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When Things Fall Apart

Heart Advice For Difficult Times

By Pema Chödrön
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  • Contains 7 key ideas
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When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

When Things Fall Apart (1997) is a guide to dealing with the biggest challenges life throws at you. These blinks explore a range of concepts and strategies, from meditation to self-compassion to breathing techniques, that’ll help you develop resilience in the face of adversity and a deeper appreciation for living in the moment.

Key idea 1 of 7

Embracing your fears is your ticket to greater self-knowledge.

Most of us don’t enjoy being scared, which is only natural. But at certain stages in our lives, fear is something we should welcome.

By getting to know our fears rather than avoiding everything that frightens us, we can gain entirely new perspectives on our personality, relationships and past. Often, fear is our first reaction as we get closer to the truth behind a problem we’re facing.

But, if you want answers, you need to understand your fear on a deeper level by taking time to reflect on it. Normally, when things fall apart in our lives, be it our health or our marriage, we tend to focus all our energy on resolving the situation, without spending enough time learning about the situation itself.

The first thing we need to do to change this is to realize that our lives are in constant flux; things fall into place, fall apart and come together again in unexpected ways. To appreciate this process and learn from it, you have to create space in your life to let things happen – you might find that positive solutions emerge from the most surprising places.

Consider the story of a family in tough times, held together by one son who financially supported his parents and siblings through his work. When he fell off a horse and was severely injured, the family was desperately afraid for their future – it felt like the end of the world for them.

But just two weeks later, the army came into their village to collect all able-bodied men to fight in a war. Due to his injuries, the son was allowed to stay home. He was subsequently able to find work again, and continued to care for his family. In the end, all the family’s worries were needless, as the shifting nature of life had brought them an entirely new solution.

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