Feeling weak as a kitten doesn’t mean you are weak as a kitten.

Sometimes, problems seem insurmountable and life feels overwhelming. Those are exactly the times to remember how resilient you are. Thankfully, a feeling is not a fact. It’s just an emotion. When too many things assail you at once, it’s easy to forget how resilient and capable you are. If you doubt that, just make a list of all the difficult things you have dealt with in your life, so far.

If you’ve already done that, and your response is: “OK, Nicole, I know I’m resilient. I’m just sick of being resilient. I know I can handle these things, but I don’t want to.” I feel you. I get sick of coping with life’s slings and arrows, too. Yet, like you, I’m here for the full catastrophe.

Intuitive as it may sound, when everything feels as if it’s hitting you at once and you have to tackle your challenges, the best thing you can do is sit down and take a breath.

Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone finds deep breathing calming.

If that’s you, you can always focus on your body. There are many grounding techniques that can help you feel safe and secure no matter how much your mind wants to scare you (you can find some here: https://holisticdivorcecounseling.com/grounding-techniques/).

Paradoxically, taking even a few minutes to sit and just be, can help you remember who you are and what you’re capable of. You’re not weak, you have handled a plethora of difficulties and you’re still here.

If the issue is that you’re sick and tired of handling things, just remember the Buddhist approach: This. And this, too. 

It’s also helpful to call up the Buddha’s Five Remembrances. Here is my reconstructed version of the origin story of this practice.

One day the Buddha sat his monks down and said:

Every morning, before you start your day, I want you to remember these five things:

  1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
  2. I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape having ill health.
  3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
  4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  5. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

Upon hearing this suggestion, the monks were dubious, to say the least.

They asked the Buddha how thinking so negatively could help them have a better day.

He replied that by being prepared for life on life’s terms, not the way they wished life were, they would have more realistic expectations. Then, when those things happened, they would take them in their stride and not rail against them so vociferously.

Buddhism is hard. It requires a lot of effort. Accepting life on life’s terms, making it safe to be with whatever shows up, and not expecting everything to be rainbows and puppies is a tough gig. On the other hand, the alternatives create more suffering. Buddhism was designed to decrease suffering.

We’re all human and we want what we want when we want it. Consciously working against our natural tendencies, and our inner two-year-old’s reactions to not getting what we want, is challenging. Thankfully, we can reframe almost any situation to make it more workable.

In addition, we can remember that everything is temporary. Whatever we’re experiencing won’t last, nothing does.

Life is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of light and shadow, joy and sadness, amazement and despair. It’s just the way it is. We’re all doing the best we can with who we are in any given moment. Asking more of yourself only encourages feeling overwhelmed and anxious. You may not like it, but history has shown you can handle whatever comes along. 

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

Nicole Urdang

Nicole S. Urdang, M.S., NCC, DHM is a Holistic Psychotherapist in Buffalo, NY. She holds a New York state license in mental health counseling and a doctorate in homeopathic medicine from the British Institute of Homeopathy.