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As many of you know, Rachel and I went on a 10-day Euro-trip this past August, and it was absolutely amazing. We explored ancient castles, ate incredible food, and went on so many walking tours that I’m now in need of new sneakers (including a Harry-Potter-themed tour of Edinburgh because, obviously).

Traveling back home, though, was … less than amazing.

After waking up before 6am and sitting through an 8-hour flight, we got in the longest customs line I’ve ever seen.

For nearly 3 hours, I lugged my heavy bags through endless weaving lines of people, feeling like I might get stuck in that warehouse-sized, fluorescent-lit beige room for the rest of my days.

Not anticipating this long of a wait, I hadn’t eaten much on the plane or stopped for a bathroom break (despite the several cups of orange juice I’d accepted from the flight attendant), so I was ill prepared for the marathon I’d unwillingly joined. Plus, because of the time difference, my body thought it was 10pm, even though it was only 5pm back in the States.

On top of the physical discomforts, I’m also a Highly Sensitive Person, which means that I tend to get overstimulated easily by masses of people. So standing in line with thousands of people — including crying children having temper tantrums (and who could blame them?) — felt like the sensitive person’s equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for hours on end.

The whole time I stood in that line, I remembered two mantras I’ve used to get me through challenging times in my life and played them on repeat in my mind:

“This won’t last forever,”and “you’ve made it through harder things than this before.”

THIS WON’T LAST FOREVER

When you’re in an uncomfortable situation, it can feel interminable — like you just might get stuck in that situation, feeling miserable for eternity.

That’s how I felt in that customs line. It’s also how I felt for the entire year and a half that I was at my last full-time job. I was unhappy every day in that place — the environment was draining (borderline toxic), I was bored out of my mind by the work, and I didn’t feel connected to the people there.

There were so many days at that previous job where I felt utterly trapped, like I might never escape that place.

But a small, quiet, wise place inside me knew the truth — that it wouldn’t last forever.

I would remind myself that this was just a temporary stop along the long trajectory of my career. I’d imagine how I would feel on the day that I walked out of that building for the very last time, knowing that finally this phase of my life was over.

Even though these uncomfortable moments in my life felt like an eternity at the time, looking back I have the perspective to realize that, not only did they eventually end, but they really didn’t last that long in big picture.

Three hours in a customs line is nothing in the grand scheme of my life. Barely a blip.

A year and a half at a job I hated is a bit longer, but even that was relatively short compared to the full expanse of my lifetime.

Even hardships that last significantly longer — challenges that last for weeks, months, even years — will eventually end. The one constant in life is change, so there’s no way your life will continue to look and feel exactly the way it does now.

You won’t feel like this forever.

YOU’VE MADE IT THROUGH HARDER THINGS THAN THIS BEFORE

As I was waiting in that horrendous line, trying to ignore my physical and emotional discomforts, I reminded myself that I’ve made it through much worse than this.

I’ve survived the grief of loved ones who have passed, and the heartbreak of relationships that ended, and the pain and uncertainty of health issues with no clear remedy.

If I could make it through those things, this was nothing in comparison.

More than likely, whatever you’re going through right now isn’t the hardest situation you’ve ever faced. So if you’ve survived through worse, then you have what it takes to make it through this, too.

Even if what you’re going through right now is the worst you’ve ever experienced, it’s certainly not the first challenge you’ve come up against in your life. The strength and resilience you’ve built up through all of your previous struggles has prepared you to handle this, too.

RESILIENCE = SELF-TRUST

While I wouldn’t wish discomfort or misery or hardships on anyone, I think there’s a hidden gem buried for each of us in the most difficult challenges we face: the self-trust we gain from building resilience.

It’s why people who have experienced extreme hardship — deaths of loved ones, serious health issues, traumas, etc. — say that they feel fearless, with a renewed vigor for life, on the other side. They’ve proven their strength and resilience through that terrible experience, so they trust themselves to handle anything else life throws their way.

Author and speaker Glennon Doyle has instituted a family motto that she repeats to her kids (and herself) when things get tough: We can do hard things.

I love this so much. Because life isn’t ever going to stop putting challenges in your path. You’re never going to be “done” with hardships or uncertainty or discomfort or fear or despair. But when you can trust yourself to do hard things and be resilient in the face of challenges, it all feels a lot more tolerable.

And one more thing…

THERE’S BEAUTY IN CONTRAST

After what felt like one of the longest days of my life (and possibly was the longest day of my life, considering I’d gained an extra 5 hours due to the time difference), I was overjoyed by the simplest things once I got home: eating a hot meal, taking a shower, and curling up in bed.

If you can endure a bit of discomfort, then comfort feels all the more luxurious.

If you’ve been in despair, you open yourself up to greater levels of joy on the other side.

If you’ve lived with uncertainty, then you can appreciate clarity like never before.

Going through hard times gives you the perspective to fully appreciate the best moments in life.

I’m not saying you have to like being in a challenging situation or pretend to have a positive outlook when you’re in the dumps … not at all! You’re absolutely allowed to feel upset or frustrated or disappointed or overwhelmed when you’re in the thick of it.

To deny those feelings would be to deny your humanity.

But hopefully it helps, even slightly, to remember that whatever challenging situation you’re in right now is building resilience, which is ultimately building self-trust. And that’s going to serve you for the rest of your life.

Plus, this won’t last forever … I promise.

What mantras have helped you get through tough times in your life? Share them with me, in the comments!

Much Love,

Kristen (& Rachel)


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  1. I also use “this won’t last forever “ whenever I need to get through something, but I also like to remind myself “you’ve done this before. You’ve got this!”. A little pep talk that always gives me a boost of confidence when I’m doing something new that’s a bit nerve wrenching. It works!

  2. Thank you for this gift – a reminder of the challenges that truly create resilience in us.
    Some other mantras that support me through difficulty are:
    “Like a River”… to remind me that I can be an observer of what is going on around me, and not grab ahold of it for dear life.
    As well..
    FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real – a reminder to be mindful of where the thoughts and feelings are coming from – and to ask how they are serving me.
    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all your blogs.
    Thanks for being real and vulnerable – it supports me being real.
    Love,
    Krista

    1. I love both of these! They’re so full of wisdom. I’ve heard FEAR used as an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real” before, but I never thought of using it as a mantra. I’m going to start using that! Thanks for reading and sharing these mantras — I’m sure they’ll be helpful to many other people.

  3. Thanks for the interesting post.

    I usually try to take a Stoic approach and think what I can do to make the situation better and if there’s nothing I can do, I have no choice but to accept it as it is. Also, I try to consider why I’m perceiving this situation as bad, and try to find things I can learn from it.

    And I’m stressing the word “try” here, because I fail a lot and give in to my emotions, but I guess every time I succeed it’s a step forward.

    Combined with your “This won’t last forever”, I think this can be a powerful tool to deal with life.

    1. Glad you found this helpful and interesting, Joanna! Thanks for sharing your approach. 🙂

      While I agree that it’s smart to ask yourself, “What can I do in this situation?” (far too many people get stuck in the complaining phase and forget that they can often change their circumstances, so you’re wise to look for solutions), I also think it’s perfectly OK to allow yourself to FEEL however you’re feeling in the situation. It’s totally normal to feel bummed, disappointed, stressed, angry, depressed, etc., and allowing yourself to feel those emotions can help you move through them more quickly. So maybe the solution is to do both! Give yourself time and space to feel however you’re feeling, and then shift into solution-mode. Thoughts?

  4. Hi Kristen, thank you for the reply.

    That’s actually a great point and I definitely have a tendency to rebuke myself for feeling the “bad feelings”. I’ve been reading too much stuff from the Stoic philosophers and every time I’m feeling angry or sad, I can imagine Seneca or Marcus Aurelius standing next to me and shaking their heads in disappointment…

    I’ve heard this advice before, but I think my cultural conditioning makes it difficult to acknowledge that people can feel angry, frustrated or sad and that it’s normal. I can remember my mother always telling me to stop crying “because people are watching” or trying to make me feel better when I was sad. I think for her it was a sign she wasn’t doing a good job as a mother, when her kids were sad.

    So anyway, I don’t want this to become too long, so thank you again. I’ll keep your advice in mind!

    1. Joanna — you are definitely NOT alone in feeling like you got conditioned to not feel emotions (especially “negative” emotions like sadness and anger), and to be hard on yourself when you DO feel those emotions. That’s incredibly common in our society!

      If you haven’t yet listened to our previous podcast episode about “Emotional Constipation” (I still love that title lol), that might help you give yourself permission to fully feel and express your emotions, without feeling like they’re taking over the logical part of you entirely. Would love to hear what you think about it!

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