No matter how much good is done in the world, trouble always seems to find a way into life. One inaccurate accusation or maybe a single deliberate false testimony is all it takes to shift your life focus to fighting for survival, justice, or truth.
Step 1: Keep your cool
Every life challenge has two conflicts that occur simultaneously:
the external conflict / problem at hand, and
the internal conflict / mental disturbance
Think about it for a second. A simple coffee spill will immediately trigger mental stressing about how clumsy you are and your embarrassment in the cafe. Both the internal and external conflicts are typically fused into a single indistinguishable experience for most people. This fusion of the internal and external worlds can have serious consequences since that means internal stability can often only be regained when the external problem is solved.
It may seem logical to convert life’s external challenges into personal pain, stress, or drama because you’ve created that unhealthy habit over time, but there’s a more effective way to approach challenging situations that gives you the upper hand — especially during conflicts with others.
Gaining the upper hand begins with becoming aware of two things:
Our external world that you have limited control over and we all share
Your internal world that you potentially have complete control over.
If you separate these two realities, then it becomes a little clearer that not only do they NOT overlap, but life’s challenges need not influence how you feel and think on the inside. The importance of this simple concept cannot be overemphasized.
The decisions you make as you go through life completely depends on your mental state when the decision is made. Should your mental state be disturbed, angry, or upset while taking action, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that you might do or say something you would regret later on.
Keeping your cool is of the utmost importance if you want to be victorious in conflict.
Even when the world around you is falling apart, if the mind is still and remains calm as the process unfolds, then you will be present enough to make the best decisions while being open to opportunities and new ideas that will tip the scales in your favor.
On the other hand, if the mind becomes disturbed with panic, fear, or anger, you might take action immediately in an attempt to “fix” problems in the moment, but those same actions will dig deeper problems that will sooner or later resurface.
Step 2: Focus on the desired end state
As a child I was always amazed that our tiny moon could block out all the light from the Sun during a solar eclipse even though the moon was relatively small in comparison. Likewise, when we focus on even the tiniest of problems, all possible solutions become invisible and fade into the background.
A desired end state is how you want the conflict or life challenge to end. If your mental state is disturbed, however, then you might be convinced that “instant justice” is the desired end state. Meanwhile, a calm mental state offers the best possible decisions to guide the present moment to where you really want it to go.
You would be surprised how many decisions you will make that may initially seem counter-intuitive when you focus on a healthy end state while keeping your cool. You might sit on replying to an email for a few hours, or even days. You might smile and buy a drink for a jerk at the bar who’s trying to instigate a fight to prove his manhood. Or you might even tell your spouse “I’m sorry and I love you” when it was certainly obvious (to you anyway) that you were not at fault.
In no way does this mean you should be taken advantage of, become a push over, or not stand up for yourself. But with the limited influence you have over the external world, if you focus on how you want life’s challenges to end while keeping your cool, every decision will be the best one you can possible make in that moment that will increase your odds of victory.
Step 3: Redefine your meaning of success
As you calmly walk through the flames, making the best decisions you possibly can to bring the situation to a desirable end state, there remains the possibility that the life challenge will not work out in your favor. Your cancer treatment may not work. Your partner might still leave you. Or maybe the court system might imprison you even though you’re innocent. What then?
These are very real possibilities that can trigger serious panic in people, causing them to loose their cool and make poor short sighted decisions in hopes of regaining the illusion of control. Unfortunately, such fear based reactions only compound the issue, taking us further away from what we truly want.
While it would be great if things always worked out in our favor, the deepest form of success is not conquering the outer world.
The deepest form of success occurs when you achieve inner peace and keep maintaining it regardless of what’s happening around you.
What this means is that while you might take massive action to influence reality towards a desirable end state, your inner peace and happiness will remain undisturbed regardless of the outcome. Yes, it is possible to create audacious life goals without making your happiness contingent upon the successful outcome of those goals.
That’s how you win … every single time.
By separating yourself from life’s challenges and seeking to control your mind. With practice it will become easier and you will realize that you won many fights before they even began. Not because you’re stronger fighter, but because you have achieved something that most people can only dream of — unending inner peace.
How do you best deal with life’s challenges?