More things have “gone wrong” in my life than I care to count. I have come to view 5 year plans with a sense of detachment.  I now see a plan as “my best guess in this moment,” knowing all too well that the next moment may redirect the trajectory of my path.

Things “gone wrong” have, in fact, been my greatest teachers. Some of these teachings have come gracefully and others have met my full resistance. But Truth is Truth, and even when we deny it, it is present and waiting when we are ready to acknowledge it.

Here are 4 things I’ve learned from all the times my life has “gone wrong” –

1. Control is an illusion. We have never been in control of Life.

I must be reminded of this often. In fact, just the other the day my friend reminded me that – at best – we control the mind (our reaction to Life). Our personal power lies in our ability to regulate our reactions.

2. To hold tightly to Hope is to deny Universal Wisdom that governs the unfolding of Life.

One thing that has helped me to find belief in Universal Wisdom is the observation that I have always benefited from the breakdown. Each and every time I thought things would never be good again, in time they turned out to be better.

Having observed this (and based on the writings of Byron Katie), I have learned to ask – how is the FOR me, rather than TO me?

We take Life’s test and learn the lesson, accepting that one day – looking back – we will discover how deeply we benefited from our messiest and most challenging moments.

facts3. There are Facts and Stories about Facts. It is immeasurably valuable to distinguish between them.

Here’s an example –

Fact – I am an unmarried mother.

Story – I am a single mother, alone in my experience of parenting.

When we separate Facts from Stories about Facts, it becomes clear that any suffering we experience originates in the Story about the Fact – a story that we authored. [Point – we create our suffering by making things up about Facts. This may be a good time to reread the first lesson: our mind is the only thing we can control. May as well put that skill to good use and make up more uplifting stories.]

Here’s an example:

Fact – I am an unmarried mother.

[More uplifting] Story – I am supported by an extensive network of partnership, friends, and family who want the best for me and my son. I am in no way alone in my experience of parenting.

4. Don’t go numb. Feel. Breathe. Stay present.

I know – it’s so tempting to go completely numb when faced with hardship by eating (what I see most often in my patients and clients), drinking, shopping, having sex, or any number of the many options at our finger tips designed to distract us from feeling.

The only problem is that we cannot cultivate our resilience, find our true strength, and discover our values and purpose when we’re distracted in this way. Though it can be difficult and requires commitment, I believe your best bet is to stay as present as possible to all the emotions and sensations that arise. Breathe into them. Cry. Journal. Draw. Do something, if necessary, but don’t go numb.

Our life experience is ripe with surprise and challenge. Birth, Death, Comings & Goings, Injuries, Illness, Disabilities, so many more.

But what for if not to help reveal our strength, our resilience, or a deeper layer of personal truth?

Planning life is a way of focusing on superficial details – this kind of car, that kind of job, this partner, that city, this number of kids, while making that much money and wearing X jean size. Planning serves only the ego. When plans fall apart, we have an opportunity to shift our focus from details to Values.

Focusing on values nourishes the soul by redirecting importance from product to process. It calls us to get to know ourselves, and it serves as an invitation to cultivate our deepest fulfillment.

How have you benefited from the breakdown?

Share the lessons you’ve learned from your plan falling apart.

Dr. Dawn Dalili

Dr. Dalili is a Naturopathic Physician practicing in Missoula, MT. Her work focuses on helping her patients achieve a healthy weight, more energy, improved digestion, and hormonal balance. She blends tools acquired through her medical study, training in Eating Psychology and Transformational Coaching, 15 years of teaching yoga, and many years as a competitive athlete to offer her patients an approach that is unique and effective.

3 thoughts on “4 Lessons Learned from Life “gone wrong”

  1. This was so good and reflective of the very lessons I am learning daily. Its tough to trade control in for faith, but it brings us back to our natural state of peace. I love the re-frames. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I had lived in the same house for 17 years, and while I had not planned on staying in that home for that long when I moved in, I was pretty much resigned to living out the rest of my life there, feeling unfulfilled in my choice of neighborhoods, too much enmeshment in my children’s lives and being afraid to pretty much make any move, oh yeah, AND surrounded by about 17 years worth of stuff — clutter! Very stuck. Then, at the end of August this year, I started thinking about moving OUT of town, about 30 miles away from my employment, and also starting worrying about all the what if’s that could happen if I did move out of my house. Long story short, I decided to forget about the fears I had (well, decided not to worry about them….I could still think about them, but not let them control my actions) and today, about 9 weeks later, I feel SOOO happy to have moved, proud of myself for not being afraid, and feel (for the most part) I will just take on any reality that comes up now that I committed to the move, and love it out here. Do I still wake up in the night and think about things? Yes, but it is a different kind of thing now, because instead of stressing over my thoughts, now when I wake up, I jus say a lil’ prayer of thanks, for something, for what is heavy on my mind, for whatever it is keeping me awake OR for the sheets I am sleeping in that are so comfortable, or for the more peaceful life I have now, and go back to sleep. Letting go of everything I have thought I am in control of definitely helps me sleep better every night. I read a short poem last night, and true it is (for me….) “If the only prayer you say in you life is thank you, that would suffice. [Meister Eckhart, German theologian, d. 1328]

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