Jul 042012

Fire by Travis Wiens

Have you ever faced a confusing situation where you did not know what to do or how to manage? Have you ever focused on a goal to the point that it compromised your judgement? Have your fears and doubts prevented you from taking decisive action when you should have?

You need inner clarity to manage any challenge you face. Without this inner brightness, it is akin to groping about in the dark, hoping to stumble upon an exit. At key points when you cannot afford to make mistakes, you are likelier to make many that will cost you dearly. How then can you maintain your clarity even in the most trying of times?

How to Maintain Clarity in Adversity

1. Seek a Worthy Source of Spiritual Wisdom

There are many different sources of spiritual wisdom in the world today. This is the result of Man’s reflection, throughout the ages, on how to manage life.

Certain beliefs and views may appeal to you while others may not. Follow your heart and mind. Go with the appealing belief or view that makes the most sense to you. In choosing a belief or a view, it is best to choose one that is good, right and just. If possible, choose a view that unites instead of divides, encompassing all instead of a select few. Only through love can we hope to have the clarity and brightness that we need to shine in life.

Most importantly, this belief or view has to be able to withstand and provide guidance even in times of trouble. This is when beliefs and views are truly tested.

2. Seek Many Worthy Sources of Wisdom

One source of wisdom may not be enough. Many issues in life are vast and complex. A source of wisdom may be applicable in some cases, but it may not have answers for others.

Do you remember how you read some books or watched some show as a child? You had certain views and impressions of what you read and watched then. Years later when you revisited these books and shows again, you viewed them differently. The content itself did not change, but you did. Thanks to your increased wisdom and experience, your understanding became much deeper than before.

The key here is to read widely and to select those ideas and beliefs that appeal to you most. It is easier to hold onto views and ideas that agree with you. When you nourish yourself with many sources of wisdom, you reap more benefits from each. You are also likelier to unlock deeper insights into each source than if you had merely relied on one source alone.

3. Goals and Purpose

Being in the midst of a complex situation can be rough and chaotic. It is like the storm tossing a boat back and forth. To worsen matters, it is hard to know what to do when confusion reigns.

But if you had an anchor during such times to give you a measure of stability, it would be easier to get your bearings in the midst of chaos. If you had an anchor that puts things in perspective, it becomes easier to know what to do. Thankfully, we all have our own unique anchors. This anchor is your greater goal or purpose.

Remembering your goal or purpose helps you to see things in perspective. You know at once, what is important and what is not. You know at once, what you should do and what you should not. With a goal in mind, your course of action in the midst of chaos will become clearer to you. Then, it is all a matter of doing what you can to follow your chosen path.

4. Master Your Feelings

There are many points in our lives when we become our worst enemy. This is certainly the case when our feelings obscure our clarity.

A lack of control over your feelings can rob you of your clarity. For example, fears and doubts can prevent you from taking decisive action. Anger can impair your judgement and cause you to act recklessly. Impatience can cause you to act at inopportune moments. Attachment to someone or something can make you less objective in your choices and actions and so on.

But negative feelings are not solely responsible for a lack of clarity. Even positive feelings when taken to excess can dim your clarity. Confidence can lead to arrogance. Contentment can lead to complacency. Joy can distract you at key moments when you should focus and so on.

When your feelings control or distract you, what you should or should not do becomes muddled. In such cases, you will lack the clarity you need to choose and act wisely. Whether your feelings are positive or negative, it is vital to ensure they do not go to extremes. To this end, you must maintain your balance and awareness of how you feel. Only when you are able to manage your feelings in all situations will you have the clarity to know how to act properly.

5. Patience

If you have the luxury of time, then let the dust of chaos and confusion settle. When the chaos has died down clarity comes a little more naturally to you. The key here is patience.

There have been times when I have been uncertain about how to proceed next. During such moments, I like to mull over the situation. If the answer is not instantly clear, I switch my focus to other matters. This allows me to step back and detach myself from the situation. Given enough time to think things through, the next step presents itself eventually.

But here it is vital not to act prematurely until you are certain of how to proceed. That is if you have the luxury of time. Otherwise, you have to define your goals and act as best as you can.

6. Constant Effort

To have clarity in life requires constant effort. Many things in this world can obscure the clarity we have. Endless choices, daily struggles, obsessions and temptations all have the power to distract us.

The only way to deal with the natural order of things is to nourish your mind and soul daily. Set aside time each day to cultivate your wisdom and brightness. Above all, always examine what you choose to depend on and cultivate. This will ensure that we do not stray too far from the right path and continue to have success and good fortune even in times of trouble.

Taking Action

Grave adversity can happen to anyone of us at anytime. In the midst of these difficulties, we must have the clarity to endure and to survive. We must not let hardships dim our brightness. The only way to do so is to cultivate our brightness daily by drawing on sources that sustain and nourish us. Only then will we know how to act in our best interests even when there is chaos around us.

How do you cultivate your clarity? What are your favourite sources of spiritual wisdom? How do you maintain your brightness in times of trouble? Do you have a mantra or a calming word or phrase? How do you share your clarity during good times? Do share your thoughts and comments below! :)

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  26 Responses to “How to Maintain Clarity in Adversity”

  1. Hi Irving,

    These points are truly outstanding. I particularly resonated with the idea of having our life purpose as an anchor. And, also, with applying patience. Patience is remarkable! When we can just step back from a situation and give it some space, clarity often naturally unfolds.

    Being present and aware in the moment is one of my most important keys to clarity as well as recognizing that whatever thoughts or emotions arise are transitory. Take the insights and leave the rest to float by without creating a story or drama from the thoughts and emotions. I resonate with the wisdom and compassion of the Buddhist teachings in particular so it’s quite natural now for me to find clarity and direction by returning to this source.

    These are excellent suggestions. Thank you for this guidance!
    Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..Indulge in Midsummer Mischief!My Profile

    • Hi Sandra,

      I am glad you agree with my points. :)

      I have relied on purpose and patience many times to regain my clarity when events obscured them. They are truly important in maintaining clarity in adversity.

      Being present and aware in the moment and being aware of impermanence are all great ways to maintain clarity.

      Buddhist teachings are a great source of spiritual wisdom in this world which we could all learn from.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments and pointers on maintaining clarity in adversity! :)

  2. Lot of wisdom as usual Vizier. Patience is very useful:) when facing adversity — to give yourself enough time to find the solution. Sometimes this is challenging especially when life doesn’t give you enough time to think about what decision next or require you to make a decision on the spot.. In those cases, we have to do the best we can for the moment and move onto the next decision.

    I love tip 2 as well and our blogging habbits bring a lot of wisdom into our lives:) I especially enjoy reading your blog for continued inspiration and practical wisdom! Thank you Vizier!

    • Hi Vishnu,

      I agree with you. Patience is very useful and I have relied on patience often to regain my clarity.

      But when I do not have the luxury of time, then I have to act as best as I can.

      Seeking many sources of wisdom is only prudent because life can be very complex. I always enjoy reading your blog because you have such a unique voice of inspiration and wisdom.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  3. Hi Irving,

    I enjoyed reading your post. It is in good timing. In the past few weeks, people have been coming to me about the choices that they have to make. Despite having gone for readings, they are still confused. I believe that it is fear of making the “wrong” choice that causes them even greater internal upheaval.

    I like what you said about making choices that unite and encompassing all. I believe that this is best to be interpreted in the context of the situation. The best choice could be letting go of the old (in which case, a separation from limiting relationships may be warranted in a specific situation) in order that one can move on into the new. Certain individuals may not see the letting go as a good thing but from a higher perspective, it can be.

    And yes, I absolutely agree that one needs to be a master of one’s emotions. When a person is clouded with negative emotions, it is hard to have clarity. You could be making a poor and unwise decision due to a negative emotional state.

    Point #5 is a great one. I try not to force myself to make a decision when I am not ready. Instead, I will allow myself to “sit” or meditate through, address my negative emotions and distract myself by watching comedies during the in-between periods when I am not thinking. I find that I become clearer when I permit myself some time to get clarity. I don’t generally find myself making great decisions when I am in a hurry.

    Thanks for sharing your views,
    Evelyn Lim recently posted..5 Reasons Why You Need to Love What You DoMy Profile

    • Hi Evelyn,

      Choices, especially when there is much at stake, is not easy to make. I can understand why people still fear making the “wrong” choice even after having readings done.

      You’re right. Making choices that unite and encompass all does depend on the context of the situation. Some times, letting go of the old is actually the best choice to make. Other times, it is better to hold on despite the odds.

      In the end, there is a time to act and there is a time to wait. It is always more prudent to wait until a better time when we are ready than to act prematurely. We should avoid needless problems whenever we can.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  4. An inspirational post, I definitely like your point on managing our feels. This one is really important, although it isn’t as easy as it sounds like to be.
    Jana recently posted..Zaha Hadid: Form in BewegungMy Profile

    • Hi Jana,

      Yes. Managing our feelings is very important if we want to maintain clarity in adversity. But as you rightly point out, it is not as easy as it sounds. This is why we need to train ourselves constantly during good times so that we will be ready when things go wrong.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  5. Hi Irving,

    Superb post that captures so many good points.

    I love the line “this belief or view has to be able to withstand and provide guidance even in times of trouble. This is when beliefs and views are truly tested”. This is so true and when it happens you just ‘know’.

    It does need constant effort, as I have found. I have had periods where when the practice of all the above is part of my daily life, and I have experienced moments of clarity. But life gets in the way, and I fall off the horse. I get up and go again. If it isn’t daily our old habits just come storming back in and take over, so your line “The only way to deal with the natural order of things is to nourish your mind and soul daily. Set aside time each day to cultivate your wisdom and brightness”. I think therein lies the true wise advice.

    Thanks for a very inspiring post.
    Keith recently posted..72 Things I Don’t Want To Regret On My DeathbedMy Profile

    • Hi Keith,

      Yeap. I always like to test the views and beliefs I have against reality. This way I will know what is useful and what is not. I will know what to rely on when the going gets tough.

      That’s the thing about clarity. We need to nurture it constantly. If we don’t it is easy for life to overwhelm us. It is easy to lapse into confusion.

      But if we work at having clarity each day, it is easier for our light to shine forth in dark times.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  6. I loved the combination of 1 and 2. So many people find a source of wisdom (like the Bible, for example), and everything else is dismissed.

    About controlling feelings, I don’t think we can control feelings directly. We can control our underlying thoughts and beliefs. And we can choose not to attach to feelings. The natural life span of a feelings is 90 seconds. After that we have to “feed” it with the energy of our thoughts. We can simply observe it and let it go instead.

    Wise advice, as always.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Thinking Out LoudMy Profile

    • Hi Galen,

      Yeah I know what you mean about people finding one source of wisdom and dismissing the rest.

      Maybe “controlling” feelings is not the right word. But what you have suggested about managing feelings is certainly in line with how I would deal with it under optimal conditions. To be aware of how our feelings work and to take the steps to manage them properly is important. But this takes constant cultivation and practice.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  7. Hi Vizier, I like your point of view. I try to rely on past experience and on the experience of others as my source of wisdom, and of course ask for God’s help first of all. I think there is a great deal that we can learn from everyone around us, even strangers on the street, but of course we need to discern which stuff is useful for us.
    Mariella Lombardi recently posted..Negative Calorie Foods – Eat As Much As You Want and Still Lose WeightMy Profile

    • Hi Mariella,

      Experience, ours or others, is a great source of wisdom. This is largely because it has been tested against reality.

      But as you have rightly pointed out, we have to discern which stuff is useful for us. Just because it has worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work the same way for us. We are all unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  8. You have made some great suggestions on how to maintain clarity. I like No. 2 because so often we seek one source of spiritual advice and stop there. We may reject that type of advice altogether if it doesn’t meet our needs. Many thoughts and ideas can help us understand what is really going on. Patience is another great one. We have all become used to instant gratification. Being patient and staying positive can help us get through those difficult times. Inspiring, thank you!
    Cathy | Treatment Talk recently posted..Love Them Until They Can Love ThemselvesMy Profile

    • Hi Cathy,

      It is always good to have a holistic view of the situation rather than just relying on one source. I always believed that it is a good idea to take what works and what appeals to us and apply it to the situation as needed. We never know where we may find the insights that we are looking for so it is best not to dismiss things too quickly.

      Patience is indeed important in many areas of life. If we only took the time to think things through carefully, the world would be a very different place.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  9. You have made great points in this post. If one will closely follow the ideas you shared, it will surely be a great way not to freak out during tough moments.
    Silvana recently posted..learn to ballroom dance with the learn and master ballroom danceMy Profile

  10. Actually, there is a big chaos around me and my life nowadays, I suffer from the lack of clarity in my mind and soul… I am going to give your points a try, they seem to be working if I could control myself enough.
    Aletta recently posted..What are dental implants?My Profile

    • Hi Aletta,

      I am sorry to hear about the chaos and lack of clarity in your life.

      I do hope my suggestions can help you somewhat. Clarity will not happen overnight, but if you make the effort, you will have greater clarity in time to come.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  11. This post reminds me of two things: an article I wrote for our university’s paper about achieving peace in the midst of conflict, and Kung Fu Panda 2. I am not joking. This topic is one of the toughest to write about.
    Jeffrey recently posted..jamorama – the best guitar software in the marketMy Profile

    • Hi Jeffrey,

      Achieving peace in the midst of conflict is certainly not easy.

      I can imagine why my article reminded you of Kung Fu Panda 2 though haha!

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  12. Such an interesting text! I really like your point on the importance of patience, nowadays, a lot of people are suffering from the lack of patience, I think. They all are stressed too much.
    Angela recently posted..Jeans – die coolen AlltageMy Profile

    • Hi Angela,

      Yes you are right. In this world where we expect everything to happen yesterday, we can all suffer from a lack of patience.

      Still, patience is something we should try to cultivate. This will change our lives for the better in the long run.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  13. Adversities happen, there is nothing to do with that, the only thing is to handle them with care. An optimal combination of patience and activity can lead to be able to survive them, your points are all helpful in a situation like that. Thanks for sharing them, I bet they are going to help many people!
    Gitta recently posted..Warum ist das Leben der Frauen teurer?My Profile

    • Hi Gitta,

      Yeap you’re right. Whether we like it or not, we are all bound to face adversity in life at some point or other. All we can do is to manage them well.

      It is true, if we are patient and take the right kind of actions in accord with the situation, we can overcome almost any adversity.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

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