Life is hard. But it doesn’t have to be. If you want to make your life even a little bit easier, here’s a way to change your perspective on tackling the problems you encounter – emotional discipline.
Keep in mind that the less snow you have in your life, the better the solutions you come up with.
The ice cube that became a snowman is one of my favorite analogies. Imagine that every task you have to accomplish is an ice cube that you have to melt. If you think about it, melting an ice cube is not that hard to achieve. The quicker you think of efficient and effective ways to melt them, the better. And the sooner you finish your tasks, the more time you bank for yourself. You have more room for personal hobbies and projects, and even rest and selfcare. You just have to melt your ice cubes.
However, as part of the human experience, we don’t just melt the ice cubes. We also find mounds of snow around us. Now imagine that these piles of snow represent the negativity we encounter on a daily basis. We experience misplaced emotions, negative storylines, and barriers of performance such as procrastination, interruptions, and worrying. And we can’t help it–it is simply a part of our lives.
What happens to our ice cubes now? We take them and put them in the snow. In other words, we try to solve the tasks that we need to do, but we add in the negativity.
We may be upset about a certain situation, and let that feeling hinder us from melting an ice cube, hence misplaced emotions. We add in negative storylines and convince ourselves that we don’t want to melt the ice cube. We let out all this negative energy, but the ice cubes are still somewhere in the mounds of snow. And the bigger our snowman grows, the harder they are to melt.
There is only so much we can give on a daily basis. We have to remember that our energy, time, and resources are finite.
For us to be able to think, feel, do, and simply be, we have to conserve that energy, and spend it on solving our tasks. When we allow piles of snow to take over our ice cubes, we are only making our lives harder. It isn’t the tasks that cause the stress. Melting the ice cubes is not hard. It’s the negativity that slows us down.
Of course, there is a way to stop the snow from piling up in our lives. If we can interrupt the pattern of packing in the snow, then we can free up our capacity. We can start choosing not to worry. Pause, and work your way through your tough situations with a problem solving framework. This will allow you to create different ways to minimize the anxiety.
Once we find ways to subtract worrying from our lives, then we allow ourselves to choose what we do with the time that we’re not stuck on our ice cubes and snowmen.
It is also important to remind yourself that growth is not a linear experience. As we start problem solving, we will encounter ups and downs. All we have to do is to embrace the ups and downs. Understand that life leads you through endless highs and lows. Just remember that the dips do not mean you are failing; they mean you are growing.
Moving forward, we will encounter numerous challenges in our lives. You may (and you certainly will) feel irritated about life when it’s really about one particular situation. You might not want to solve the tasks that need to be solved. When you feel your snowmen and snow mounds piling up again, remember that it is okay to be curious about those feelings. Sit with it for a little bit, and then unpack it, and then figure it out.
If you want to make your life easier, look at the snow. Within the snow you will find the destructive stresses, the anxiety, and the negative energy. And in between all of those, you will also find the puzzle pieces to have more emotional discipline by unpacking these issues and developing yourself. As we solve our problems little by little, we can also be more productive, and live an easier and happier life.