I was listening to an interesting podcast recently where Maz Compton was interviewed by Mia Freedman on "No Filter" about her reasons for taking the daily alcohol consumption out of her life as she explores in her new book "The Social Rebellion". She made a point that really stuck with me and that is - when we are just coping with life we find ourselves pushing through the daily grind of life's expectations of us, and some of us will finish the day with a drink or an addiction to some other form of distraction that takes our mind off the issues leading to the behaviour. It could be an over the top excessive focus on fitness, or diet, constantly relocating, changing jobs or throwing ourselves into some other pursuit that may not seem such a big deal, but it can also mask the problems that we are avoiding. It is only when we confront the "issues" that are causing the behaviour that we start to deal with life, instead of just cope.
Let's explore that a little deeper.
I know that throughout my life there have been times when the situations that I have found myself in have led me to cope rather than deal. Of course this is a natural response for most of us when we are under stress or facing difficulty. But through those situations I learnt a very strong lesson, in that without addressing them the issues don't go away and they will just manifest themselves in other ways in our life and may eventually force us to STOP. By way of a nervous breakdown, depression, physical debilitating illness, fractured or broken relationships, the list can go on and on in the ways that cracks can form within us.
I remember when I was suffering from Post Natal Depression and after many months of struggling on my own I eventually went to my GP and it was here that I started to address the real issues. One thing I will never forget was that as part of the treatment for me I was to not only to go onto anti-depressants, but I had to see a psychologist. Ouch - that bit hurt! This was confronting for me but I was able to understand that the drugs were just a tool to help stabilise my hormones so that I would in time be strong enough to deal with the underlying problems. I have heard so many times about people who have gone onto medication as a way to solve problems but yet they haven't gone beyond that and have had stayed "stuck" if you like, in the situation without having had time to really sort out the root of it. Here the medication is being worn like a mask hiding the real problems away. Remove the mask - and they are still there looming in the background.
This experience and the valuable lessons learnt with PND gave me a very strong base from which to draw upon when sudden tragedy, trauma and grief struck my family. I knew almost from that very second that it wasn't going to be enough to cope with this shocking incident, but that we needed to seek assistance as soon as possible to help us all deal with it. It was only from there that we could move forward on any basis that would be true for us. Each one of us had suffered through the same tragedy but seen it through our own eyes. Adrenalin helps you react in the moment, the power of your breath and a rational mind help you deal with the aftermath.
So while this may all seem so dramatic, it really rings true even in the small things that we do in our lives. If we can't swing ourselves into action in resolving issues for the small things - how do we ever expect to do the same in the big things. Apart from that - why would we want to settle into a life of just "coping" rather than living the extraordinary life that we can when we are at our happiest and healthiest? The power to change those things lies within each of us.
Our yoga practice helps us to centre and move from a more stable and solid base. A base where we trust our inner wisdom and where the inner strength we need to confront our demons is there. There is strength and patience that we learn on our mat that we can take into our daily lives. We think more clearly, we make more rational decisions and we are able to have the tough discussions with our partners, bosses or friends that we need to have over the things that are causing us to feel that we are not living to our happiest potential. So ultimately - it's on us! We have to be true to ourselves and honour ourselves enough to put the work in to "deal" with our stuff - not just "cope". What are you coping with at the moment?
Blessings to you all on your continued adventure of life,