Learning the Hard Way

“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” – Pema Chodron


You know, I never really understood that quote until recently. In fact, I’d never even thought about it much. But it popped in my head last night during a run.

One of the things I love about running is that it can sometimes help me work out frustrations or stresses from the day. It’s better than therapy. And yesterday brought one of these runs. I’ve realized that, for quite some time now, I’ve been faced with a disproportionate amount of frustrating or unpleasant encounters with people. So much so that I’ve actually found it confusing. What am I doing wrong? Is it me?? Why have I had to deal with multiple provocative, unfair, or unkind people so much lately? I hate this feeling of sustained anger and stress. I’m not used to it. Why is this happening now?


I stewed and steamed as I ran last night, replaying scenarios with a couple of people I felt wronged by or treated unfairly during the day.

Ugh, why do I have to deal with this? Why can’t these people just go away?


“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” 

I almost stopped in my tracks. Maybe I’m being provoked for a reason?? What is this odd chapter of conflict trying to teach me? I seldom have poor interactions with people. Why all at once? Maybe this isn’t just their problem; maybe it’s mine. My lesson to learn.

I’ve preached kindness and tolerance so much in my life. Of course, it’s easy to be kind when things are going my way. But I’ve found that kindness goes out the window when the goings get rough and the people involved are less than likable or behave poorly. In fact, I’ve failed this test miserably lately. I’ve reacted angrily and sometimes snottily. Frankly, it’s been uncomfortable, stressful, and miserable.

But perhaps there’s a lesson in the ugliness. I can’t do anything about the behavior of others, but I can do something about mine. I can try to make kindness a priority again — even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Even if this isn’t what I’m supposed to learn from all this, I’m still grateful to recognize some big deficiencies of mine and know that I can do something about it. Maybe, just maybe, some of these conflicts will go away, even if the people don’t.


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