Dealing With Adversity

Dealing with adversity and rejection is an extremely important emotional skill as all of us will be faced with not getting our way at some point in our lives. Many of us were not taught this emotional skill as we were growing up and have been using our default option to be able to deal with the setbacks in our life. In general most of us either have an optimistic outlook on life or a pessimistic outlook on life.

In terms of Ayurveda an optimistic mindset is related to the guna of Sattva and a pessimistic mindset is related to Tamas. Sattva is translated as self-truth. When we understand our true nature as spirit then we are able to be more optimistic. By connecting with source we enrich our ability to tackle any challenge that comes our way. On the other hand when we only look at the material nature of things and measure our lives based on what we have accumulated then we don’t have a lot of resources to deal with adversity. This is the mindset of Tamas where what we see is all there is.

 When we are able to have a recognition that we are a body, mind and soul then we recognize that the resources we have at our disposal are much more than just the body and mind. This connection with the subtlest parts of ourselves is optimism. Optimism is the strong expectation that things will turn out right. When we experience setbacks and frustrations there is a deep knowing that comes from a place beyond the mind where we recognize that things will turn out alright. Things will turn out for the best because there is a core belief that the future can be changed. So even if there is a setback the results can be changed an eventually you will succeed. This could be considered the difference between fate and destiny. Optimists focus on their destiny. They focus on what is within their circle of influence and the things they can change instead of focusing on the things they can’t change. Fate.

Pessimists that are governed by Tamas focused on the skills and weaknesses of the mind and body and when faced with setbacks they take the blame for failure. They have a false belief that they have permanent characteristics that they are unable to change and they are subject to the external circumstances around them.

So if you feel Tamasic, but you recognize the benefits of having a Sattvic mindset how do you make the change. In order to make the transition to Sattva you will move through a transitional mindset called Rajas. Rajas is characterized by activity and assertiveness. Tamas is happy being agreeable with the idea that it cannot change, that they are inherently flawed and they have already given up on being different. Rajas directly confronts each of these thoughts. The first step in using Rajas to move towards Sattva is to become self-aware of your tamasic thoughts and ask yourself a few questions. For example the thought I am not worthy of love. You ask yourself

  • Is this true?
  • Is this absolutely true?
  • Is there any circumstance under which this is not true?

It is NOT true that you are NOT worthy of love. You have just come to believe that is true. It is not absolutely true it is likely that you can find at least one person in your life who loves you. There are circumstances with your friends or family that will remind you that this thought is not true.

In the moment, as your pessimistic thoughts come up do this process. Eventually the rajasic mindset will prevail where you begin to question your old beliefs and can no longer live in ignorance. Through this you will be able move towards Sattva. After you recognize the errors in your thinking it is time to start building new thoughts. Affirmations like:

I am connected to source
The divine works through me
Obstacles are blessings in disguise
I am confident in my ability to deal with adversity

Make your own affirmations in order to rewire your thoughts towards optimism. As you begin to notice more consistent optimistic thoughts. Once those thoughts become your default then Sattva will become your dominant mind state. We are a part of nature and nature has different seasons. It cannot be summer year round in order for nature to thrive. Our minds are the same way. You will not get rid of tamas and rajas, but instead you will minimize the amount of time where they are your dominant mind state.

You will remain inclusive of your entire self instead of punishing the part of you that thinks pessimistically. You will invite this part of you into your life and by embracing it you can steward it towards change.

Not sure if you are an optimist or pessimist? Take this test:
Seligman Optimism test