One of my favorite teachers, Richard Rohr, has said that suffering occurs when we aren't getting what we want. In a society, age, and culture of instant gratification, in which most of us are accustomed to getting what we desire in one click, this sets us up for severe disappointment on a fairly regular basis.
In this life, disappointment is inevitable, and the sooner we learn, experience, and accept let down and rejection, the quicker we develop the necessary skills to bounce back from the hurt. Essentially, we learn to handle strife by working through it and coming out on the other side – stronger, more flexible, and transformed.
The Buddhists say that in any situation YOU are the deciding factor. You can take a good situation and make it better, you can take a good situation and make it worse. You can take a bad situation and make it better, or you can take a bad situation and make it worse. You're at the middle, you are the deciding factor, and you get to decide how to handle it.
If a situation keeps deteriorating, or if you seem to encounter the same issues in every job/relationship/activity, eventually you have to look at the common denominator.. The person in the middle of our circumstance is always us, and everything around us circumstantial. And I think that's good news! It implies that we have a say in how our life unfolds. It's not happening to us, rather it's a happening thing, and we are learning to handle ourselves with more grace.
Slugging through the muck of a terrible situation doesn't have to be so terrible when we let challenging circumstances be our teacher. Through the difficulty we gain essential tools, skills, and techniques to become the master architect of every situation.
Think of a current situation that's giving you a headache or heart ache. Make a list of how you're handling it. Ask yourself if you're gripping, grasping, clinging, manipulating, carefully finessing, patiently sculpting, or even letting a good opportunity slip through your fingers. If you'd like to handle it differently, look at it as the perfect opportunity to practice.