I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “this too shall pass”. It has its origins in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets – and has been used through the ages to express the idea of the inevitability of change in life and the fleeting transience of the human condition. It’s a phrase I have come back to time and again throughout my life. It brings reassurance and comfort in challenging times; a reminder that there is always an end to pain and hardship – that there is light at the end of the tunnel. But it also inspires reflection and gratitude. Times can be good, but still life moves on; so we should savour each moment and be thankful for our good fortune. It’s a phrase that can help us in all sorts of situations.
To cope with hardship.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge most of us will ever have faced in our lifetimes. It has exposed the fragility of the society that we as humans have constructed around us. There is fear and uncertainty – for our health and that of our loved ones, for our economic futures and for the stability of the planet. But this too shall pass. We have witnessed other countries halting the spread of the virus and gradually emerging from lockdown. We will get through this incomparable hardship and emerge on the other side. The world may be a very different place, but we will make it through, adapt to our new reality and start to rebuild our lives and societies – perhaps for the better.
To manage stress at work.
Everyone experiences good and bad times at work. Perhaps there is a relationship conflict with a boss, or you are struggling with workload or balance. Perhaps you are finding it tough to adapt to the challenge of working from home in stressful times. Remind yourself that ‘this too shall pass’. Think about what aspects of your situation are in your ability to control and focus on those. Your circumstances will change – do what you can to make that happen.
When experiencing emotional pain.
If you’ve experienced loss or betrayal, you’ll understand the feeling of raw and visceral trauma – the physical pain that an emotional wound can cause. But know that this too shall pass. Although the loss of a loved one will always hurt, the nature of the pain will change. The acute and unbearable feelings of fresh grief will always give way to a lower-level ache that is more manageable. You will be able to cope and move on.
When raising a family.
Our families are the ultimate blessing, of course – but there’s no doubting that bringing up small children can be challenging and emotionally and physically exhausting. When you have a baby who won’t sleep through, a toddler who won’t eat or a wayward and defiant tween – remind yourself that this too shall pass. Your children will grow and change very quickly – a tantrumming toddler will not be one for very long. If you know the tough times will end, you will have the strength and resilience to get through them.
When homeschooling your kids.
Many of us are currently experiencing the challenge of homeschooling our kids while trying to work at home. Unless you have a natural talent for teaching and the patience of a saint, this is a tough ask. It’s frustrating, exhausting and worrying – are we teaching them properly, are they learning enough – will their education suffer? But this too shall pass. These weeks will go by, we will adapt, adjust our expectations – and it will get easier. The kids will eventually go back to school and we may have learned something about ourselves (and our children) from the experience – however trying it may seem at the moment.
And in happier times:
When being present in nature.
When the weather’s good and you can get outside – remind yourself of the fleeting nature of a perfect day. Because it will pass, make sure you appreciate it at the time. Be mindful of your surroundings and sensations – notice the wind in the trees or the sun on your face. Listen to birdsong or the lazy buzzing of bees, savour a sunrise or the smell fresh cut grass. Bank these as pleasurable memories for a not so perfect day.
When you’re achieving in your career.
When you’ve won that promotion and everything’s going your way at work, remember that things can change. Be positive and confident, of course – but don’t become complacent when things are going well. Make sure you keep learning and building up your skill-set, experience and networks. Always plan for the future – even when the present is just fine. That way if something unforeseen occurs, you will be in a stronger position to adapt and cope.
When feeling financially stable.
It’s great when we are feeling financially secure – not having to worry about money is a huge privilege. But as we are discovering right now, there are no certainties in life – circumstances can change very quickly. Make sure you use the advantage of financial stability to put money aside and plan contingency for the future. You never know when you may need it.
To hear me talk more about ‘this too shall pass’ – tune into this week’s podcast episode #58. And contact me firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information about my Having it all coaching programme.