A summary of the key points from Chapter of Pema Chödrön’s book, “When Things Fall Apart : Heart Advice for Difficult Times”. In this chapter, she discusses the secret to dealing with uncertainty and the key to live with less suffering.
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I strongly believe that things come into your life at the right time : a new friendship, a new job, a sign from the Universe…or a book.
After things fell apart in my life, I wanted to make 2020 a year of building my emotional strength and resilience. I consider myself a strong person, but there’s nothing like a really bad heartbreak to challenge you.
I was challenged in every way possible, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
My views on life and relationships and the dream life I was creating…were all put into question.
What I thought to be true…didn’t seem so real anymore.
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And piece by piece, I’ve had to re-build a new life for myself. I’ve had to put myself back together after falling apart, over and over again.
Comes in my new favourite book, “When Things Fall Apart : Heart Advice for Difficult Times” by Pema Chödrön.
This book was recommended to me by one of my closest friends and I am so grateful to her. This is going to be a book that I go back to, over and over again, throughout my life.
I even bought a copy of it to highlight and take notes so that over the years, as I go through it again, I can see how my understanding and perspective has changed and how the years have give me the wisdom (hopefully) to understand, appreciate and embrace times of uncertainty.
For this blog post, I wanted to share a few key points from Chapter 2 of the book, where Pema Chödrön shares insight into uncertainty.
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Because let’s be honest, our lives are filled with uncertainty and questions and unknowns, and I don’t know about you, but accepting uncertainty is something that I really struggle with.
That’s why this chapter particularly resonated with me, and I’m hoping that it’ll help you as well.
Chapter summary | How to deal with uncertainty
In this chapter, Pema Chödrön explains that suffering comes from our inability to accept a situation and having expectations about how things should be.
If we want to live without suffering, then we have to learn how to embrace uncertainty, and to realize that life is uncertain, and the only certain thing is that things are always changing.
Because it’s moments of uncertainty, when we face challenges, that we have a choice about how we respond to it. Whether we will be kind, gentle and patient with ourselves and the situation, or whether we will feel frustrated and resentful about what is happening to us.
Life is constantly changing, at every moment, and “we think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for mystery, for joy.” (page 9)
It’s in moments of uncertainty that we have to learn how to sit with the emotions instead of fighting them. That we have to learn to appreciate that we can either accept the inevitable, rather than fighting it and making it harder for ourselves.
Because the reality of life is that we don’t know anything: we don’t know what will happen in the future, and we don’t have control over it. We only have control over how we face it.
And our suffering comes from our belief that things will last. That our suffering will last. That the situation will not be resolved. But the truth is that uncertainty and the unknown is part of life, and it’s inevitable.
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Times of uncertainty and challenges can be gifts where we learn more about ourselves, where we grow, where we have unique experiences, and where our future selves are shaped intro something stronger and more resilient.
“Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it.”
The solution is to stick with the uncertainty, embrace it, accept it, and to try and relax through the chaos, instead of panicking.
Take a few moments and observe how you’re feeling and answer the following questions to reflect on what you just learned:
- What resonated the most with you from this post?
- Can you write down a quote somewhere visible to remind yourself of the lesson you learned? Perhaps on your phone, or on a piece paper that you can leave on your fridge or on your night table or on your mirror.
- Is there a situation in your life, right now, where you can apply what you just learned?
I would highly recommend this book. The chapters are short but powerful. I read one chapter every night before bed (and it only takes me 5-10 minutes) and I learned so much already!