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.
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.
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.
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.
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.