We’re all the heroes of our own stories, but the heroes we admire in literature and on the screen find themselves undergoing spiritual and emotional transformations more often than they find themselves using the bathroom. If all of us are heroes, each going on a continuous, limitless, and recursive journey throughout the stages of our lives, then where are you in your journey? How does it relate to your current struggles? What lessons are here for you to learn?
“Man is troubled not by events, but by the meaning he gives to them.”-Epictetus
For better and for worse, things don’t always go our way.
A thunderstorm will interrupt your birthday party right after you get a car wash, only for a local bird to relieve themselves on your sunroof. Oftentimes your path will be beset by challenges without interruption, and it might start to feel like the world is personally against you. When life gives you obstacle after obstacle, even your opportunities can start to look overwhelming. How can we cope with our stress and still roll with the punches? How can we move forward with our journey even when the storm rages on?
When this sort of thing happens on television, it’s usually played for laughs. Wile E. Coyote has never, and will never catch the Road Runner for precisely this reason. After all, consecutive misfortune can be so disarming that sometimes all you can think to do is laugh, especially if it’s happening to somebody else. But it’s not quite so funny to feel like you’re on the receiving end of some sort of cosmic joke.
Why does this happen over and over again?
What misfortune befell fate itself to put it in such a foul mood? If so, is our misery always destined to live in mountainous stacks piled high in the middle of our path? It can feel like second nature to lose yourself in questions and stories that deprive you of your willpower and agency. We are the narrator of our tale, and our framing foreshadows our conclusion. It can be tempting to frame our story as one of defeat. After all, then we’d already know all our lines. But if we instead framed our obstacles in terms of what we’ve overcome and where we’ve triumphed, then the consecutive nature of our struggles might not appear quite so overwhelming.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King
Your narrative wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect the rewrite to happen any quicker. Be patient with yourself, especially through the hard times. If you just can’t figure out how to revise your old narratives, then you could benefit from reading about Denial, and how to navigate that step of your journey.
If you’re feeling bolstered by your own narrative instead of defeated, don’t worry! There are still plenty of lessons to learn. If your struggles are constantly testing you on all the lessons you’re trying to learn, then you could benefit from reading about The Trial, and all the obstacles therein.
If you really want to put yourself in the driver’s seat when it comes to your mental health, the best thing you can do is book a counseling session with one of the many talented specialists in our practice!
Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.