Everything will be alright in the end. If it's not alright it's not the end.
Whatever you do, make it an offering to me — the food you eat, the sacrifices you make, the help you give, even your suffering.
— Bhagavad Gita
I recently wrote a piece about how some of us are caught in a repetitive cycle involving situations that hurt us, and how to break out of it by using simple observation : you can read it here.
Another way to break this cycle, and my personal favourite, is faith — faith that whatever happens in my life, I have the means to grow from this experience.
Experience Makes Us Grow
I spent my childhood in Swami Muktananda's ashram in India, and left at the age of twelve to study in the West and discover "life outside." My mother and I eventually settled in a small village in the Périgord, a region in the green heart of France known as the Cradle of Mankind, due to its wealth of Prehistoric sites : the painted cave of Lascaux, dating back some 17 000 years, among many others.
The region is ancient, to say the least, and its inhabitants wary of outsiders. Needless to say, the culture shock was intense : having lived a sheltered life of spiritual studies, I found myself in the midst of... well, what most people call normal life.
Many things seemed alien to me, foremost amongst which the notion of stress.
"Why worry?" I would ask people, "If you can do something about your situation, do it and you'll feel better for being proactive — and if there is nothing you can do, then why worry about it? In either case, being anxious won't help. Quite the contrary, it will only anchor you in fear and prevent you from experiencing joy."
I sincerely didn't understand — but eventually, life offered me situations in which I got to experience fear, stress, anxiety and many of the other niceties [sic] that our mind can come up with. I did not enjoy those experiences... it took me a long time to remember that we do not control events or people, that all we can do is act upon ourselves.
The Bhagavad Gita says :
The meaning of Karma is in the intention.
The intention behind action is what matters.
Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruit of action are miserable,
for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do.
I stopped trying to change what didn't feel right and learned to walk away from it. Oh, sometimes walking away was scary, yes — but I had faith. And I noticed something in the process : whenever I didn't know how to do something, I was given the means to do it at exactly the right moment.
Again and again this happened — so much so that from this I developed my current outlook on life : come what may, I shall not stress, for I trust that I will be given the means to go through the difficulty.
When I feel pinched by anxiety, I remind myself that desire for the fruit of action makes us anxious and miserable. This stops me from worrying and lets me accept people and events as experiences offered by life. I fear less, knowing that if a challenge is presented to me, the tools to deal with it will also be given at the right moment.
In the past few years, this faith in myself and in the universe has helped me overcome several uncomfortable situations. To the question "What are you going to do?" I answer, "I don't know, but the solution will come. All will be well."
And it has been. Have faith in yourself. Whatever happens, it is an experience given to you.
We Always Learn Something in the Process
Sometimes we learn a new way of doing things. Sometimes we learn that we are stronger and more capable than we thought. Every time we overcome a difficulty that seemed overwhelming, we gain in self-knowledge and self-confidence.