Like me, you may have had the experience of picking up a heavy load, sometimes grudgingly, sometimes willingly... never imagining the stamina it would take to continue that excruciatingly heavy lift over time.
It might look like being furloughed from the company who told you only last week that they had your back - or it might look like being the person in charge of determining the furloughs, knowing the huge impact your decisions have on people you care about.
Or it might look like another complication after serious cancer treatment, just when you thought it was safe to breathe again.
Or, it might look like being a physician and taking the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 over and over again in the hospital, while trying to have a family life, including a healthy pregnancy.
Or, as a young person, it might look like struggling to find your way under the heavy mantle of depression or addiction.
Super heavy loads are handed to all of us at some point in our lives.
How do you grow the muscles to sit with overwhelming, grueling discomfort?
Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor famously said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
When I am deeply hooked by grueling discomfort and I remember, I fill that space with sitting in the present moment - three belly breaths, closing my eyes and watching my breath, noticing the breeze sweep by my cheek. I catch my breath.
After that, I am more able to step back, focus on the big picture, determine what I do have control over, find moments of gratitude, give myself some credit, speak my story to others who I trust to hold it, and build hope.
I accept the fact that I have heavy lifts in my life because it is an unavoidable part of living a whole-hearted life. I can choose, with self-awareness, to step back, to breathe and reflect along the way. That is up to me.
Remembering the "space" helps determine my actions. And actions, aligned with values, supports optimal health.