Coping With Crisis

Topics: English-language films, The good life, Life Pages: 2 (886 words) Published: December 3, 2014
Ann Landers

If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and, when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, "I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me." Then repeat yourself the most comforting of all words, "This too shall pass."

To forgive oneself in the face of a devastating experience is perhaps the most difficult of life's challenges. Most of us find it much easier to forgive others. I've received letters brimming the self-recrimination letters that prove no punishment is so painful as the self-inflicted kind.

It was miy high-school English teacher who taught me the futility of rehashing the past. One day, as the students filed into her classroom, we noticed on her desk a quart bottle of milk standing in a heavy stone crock.

"This morning," she announced, "I'm going to teach you a lesson that has nothing to do with English, but it has a lot to do with life." She picked up the bottle of milk and crashed it against the inside of the stone crock. "The lesson is," she said, "don't cry over spilled milk."

Then she invited us to look at the wreckage.

"I want all of you to remember this," she said. "Would any of you attempt to restore the bottle to its original form? Does it do any good to wish the bottle had not been broken? Look at this mess! You can moan about it forever, but it won't put the bottle back together again. Remember this broken bottle of milk when something happens in your life that nothing can undo."

I've reminded myself of that broken bottle of milk in the stone crock time and again. It has helped me remain steady and calm, as well as physically sound. Our bodies take a beating when we put ourselves through an emotional wringer. To try to undo what has been done or agonize about opportunities missed is not only foolish, it's futile.

In many instances, we can't...
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