Facing Adversity – Mitigate or Tolerate

All of us face adverse situations in life. It can vary from a passer-by teasing us to our boss yelling at us for no reason. They are a part of our life whether we accept it or not. Often we get this question – “Why me? Why now?  Why this way?”. Often it is not possible to get an answer. Even if we get one, it will not help us much. A more important and wiser question to ask ourselves is “How now? How to go about the situation in front of us?”. We need to respond to the situation not resent the situation.

There are two ways to respond to the situation – mitigate or tolerate. When the situation is in circle of influence, we can mitigate it. If it is in circle of concern, there is no way but to tolerate it. We need to assess the situation and act accordingly, not the other way round. Based on the severity of the situation, the possibility to solve it, our ability to solve it and the consequences of solving it, we need to decide one of the two options. When the solution is severe or it is solvable or it is worth solving it, the situation needs to be mitigated. If a situation is not very severe or it is not solvable or if the solution is difficult, costly or problematic, it is better to tolerate and go on with our life. For eg – we are in a hurry for an important appointment, if an onlooker teases us, it is not worth fighting it, it’s better to tolerate. In the below situation, Yudhishtir assessed the situation rightly. Though the situation is severe, odds are not in their favor. They need to wait for the right time when it is possible to mitigate the situation. Whether we tolerate or mitigate, the problems around us don’t end. Ultimately they culminate in old age and death. If we look around, it is not possible to completely get rid of problems and be happy forever. The solution is to look above. We are in essence, spiritual beings caught up in a world of dualities. We can re-connect to our spiritual essence by the process of Bhakti yoga. Through this we not only tolerate the adversities but transcend them altogether as advocated in Bhagavad Gita 2.14.


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