I have often wondered what differentiates the person who is able to make the best choices in the face of pain and difficulty and the one who easily despairs and gives in to a pessimistic end. I realize that it’s all about preparation.
All along in life, before we get to the point when we have to face a painful situation, we are assumed to be in preparation (whether we realize it or not). There are choices, behaviours and belief systems we imbibe that either prepare us for this rainy day or keep us under a certain illusion that the day will not arrive. Whether we are conscious and deliberate about preparation or not, we are most certainly in preparation.
Before someone begins to criticize me for being pessimistic I wish to state clearly that no religion or belief system ever promised us a life devoid of pain or suffering. We were only promised succour when those difficult times come. So I find it difficult to understand why some people continue to make confessions, suggesting that bad times will never show up. The misconception about the certainty of difficult times in life is in itself a contributor to the ill preparation which makes us flunk the test so easily when it comes. It is the same reason that aids a lack of understanding of the opportunities that come with painful times.
Recently, a man, his wife and their kids all perished in a car accident. Suddenly!! Hold your breath…. There was a plane crash; the Ethiopian airline crash in which we lost our own Prof Pius Adesanmi. There were elections; some persons surprisingly lost their election bids after spending so much money. In New Zealand last week, a young man suddenly walked into a mosque and killed about 50 persons and left several others wounded. Just yesterday I witnessed a fatal accident which left an almost brand new car condemned. Everyday there are several armed robbery attacks and assassinations. What about communal killings on going? My point is that for as long as we remain citizens on earth, there are no absolutes.
Preparation is like being here in Nigeria and packing your bags on a trip to somewhere in the Earth’s North Polar Region (Maybe Alaska). Someone who doesn’t have a clear understanding of what the weather looks like in Alaska will be wondering why you are packing turtle necks, thick jackets, boots and head covers, because those clothing items are in clear contrast with what we are wearing here at the moment. It is until you both get to Alaska and the weather changes; the person understands why you had to pack the way you did for the trip. In Alaska, adjusting to the new weather won’t be so tasking because you were wise enough to prepare for the journey. That’s how it is with preparation for difficult times.
Here are some few tips on preparing for difficult times:
1. Be connected: I hate to sound spiritual but I honestly think you need to believe in God. But Hey!!! If you don’t believe in God believe in a source so strong that you can depend on when painful situations visit. Tough times come with a lot of despair. You don’t want to be grappling in the dark with no one to help illuminate your way.
2. Seek knowledge: Read good books. Read biographies of great men and women. There was never a great person who did not have to cross several painful hurdles. Watch and read stuff that will subtly organize and align your perspective on life correctly. When we seek valuable knowledge, we gain a certain kind of depth and insight on life that is uncommon. We may never know the reward of knowledge building until we are faced with certain situations. It is when we have successfully crossed the hurdle that we wonder how we found the will and tact to get around the situation.
3. Learn to live a life of gratitude: Living a grateful life helps us to always see what we’ve got in spite of our loss. Always remember the times you encountered painful situations and overcame. The problem with us is that we easily forget. Difficult situations are not new at all. They have always been with us, but right after we triumph we forget, so much so that when we encounter another hurdle we fail to be encouraged by previous victories.
4. Develop a habit of always count your blessings: This is important because most times painful situations have a way of making us believe that all is lost, but in reality we still had so much more left. Begin today to be deliberate about counting your blessings. This will help you overcome painful situations when they show up because you will be so conscious of what you have left and not what you have just lost. Keep a journal of blessings if you can
5. Build strategic alliances: Be deliberate in your choice of associates. The neighbourhood you choose to live in matters a lot. Do away with any friendship that is not strategic (tough call), go to a church, mosque or worship place where you know you are truly valued (else you won’t see them when the chips are down), play golf, tennis or jog in the mornings with the right persons. Don’t be the kind of person who has quantity without quality. It won’t pay off when the chips are down. Getting acquainted with pain therapist is also a great idea. You may never know when you will need pain therapy.
6. There will always be gain in pain: Begin to memorize the truth that “there will always be gain in pain”. Never ever forget that no matter how painful it is there is surely a gain. You may not see it at that time but just wait. In the long run it will make sense.
I know we have been taught in several forums that we should never expect bad. Preparing for painful situations teaches the contrary. The reality of life is that your car will break down sometimes, you will be betrayed by someone you trust, someone you love will fall sick or even die, and you may lose a job, or be broke at some point in life. Listen carefully. None of these experiences are meant to have a permanent effect on you. They are just a learning phase of your life. All you would need to do is to deal with them at that point in time and move on ahead to have a beautiful life.
Swandy Banta is blue blooded, ask her what that means and she gladly tells you, she’s been through the tunnel of pain and she found illuminating light. She writes and coaches on the difficult subject of pain. Whether it’s national pain, community pain or the pain of loss and the hurts of life that makes us all ask why—she brings new perspectives. Every Friday she treats this topic that haunts us all.
By Swandy Bantu