiety, or fear – and I react accordingly. It is as if I am being remotely controlled by the world. In such a state I cannot be stable or peaceful for long.
For a long time, we have been habitually reacting impetuously to events and people around us, and then blaming them for how we are feeling. If we want to change this and become free from emotional fluctuations, we need to take three steps.
First, we need to recognise what makes us worried or stressed. Is it time pressure? Is it another person, just thinking of whom upsets me? Or is it some situation that leaves me feeling powerless?
The second step is to create a gap between the triggering of the stress and our response to it. When something happens, or someone says something, we can press the pause button and not react immediately. This gives us time to look at the situation dispassionately and think of a prudent response.
Once we start doing this, we will have greater clarity and stability in challenging situations, and find solutions more easily. Getting carried away by the situation, on the other hand, produces a jumble of thoughts, leading to an unwise reaction that may complicate matters further.
Our mind is closely linked to our sanskars, or tendencies – the inner programming that determines, to a great extent, how we perceive and react to the world around us. If I have created the habit of worrying, then I will worry even if everything in my life is fine. “Who knows what might happen tomorrow”, such people think.
To change this inner programming, we need to closely watch our thoughts and feelings, stop them as soon as we notice any negativity, step back from the situation, look at it from a different angle, and choose a better way to respond.
I have noticed that some people never react negatively, even in difficult situations. When I asked them about the secret to their composure and fortitude, I found that they have the quiet conviction, and benevolent wish, that all will be well in the end. This keeps them stable.
In addition, whenever we are dealing with a challenging situation or a difficult person, we can ask ourselves, ‘What is this situation, or person, teaching me?’ This prompts us to look within, examine our attitude and beliefs, and ultimately broaden our mental horizon. Each such situation or person is a stepping stone to a wiser intellect and better understanding.
When we look back at the challenges we have faced in life, we will find that all of them taught us something. In other words, they offered us the opportunity to upgrade ourselves. When we remember this and look to learn from every situation, then it becomes easy to face the tests of life without worry.
Sona Bahri is a qualified translator/interpreter, working for many multinational organisations. She is based in Abu Dhabi and runs the Inner Space Meditation Centre.