You may have heard people talk about bad things that happened to someone else. “Poor guy, he lost his job“, “She was diagnosed with breast cancer“, or “They lost their child” are some of the examples. When this happens we may feel shocked and sad for the other person. We may even think “Thank God that did not happen to me!“.
But what if it happened to you?
Shadow boxing is an important technique used in combat sports, especially boxing. It does not involve any equipment, only yourself. Typically you do this with an imaginary opponent, or you can just do it in front of a mirror (so your enemy is you). This can even be used to “simulate” an upcoming fight against an opponent as you imagine him standing in front of you.
The concepts used in shadow boxing can also be applied at life. When you hear negative news about other people, you can use that “shadow” to train yourself against it.
Instead of just feeling bad for the other person, try to imagine the same thing happening to you. If you haven’t heard any bad news recently, you can visualize your worst fears happening instead. What if I lost my job today? Or my doctor just told me that I have cancer? What if my child died tomorrow?
While you imagine it, try to internalize the emotions you are feeling. The feelings of hurt, of betrayal, of fear. Then you assess what you can do while you are in this situation. How will I handle this? Does this affect my relationship with others? How can I get help?
This may seem morbid for some people, but this is actually a method used in Stoicism. Premeditatio malorum or negative visualization is a technique wherein we think about negative things that can happen to us. By realizing that we can lose anything we have (as it happened to others before), we will be more appreciative of our situation and enhance contentment in our lives.
Perhaps we are too used to our current situation that we already forgot how we used to live many years ago. The family that you sometimes cannot stand used to be your dream, your end goal, your objective in life. We complain about the restaurant service or late deliveries now while we used to experience hunger before. The job that you loathe going into is actually your dream job years ago.
By thinking about adversity affecting us, we battle with our own shadow. It is hard, but in doing so, we obtain benefits that can change our life.
It allows us to empathize with others. Are you feeling confused, terrified, or angry? Then most likely those are the same emotions that the other person is feeling right now. By putting yourself in their shoes you will be able to help and better support them.
It prepares your mind for the eventuality. Bad things will happen to me and you. It is a part of life and part of the human experience. As you cannot control what happens in the future, it is futile to worry about it. However, we can develop resilience and prepare ourselves by visualizing it. We cannot predict when a storm or a fire will devastate our home, but we can prepare by having an emergency supply and a fire-proof container for important documents.
Imagining bad things happening can expose areas in our lives that need more attention. Do you have enough life insurance to help your loved ones when you die? Can you get a critical illness insurance once you found out your family is at risk of stroke? Do you have any friends or family that you can turn to in times of emotional distress?
Appreciate what you have right now. Once we accept that adversity is a part of life, it can make us realize the importance of what we have at the moment. As we get used to our circumstances, our lifestyle, and our abundance, we somehow get blinded by it all and assume it will stay the same. When adversity finally knocks on our doors, we are caught unprepared and eventually devastated. By consciously being aware of potential things that can disrupt our lives, we appreciate more what we have right now.
We need to realize that God does not owe us anything, nor does the world owe us anything. We should accept both blessing and adversity with an open heart, and by doing so, we will live a richer and more meaningful life.