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this too shall pass

A LOT OF THINGS MIGHT HELP you in your relationship, but when you try to sift out the most important, your ability to deal with conflict will be at or near the top of the list.

Would you like to experience less conflict? Would you like to feel calmer during conflicts? Would you like to resolve them easier? Here’s how: Remember whatever is happening is temporary. There are several reasons this principle is so important.

When someone assumes her problem is permanent, it can lead to depression, according to Martin Seligman, one of the top researchers in his field. Assuming that something bad is permanent is one of the biggest contributors to the downward spiral of depression, and depression is the most common psychological problem people experience — and one of the most destructive. Merely being disheartened is a mild form of depression. Although it’s milder, it happens more often. When you feel disheartened, you want to stop trying. This not only feels bad, it makes you less capable of dealing well with conflict.

Coming from an entirely different angle, Buddha tried to find out what caused suffering. By his own assessment, one of his most important findings is that when people fail to accept the temporary nature of things, they suffer more than they need to. According to Buddha (and I happen to agree with him on this), this lack of acceptance that things are temporary and always changing is one of the main sources of suffering for humanity.

When Abraham Lincoln was in the White House, he experienced stress, and that is an understatement if I’ve ever made one! Soldiers were getting slaughtered by the tens of thousands and Lincoln was the one sending them to their tragic deaths. He was a deeply empathetic man, so this tremendous slaughter caused him immense despair and sadness and pain. But it needed to be done, and decisions needed to be made every day. To keep himself calm enough to deal with it, he often said to himself, this too shall pass. He used this phrase as a kind of mantra. He was able to maintain his rationality and carry out his duties at a crucial time in history — largely by reminding himself again and again that whatever is happening is temporary.

This too shall pass. The one constant in this universe is that everything changes. Remind yourself of this and you’ll suffer less. You’ll get disheartened less often and less intensely. And — back to our original purpose — you’ll deal with conflict better.

Say that phrase to yourself next time you feel upset about something. Use it as a mantra. The circumstances that caused the upset will change — maybe not all of them, but some parts of your circumstances will change all by themselves fairly quickly. And remind yourself that your feelings will change inevitably, even if you do nothing to change them. You won’t stay upset forever. I know this is obvious to you now, but when you’re upset, you tend to forget this important truth.

It’s a simple idea, but it can dramatically ease the strain of the moment, making you better able to deal with it, creating less stress in your body, and making you a calmer person to interact with.

 

Say to yourself in times of stress:
This too shall pass.

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