I googled this quote/thought/adage – turns out these words have been around since 1200AD, with credit given to the Persians for coining the phrase. I’m sure the concept has been around much longer, however – perhaps no one had put it quite so succinctly.
“This too, shall pass”: the message is that nothing we experience lasts forever. Typically, people in my circle use it to get themselves through a challenging time, and that is completely appropriate. When in stress, trouble or difficulty, reminding oneself that the experience will be over (maybe not as quickly as we’d like it to be), can help make dealing with it more manageable.
Several people close to me are dealing with very hard times right now. This is nothing unusual or remarkable, in and of itself. Anxiety, depression, overwhelm, general stress, health issues, relationship challenges: these are common threads in all of our lives, and the lives of those we love. Whether our own challenges mirror those or not, it is a trait of common humanity that makes us able to reflect on what we’ve been through when observing others’ tough times, helping us show up for them, empathetically, relating and supporting without judgment.
If you are experiencing struggle, please know that there is nothing wrong with you, you don’t need fixing – in fact, you’re remarkably normal. And as you cope, look for supports, ask for help, acknowledge that we are not meant to do it all on our own – please seek those who will lift you up and help.
On the other hand, “this too, shall pass” also applies to the good stuff. Things going well? Happy with your job, relationships, home situation, haircut? Wonderful. Love it, enjoy it, and know that it, too, won’t last forever. When we are mindfully aware of the good around us and take a moment to offer gratitude for it, we squeeze every drop of the good stuff out of the experience before it shifts.
Brene Brown advises against “rehearsing tragedy” – a go-to for many people when they feel overwhelmed with joy. When experiencing joy, truly delighting in a relationship or experience, it is tempting to ponder what will happen when that ends, when that person is no longer part of our lives, even imaging something tragic happening to bring ourselves back down to earth. But instead of allowing our joy to be diffused by the “what ifs”, we can do our best to allow the vulnerability of diving deep into the joy, experiencing it fully.
Sometimes the passing of a challenging experience or stage of life feels too fast; looking back at my daughters’ toddler years, remembering how I wished away that stage on a regular basis, looking ahead to when they could do more, say more, be more independent… with the wisdom of age, I now realize I wish that time had passed much more slowly.
Not that I could control the passing of time, of course, but for me, it’s come down to mindful living. As I age, as my daughters grow up, I am increasingly able to experience the moments for their own benefit: no longer wishing for the stage to pass, but rather noting feelings, happenings, conversations as they happen, being well aware that these too, shall pass all too quickly.
My current practice of offering gratitude in the moment has brought me out of the fear of the good stuff evaporating and the bad stuff staying around forever, and into a mindful perspective of acknowledging that this too, shall pass.
*Interested in developing a mindfulness or meditation practices that encourages living in the moment, accepting/experiencing what is happening in your life instead of wishing it away, and deeply feeling your joy? I would love to hear from you and support you on your path (see Contact page).
A little add-on about my own current experiences: the past two years have been a time of transition for me and my immediate family. We have lived through a move (to another city), a period of living apart from one another, the welcome challenges that came with reuniting. We have met new people and said good-bye to beloved friends, started new jobs and schools, felt lonely and felt supported. I shifted professional focus and put aside blogging for longer than I wanted to. Each experience has taught us and shaped us, and each one, for better or worse, has also passed.
Life Coach, Yogi & lover of Meditation, mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, cookie baker, seeker of truth & laugher, volunteer. Passionate about women's stories and the women who share them.