The first thing to understand is that nothing is difficult. Nothing is good, and nothing is bad. The ‘thing’ itself is neutral. The difficulty comes from our automatic, learned, or habitual reaction. The proof of this is that what’s difficult for you may not be difficult for me.

So when a ‘difficulty’ arises, it helps to understand what button it has pushed. Perhaps it’s seen as a kind of threat.  Or we quickly make a judgement based on our beliefs. Our reaction to most events can be broken into just two categories: good or bad. With the ‘bad’ reaction, we may experience a flood of stress hormones.

To address this, we must learn to catch the first moment of an emotional reaction. We must learn to give ourselves a half second to challenge our habitual reaction and allow the thinking brain to rationalise the situation and our compassion to guide us.

This takes practice. The starting point is body sensation  – we get the first signal that a ‘difficulty’ has arisen as a physical sensation. So learn what yours is. As soon as you feel it, create a half second pause, and maybe use a phrase that helps you question your reaction such as “maybe so, maybe not”.