Remember when you were a kid and you thought that the whole world revolved around you? Everything and everyone in life was designed for the sole purpose of how you were going to get precisely what you wanted.
Nothing else mattered except you and your pursuit of germs, small animals, inappropriate places to poo and things you could hide in.
There comes a point in our lives however when we start to realise we aren’t the centre of the universe we thought we were.
That difficult moment when we accept that sometimes we have to go second not first. When we have to say no, not yes. Or when we have to smile and say nothing at all.
Because we aren’t the centre of this world we live in, and do you know what, that’s just fine.
This is one of the first difficult truths we learn in life but there are more to come and our failure to acknowledge and accept them can have a significant effect on our lives.
Our happiness and well-being is proportional to how many difficult truths we’re prepared to accept. This is because our struggles in life are generally related to our resistance to accepting one of these truths.
Failure to accept the truths means we create our lives around the antithesis of them. We deny them, avoid them and withhold ourselves from living in the truth that exists around them. But these truths are waiting for us and the sooner we accept them the better our lives will be.
These truths are tough to accept and they’re not written to scare you but to liberate you from the expectations you may have of what you think life is about, who you should be and what you should do.
Each truth, based on the writings of Richard Rohr*, has a payoff; something important to remind you that each truth comes as a gift once we learn to accept it.
1. Life Is Tough
There’s no getting away from it, life is hard. We can easily be tricked into believing the “show reel” of people’s lives that they choose to share with us. The reality is that life is tough for everyone, even if they don’t want you to realise it.
Elon Musk was recently asked what his amazing life was like. He responded:
“The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. Don’t think people want to hear about the last two.”
He’s right. People don’t want to admit that someone like him finds life difficult. It’s more convenient to believe he’s special and life is one success after another (check out the history of Tesla and SpaceX and you’ll see the truth).
We have this idea that if it’s not effortless then it’s not meant to be, so we give up and wait for the next thing to come along.
That’s rubbish. Life is tough for everyone and our greatest successes in life come out of pain and adversity.
So the question is not if you’ll experience pain in life but what will you do with it when it arrives?
Think of the greatest lessons you’ve ever learned in life. What was the event that triggered the lesson?
In my experience it’s always the hard knocks I’ve received that have helped me grow the most. The rejections, the failures, the falls and the embarrassing moments falling flat on my face.
Yes life is tough, which is fine because that’s how you grow.
2. You Are Not That Important
We’ve all been there. We walk into a bar we’ve never been to before, in a town we’ve never visited before, and it seems totally normal to believe that our sheer entrance would explain why the group of guys in the corner start laughing.
It’s my nose, that spot, this new cravat I’m wearing.
No, it’s not.
They don’t even know you exist and they certainly aren’t thinking of you.
It’s you that’s thinking of you!
Me, Me, Me, Me, Me
So much of what happens in our lives is viewed through a lens of what we’re making it mean about us.
My partner gets a new job.
What does that mean about me?
Someone ignored me at the supermarket.
What does that mean about me?
The difficult truth is you’re not that important. People are not up at night worrying about your thoughts on Donald Trump, or whether you stared at the new babysitter for a moment too long.
Contrary to what Facebook and Twitter feeds would suggest, your thoughts are not that important. And yes I am aware of the irony spouting my views in this article.
We’re encouraged to believe we are all so very important which causes us to look inwards instead of outwards.
So I’m not that important?
What a relief!! I’m not that important!! People aren’t thinking about me all the time!! I don’t have to waste valuable time giving a crap what others think of me!!
Once you accept this then you can start to ask what is important. Who is important in my life? What is more important than me? Who and what do I want to dedicate my life to?
This helps to liberate us from our thoughts and expectations. It takes the pressure off us and helps us get the perspective on life that we need.
Yes you are not that important, which is great because now you can find what is.
3. You Are Not In Control
One of the modern mantras of our time is “take back control” and with years of hurt and oppression in so many cultures, you can understand why.
How can you guarantee that you’ll get what you want unless you take full control of the situation? This is what our culture teaches us; take control, get what you want and you’ll live happily ever after.
This can be a difficult road though as that belief comes with a lack of trust, so we extend the need for control beyond ourselves, into our relationships and beyond.
Letting go of control, trusting and being vulnerable in front of others is not something we often see modeled today, especially from men.
That’s because we are designed to listen to our fears to keep us safe. Our evolution has taught us to ensure we can control our surroundings so we don’t get hurt.
But this survival instinct isn’t necessary in today’s society and that control has morphed into something that causes us pain.
As Richard Rohr said:
“Suffering is the fear that you’re not in control”
To cease suffering is to cease believing you are in control. With the release of control comes a sense of trust and from here something greater will flow through you.
In her TED talk, Your Elusive Creative Genius, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about genius, and how the common parlance is now to describe that a person “is” a genius. As if they had possession and control of this valuable gift and were able to wield it at will.
For many years however, it was believed people “had” genius. Genius was believed to be a gift that would present itself to us at moments in our life. She suggests that we have to let go and surrender to it when it arrives and all we can do is to prepare ourselves to receive it as best we can.
This change in belief is core to the idea that we are in control of who we are and what we create in the world, instead of something passing through us.
The sooner you admit you are powerless the sooner you can find your true power and gifts in the world. Let go of the reins so that you can be guided by the riches of life and everything that it has to offer you.
Yes you are not in control, but that means you can learn how to trust.
4. You Are Going To Die
In a recent study 68% of Americans admitted to being afraid of death, second only to public speaking at 74%. So as Jerry Seinfeld once said:
“This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy”
It’s clear however that the idea of death scares people a great deal which might be why we attempt to avoid it so much, both in our lifestyle and our beliefs.
I heard a story from a journalist who was comparing the Fleet Street journalists of the 1980s with those same men today. Whiskey bottles and packs of Marlboros swapped for Nutribullets and trainers.
Extending your life by a few years is one thing but doing so in fear of your death won’t make those extra years so worthwhile.
In ancient cultures and tribes there were rituals, ceremonies and initiations where boys would be killed for the man to be born. Death was a necessary part of life and was used to mark the passing of stages of a man’s life. It was embraced because it was only through death that the man truly lives.
If you don’t embrace death then you will fear it and that fear will stop you from ever truly living your life.
The sooner you embrace this, the sooner you can move beyond the fear associated with it and embrace the life you always said you would.
What would you do if I told you that you had a year to live? How differently would you live your life? Where would you go? Who would you forgive? What would you create?
Yes you’re going to die, but not yet!
I hope this post was helpful. Do you have any other difficult truths you would add? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you enjoyed it. For regular content like this just click subscribe below.
To your success
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