published here It’s human nature to retreat in the face of overwhelming odds. After all survival is instinctual. It’s hardwired into our bodies. That’s why suicide is so difficult to understand. On one hand it’s the retreat from seemingly overwhelming odds, but at the same time it flies in the face of our survival instinct. The thing to understand about suicide is that it only happens when we allow our current-moment bias – that human tendency to be unable to see a better future and change our expectations and behaviors accordingly – to push hope out of the picture.
the winning dating formula for woman over 50 It’s easy to do. It’s often hard to believe things are going to get better. Our society has a tendency to think that things will continue on as they always have. We’ll always have this job. We’ll always have our friends. We’ll always have money in the bank, our vacations, our health, our relationships. The challenge comes when we are thrust out of our little cocoon and into a new world by some event.
fubar dating site usa When this happens through loss – of a job, of money, of a relationship – it knocks us for a loop, mostly because we had plans based on that stability. If it’s a big blow, we’re sent reeling. When something else comes along, as it inevitably does, it’s like muck being thrown in our face. Then we start to take each subsequent pile of crap and add it to the crap that has already happened and see it as a trend. Pretty soon all the piles of little crap look pretty insurmountable when stacked upon one another. The dark walls of crap block out the light that’s just on the other side of our homemade fortress.
I know. I’ve been there. I’ve been taken down from a really great high. And then kicked a few times while I was down. I’ve felt like things couldn’t get any worse (which, by the way, is often an invitation to the Universe to prove that it can). I’ve built the wall of crap and then sat right next to the wall, secure in knowing that I had a big wall of crap.
To be honest, you feel very small and uncomfortable when sitting at the base of a big wall of crap. And sometimes, that’s exactly where the Universe wants you. Joseph Campbell often said, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” The big wall of crap is actually what the life we planned has become.
How many movies have you watched where the hero or heroine encounters their moment of apparent defeat? It’s a classic plot structure. It comes at the end of the second act. After the hero proves themself through a series of tests, suddenly everything unravels. They get to a place where there is no hope and seemingly no way out.
The truth is that there is no way out based on what we’ve always done. But there is a way out, there’s always a way out. It just takes a shift in perspective. As Albert Einstein once famously said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Inevitably, the hero who triumphs does so because they use what they have learned through their trials and tribulations. The tragic hero does not. The tragic hero adheres to their old way of thinking and goes down with the ship. The triumphant hero uses new information to see the problem in a new way, to gain a new perspective.
It’s my belief that the ability to find this new perspective, and then use it to move ahead is at the heart of persistence. While the dictionary defines persistence as “to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition,” I believe at its core, persistence is more about steadfastly adhering to a desired end, and not accepting roadblocks as end points. It’s a subtle difference. One is about forcing your will upon the situation; the other is about adapting to the situation so that you can overcome it.
More than anything, persistence is about taking a couple steps back, gaining some perspective, and then finding the best way forward.
I know something about persisting. I know about beating a potentially deadly disease. I know about having pretty much everything you trust and cherish yanked away from you. I’ve been on the precipice of being homeless. In the first ten days of 2013, it all started happening again. The piles of crap started building up fast – something new was added every day for eight straight days. It’s really hard to get perspective when the crap is coming at you faster than you can move. But once the initial barrage is over, you can look around, survey your options, and get some perspective
Fortunately I know – thanks to some perspective on previous disasters – that in every case, the barrage of crap is simply the Universe calling you to let go of the life you planned in order to accept the life that is waiting. Who knows what that life is, but I’m certainly ready to let go and see.