LIFE-CHANGING EVENTS: Which way are you going to go?

Any event in your life can cause a shift in your perspective. These may be very personal to you because they are happening or have happened to you or someone you are close to or they may be events such as disasters that affect whole communities. The crimes or abuses you may read about, the death of someone famous or known world wide can affect you in ways you may not be aware of.

I could name several life-changing events that have impacted my life. Some of these changed me forever; some changed my opinion; some changed my religious or spiritual perspective; some forced me to go out on branches that I would not otherwise have gone; some left an impression on me that helped me to understand behaviors or choices of others or to at least to view them differently so that I had compassion and forgiveness that might not have been possible otherwise.

Some experiences I had as a child left me with fear and shame and my perspective of myself was not a healthy one. I allowed this state of consciousness to dictate who I was and that in turn encouraged all sorts of behaviors and choices that lead to more and more of this miring deeper into that quicksand of self depreciation. As I grew older, however, this uncomfortable state I lived in soon began to be so awful I sought healing. That path of healing is a story unto itself and very unique to me; however, part of the healing came from more life-changing events that continued to unfold in my life. These events I chose to ride to victory even if the ride was scary and very hard to go through. I could have buried myself in sadness, depression, and self pity which would have spiraled into a well so deep I would never get out. Something inside of me wanted to live and to live in peace, in harmony, in love, in joy, and into appreciating my human condition. Something inside of me wanted to free me from my self doubts and to build on my own individuality and capabilities with my ego safely under the direction and tutelage of Love.

One of the many, many books I have read through the years that had a great impact upon my own life was Victor Frankl. This is a quote from him: Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.(Viktor E. FranklMan’s Search for Meaning) Another of his quotes that goes nicely with this is “What is to give light must endure burning.” There are no real shortcuts. Experience is what grows us, changes us and it is up to us to use it as a millstone around our necks or to use it as a stepping stone to a better life.  

THE UGLY DUCKLING AND LOVE

Many of you are familiar with the story of the ugly duckling who looked nothing like his brothers and sisters. He didn’t act exactly like them. He didn’t fit in but was trying with all his might to act like a duck. Mother duck took care of him just like the other ducks but all the ducks thought he was so ugly and didn’t fit in. They made fun of him. After a while the ducklings grew into young adults. Out on the pond was all these beautiful ducks being ducks and they were amazed because in their midst was a beautiful, dazzling, graceful, pure white swan. The swan could stop being what he was not. He was not a duck. There is nothing wrong with a duck. They have their own beauty, abilities, and purpose but the swan also has his/her own beauty, ability and purpose. Nothing is ugly. Everything and everyone is just being what they were born to be.

That was just an illustrative story but in real life as we know it as humans, we all know that when someone doesn’t look like you or act like you or believe as you do, you think they are odd. You think they are ugly. You call them misfits. You don’t give them credit for being different. If the difference you experience is unbearable it is your choice to not hang out with them. It is also you choice to love them or not anyway. You can love people you don’t fit in with or who don’t fit in with you. It is possible. You have the power to decide to accept or not accept them for who they are. In the story, once the ducks saw the beauty in the swan they stopped rejecting him and ridiculing him. They accepted him for who and what he was in his own way.

It is not your job to change someone into you. It is not their job to change you into them. It is your honor and privilege as well as theirs to each respect the other person’s gifts, talents, and quirks. Does this mean that you allow someone to disrespect you, trample upon you? No. Just try to remove yourself from them because they are not yet grown enough to be able to give love, respect, and honor. You can still send them love and a desire for them to find their own beauty so that they can see it in others.

Love should not hurt if it is absolute and pure. Love understands. Love spreads its wings over the wounded, clasps the wounded to its breast and tenderly heals. It brings out the “swan” in all creation.

FINDING LOVE IN YOUR FEAR

Have you ever found yourself loving something or someone so much you killed the joy you would have had had you not held on so tightly? Have you ever been so scared or afraid of something or someone that you found yourself backed into a corner that left few if no options open and then wondered why you felt like the life was sucked out of you? Have you ever wondered why other people seem to live a life of fullness that seems so unreachable to you? I think if we are honest we all have experienced these things and may still be experiencing them.

True love has an ability above the natural, human sense of our understanding and it comes from an experience you have within yourself. Does it matter what method got you there? No. Is there more ways than one to awaken to this? Yes. Once you start with that Love, then you can begin to see how it minimizes or vanishes negative reactions, thoughts, and beliefs. (That is material for another chapter all by itself.) When your reactions, thoughts and beliefs are under the care and leadership of that Love, the blocks and millstones around your neck that make life seem like a very unpleasant experience day after day after day, will start changing for the better. You see things differently, maybe not at first, but it comes at its own pace with each individual. Soon you can switch you viewpoint before you react or pass judgments, or become despondent or upset which can lead to more damage. So, it’s like damage control before it happens.

OUR FEARS: We fear losing a person we love through accidents, deaths, disease, or because they separated from us for some reason – through disagreements, misunderstandings, distance in miles, or because one grew and the other person did not. We fear losing control of our emotions, other people’s emotions, or of losing control over the things that are beyond our ability to do anything about. We fear we will “fail” in our jobs, in our relationships, and we fear we may make the “wrong” decisions. We fear about our physical presentation, that we may not be handsome or pretty enough, tall enough, smart enough or the right weight according to standards that may or may not be our own. We fear we may lack in enough goods, or necessities or we may fear not keeping up with what we think we should have because everyone else has these. We may fear becoming old or sick and death is something we know will come but are never ready for it seems.

REACTIONS TO FEAR: With fear comes comes things like emotional pain, sadness, being overwhelmed, nervousness, anxiety, anger and depression. Physical reactions are pain, illness, rashes, and other disabilities. Then comes anything we can grab onto that we think will make all that go away. We push the emotions down, we run away from facing what we need to face and we fail to take appropriate actions. Some of us turn to drugs, to alcohol, to smoking, to getting into new and often worse relationships, we try to live vicariously through our children and cause them problems, we eat too much, we over spend or gamble, we drive recklessly or we pick up some other dangerous, self-destructive behavior or habit or increase the ones we already have including hoarding in order to do anything but face and work through the pain.

THE APPLICATION OF THE FIX: Sometimes one of the easiest fixes is to remove yourself from a relationship that is causing pain for one or both parties (and it will be both parties in the end) if couples therapy, other therapy, negotiations, counseling, and any other attempts to make peace, make love and not war, and to open up honest and loving dialog does not work. Sometimes you need healing and this can be done through many tools: therapy, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), breath work, reading all the self-help books on your particular subject, workshops that are geared to healing, treating yourself to massage, learning meditation, yoga, ti chi, and starting or expanding spiritual practices are just some examples. When the student is ready the teacher/method/book/person/ tool that is needed will appear. In my earlier days of healing, one of the things I did was to enter college to learn psychology and my desire was to become a therapist, a healer to others but I also knew that I needed to heal myself and to continue that road to healing if I were to ever hope be a help to anyone else. Some of the books that I became aware of and picked up along the way was a few different books about adult children of alcoholics and this was just one area I learned about that started me on my way to understanding myself a whole lot better so that I might be more able to heal. Why I felt as I felt or reacted the way I did to certain things became ah-ha moments for me. I did a paper on the subject and eventually started an Adult Children of Alcoholics group in the community in which I was doing my practicum. Each person has to research what tools might be available to them and make use of them. We do the work but sometimes we need the help of professionals or those in the business of helping or teaching us about some of the modalities that will benefit us. We now have a new branch of helpers called life coaches who incorporate different methods of help depending upon their field of education, their experiences, and where they learned what they use in their practice.

In any case, the beginning of having a better life, of healing of things you don’t even know that ail you, is to know yourself, to face what is bothering you, to pay attention to what is going on in your head, and to have a strong desire to make your life the beautiful experience you want it to be, that you know somehow it should be, and one which the Creator intended it to be.  Your desire for this has to be bigger than your fear or doubts that keep you where you are.

As you progress, you will find that Love will begin to bring this fullness into your life. You will find that love inside of you that is Divine, that really is all that is, will change how you see yourself, others, circumstances and events. It will not guarantee freedom from anything you fear but rather will give you power over these things and will see you through the rough patches of life. The bumps and pits will no longer be impediments or impossible to handle, It will put the straight in your crooked, the light in your dark and peace in your turmoil. You will have found Love in the midst of Fear.