A Coaching Power Tool Created by Alfreda McCray
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
This too shall pass.
In my most trying times, during failures and setbacks, the understanding that has helped me the most is the realization that nothing lasts forever. Somehow, someway change occurs whether within the situation or within myself, but the one constant is change. This mindset has been my friend and liberator over the years. It has given me hope and reminded me of my ability to choose.
The Nature of Seasons
There are certain times in life, times of particular discomfort, pain, or unfamiliarity where I simply want change to come quicker than its actual arrival time. And in those times I hold unto the understanding that this too shall pass—perhaps not in the timing I would like but just as the sun sets during the day and the moon rises at night, our world is in constant motion. At this very moment, our planet travels around the sun at an astounding speed—over one thousand miles an hour. The consistency of the spinning creates our seasons and because of this, with a fair degree of predictability, those of us in the North America know that summer will start in June and winter in December. Our lives also have seasons, some feel like summer—radiant and bountiful, some like the harsh cold of winter, or some with the fresh rain of spring; however no season lasts forever. Whatever the situation or circumstance, while you might feel stuck, by the very nature of the cosmos, you will not stay where you are forever. Something will change—even if that something happens to be an internal shift in perspective. Although the situation seems permanent it is only temporary. Seasons and life are ever changing.
Temporary versus Permanent in Practice
Here’s are a few examples to illustrate this principle. Let’s say I asked you to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Depending on your physical ability, you might be filled with anxiety or excitement about this prospect.
Now let’s say I asked you to run on a treadmill for an indefinite amount of time. How do you feel about the likelihood of achieving this task? Would you still be up for the challenge? If not, think about what changed in the request. In the 30-minute scenario you probably have a fair assessment about what you can or cannot do in the finite time, but the second example pushes those limitations indefinitely, the end is unknown. There’s a higher degree of uncertainty and a low chance of success. Thankfully, this is not a real-world request. However, the example highlights the very real feeling that life can sometimes invoke; it can very much feel like a treadmill and the jog feels like it goes on forever.
Consider yet another scenario—same request as the second example, but you now have the ability to control the treadmill—you can slow down, speed up, or get off whenever you choose. You may have long intervals or short intervals but you know that these increments are fixed, temporary units of measure. Your pace and the cadence of your run are totally controlled by you. Does your challenge seem impossible to overcome now? What changed in this scenario? You have flexibility and options. You have choice.
When we can’t see our way out of or through circumstances, we can at least control how we approach the circumstance. And perhaps our only option is our ability to choose how we view ourselves in the predicament. The temporary versus permanent perspective has made a huge difference in allowing me to choose how I approach life’s challenges. It also helps me deal with winter, the season I like the least. Yes, the winter is awful and cold but it will end.
Here are some other applications for the temporary versus permanent perspective:
Notice any difference between the temporary and permanent perspectives? In the temporary perspective, everything is subject to change. In the permanent perspective, nothing is possible and there is no opportunity to change. And, the key is choice. I can choose how I show up and see myself as a change agent actively responding to life’s challenges. This mindset empowers me to decide whether I live in hope or despair.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.― Viktor E. Frankl,
- If you are going through a particularly difficult season in your life, make a list of those areas then apply both the permanent and temporary perspectives. What does each perspective allow? What opportunities or options are present? What can you choose?
- Consider how this power tool can be used to challenge limiting beliefs by creating empowering affirmations. List three beliefs that may be permanent-oriented i.e. containing words such as “I’ll never,”“it will always,” “it is useless,” then challenge the belief with temporary-oriented perspective i.e. I may be struggling with ___________ now, but I know this will not last forever. I can get through this by believing/being/doing ____________ and/or with the support of _____________________. I can choose how I show up and see myself as a change agent actively responding to life’s challenges.