I am addicted to browsing people’s bookshelves. When I go into someone’s house for the first or thousandth time, I walk to every bookshelf I see and scan the titles. Over the years, this habit has revealed an interesting and tragic insight: I see so many books about coping.
Now, there is nothing wrong with having a book or books that help you improve yourself and live with greater happiness. What I see, however, is that many bookshelves might by 90% full of books about coping. As if the goal at the end of the day is to stumble through your front door, kiss the floor, and marvel that you were able to survive for another 24 hours.
Seriously, what does this crazy ratio suggest? You know I want you to spend most of your time with your nose in a book, but you can’t spend 90% of your reading time figuring out how to cope with real life once you put the book down.
Anyone Can Cope
But you are not just anyone.
I spent ten years wishing things were better but doing very little. I complained constantly and sobbed in my bed but took no steps to improve my situation or mental state.
I had no hope. I wanted to die. I tried ever-so-halfheartedly to commit suicide. I was a master of self-pity and I refused to take responsibility for anything.
Coping Is Just Surviving
Coping is surviving. Surviving can mean as little as drawing breath. You can’t will yourself to quit breathing. You can’t do it. Therefore, you will continue to exist. While you exist, at the very least, you will cope with your situation.
But there is little joy or progress in coping. Coping is pills without conviction. Coping is tears without end. Coping is trudging forward while slowly letting go of hope. Hope fades when there is no proactivity and you cannot be proactive while simultaneously expecting problems to fix themselves.
Nobody is in your mind but you
Other people can help you in many ways, but they cannot step inside your head. During one of my worst stretches, my mother said endlessly, “I would do anything to take some of your pain away.”
Honestly, I would have done anything to let her take some of it. But that’s not how it works. She could not help me to live, and since I was determined to cope and do no more, all she could do was wait me out while I endured and rotted away in my head and heart.
I am not arguing against medicine or tears or family or the need for a sympathetic ear. But I am arguing furiously against the idea that our circumstances are absolutely out of our control.
From: Man’s Search For Meaning,
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves – Victor Frankl
Amen, Dr. Frankl.
Someone is always dealing with something worse and handling it better. There is always someone to be inspired by. Things are never so bad that they can’t improve.
No matter what you don’t have, you do have options. Live or survive. Punch the misery clock and watch the sand run out or choose what time it is yourself and get through it.
There are things you can do, but it takes effort and sometimes it sucks and you can’t always win. You might spend years losing more than you win. I lost a whole decade and wish I’d wised up about 3,000 days sooner.
If you quit trying for more, one day, whenever it is your time–you may realize that you did not spend your life doing the one thing lives are for…
Take care of yourself. Take the proper steps. Ride along when you need to, but never miss a chance to take the wheel back. Give yourself permission to hurt and suffer when you need to, but never for longer than you need to.
Find something good and chase it.
I’ll be doing the same.
PS: Did you get a free guest post from me yet?
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