I recently learned that a client was coping so much better with the pressures happening in her life, so of course I asked ‘What is helping you to cope?’ She replied ‘I’ve gained an ability to recognize triggers, I have a strategy to evaluate my thoughts before they affect my behaviour and my faith is helping me to set up boundaries to resist the feelings that I’m going to collapse whenever something unexpected happens.’
Wow! For someone whose external troubles have not diminished since the day we met, her new-found internal fortitude is helping her to stay strong until life changes! I was so proud of her (and I had to write down what she just said!)
Her words reminded me of one of my favorite illustrations. The illustration of the pop can.
When a pop can is empty, it’s easy to crush. Anyone can do it. And as the external pressure increases, the can will begin to take on the shape of the forces that are being exerted against it. On the other hand, when the pop can is full, the pressure that comes from the surrounding environment cannot easily crush or destroy the can. The pressure from the inside resists the pressure from the outside. It remains recognizably true to it’s original shape and design, although it might sport a few dents that indicate it endured some pressure.
This illustration is a lot like life. When we’re empty of vision, strategies and faith we can be easily crushed, often taking on the negative characteristics of the environment our life exists in. But when we’re full, the pressure of life still comes and yet it is fruitless to change us in any significant way. Our internal strength withstands the challenges occurring without.
The famous Greek philosopher Socrates once strongly stated ‘the unexamined life is not worth living.’ Although his words may seem a little harsh, I agree. Taking time for personal examination can make life more meaningful. It provides opportunity to clearly see what’s inside, make changes where necessary and strengthen potentially weak areas. Taking inventory of the contents of our life allows us to replenish depleted areas before the challenges of life take their toll.
Most days I see the tragic effects of a life not examined. I’m usually very quick to say ‘you’re not crushed yet!’ The truth is, it’s never too late to start! So…..if today were examination day, ask yourself very sincerely ‘what’s in my pop can?’