A great way to look at life’s challenges is as if they’re tests. Literally. Do you want to pass it? It’s okay either way, because if you don’t pass it, then you’ll just take it again later. It’s not personal, and it’s not good or bad. It’s just how life works, that’s all. It’s the law.
So what does it mean to “pass” the test? It just means that you handled it well. It’s not really about the outcome, either. It’s all about how you handled it. The funny thing is, though, that the better you handle it, the better the outcome tends to be. We still have to release wanting a certain outcome, though; that just sets us up for failure. And we really don’t know what’s best for us, anyway. The extreme version of this is the control freak.
One of the most powerful examples I can think of comes from a woman I met at The Monroe Institute (aka “Consciousness Camp”) back in 2006. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this in a previous post, but it’s worth repeating because it’s so powerful. Basically, her elderly mother was beaten up pretty badly and robbed. She could not figure out how anyone could actually beat up a “defenseless old lady.” It sounded like the guy got her pretty good, too. She and her sisters were absolutely filled with rage, as most normal people would be. This woman viewed life’s challenges as tests, though, and she definitely did not want to have to take this one again! This way of looking at it gave her the extra strength and motivation needed to try her best to forgive this person. Her sisters wished him pure hell, a fate worse than death. They could not get past their anger, and this is totally understandable. The woman who told the story, though, had been looking at things differently. She wanted to pass the test. This enabled her to find a way to forgive. And she felt all that anger and rage move on. While her sisters were still stuck in it, she was eventually able to move past it. So her life was more peaceful as a result.
Take a quick look and see if some of the same challenges come up over and over again in your own life. If so, this usually means you have to handle it differently. There’s a lesson you still need to learn in order to pass the test. At the very least, try something else out and see what happens. Be a scientist about it. What do you have to lose? And if you don’t know what to do differently, use your intuition. Or do some inner work, like forgive. My next blog, A Deep Mind, will go into much more detail about this inner work. That’s a good ways off, though. I have to finish my current job (around the end of the year) before I can really go off the deep end… I’ve written about doing inner work before outer work here, though.
So give it a try and let me know if any of those recurring challenges seem to move on; I’d love to hear about it. And the trick in the heat of the moment, as soon as you notice that something “bad” has happened, is to immediately tell yourself, “This is a test” or “Pass the test” or even just, “Test.” Whatever works for you. If you get in the habit of doing this, of telling yourself just a few words right away, then it keeps the mind from going back to its old ways and freaking out. You snap out of it and handle the situation much better. You pass the test.
There’s probably another one lined up, though, because that’s how life on earth works. We’ll talk much more about the “why” over at A Deep Mind in the future. For now, though, we’ll just train ourselves on exactly what to do when the tests come, and then we practice that and hone our skills. And life eventually becomes more peaceful. You’ll have to take all of these tests at some point anyway, so I say there’s no time like the present. Bring it on. And as you get better and better at passing tests, they’re not as big a deal. So now that you’ve done some good studying, I say good luck with the next test. And do let me know if any of the recurring old ones, the “broken records,” fade away with this new attitude. Happy practicing!