Not just because that title would be too long, but because I have a strong belief – which is lesson 1 – that EVERYTHING that happens to us (or that we make happen) in life, is a LESSON and an opportunity for GROWTH and WISDOM.
Ok. Another lesson I have learned is we are all (often) a little short of time, so I will get straight into the lessons, which are less often about rocket science and more often just great reminders.
LESSON 1: Get the magnifying glass out if you need to
I have created a very strong series of beliefs which go like this:
- Life is for me, and not against me.
- Life wants me to succeed.
- Life wants me to grow.
- I only grow through resistance.
- Resistance = challenges or obstacles (that may include pain, fear, upset, grief, etc.).
- There is a LESSON and GROWTH opportunity in EVERYTHING that happens to me. However painful or uncomfortable the experience is.
My job is to find the lesson (with a magnifying glass or even microscope if I have to), so that I can use it for building my wisdom, and consequently grow into a more complete and evolved human being.
As Maslow said, ‘We can either step forward into growth or backward into safety’. Whether I grow or not is not circumstantial it is MY CHOICE. Think Martin Luther King Jnr, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and any other person in your life, who has turned adversity into something amazing.
LESSON 2: It’s ok to feel crappy, it is not cool to hang out there too long
In the bigger scheme of things I have not had as much adversity as others. I have crashed cars, lost over $100,000 in the GFC, needed a knee reconstruction, had my heart broken, been humiliated, failed miserably, been broke, been rejected, been fired (I just remembered that one – ouch!), and probably a whole bunch of other stuff if I wanted to dig deeper. Mmmm…Pass. But I still know a lot more people who have had it 100 times worse than me.
So that gives me PERSPECTIVE. When I want to curl up in a ball and say ‘poor me’ I remind myself of all the good I have and shift things around.
I am also ok with feeling anger, rage, hate, jealousy, sadness, grief, bitterness, worry, fear, etc. BUT I like to feel those emotions for the shortest periods of time. Because for me they don’t feel so good ;-). So it’s totally ok to feel them, and depending on the event, it might be a-ok to feel them longer, but the aim is to move on from them as soon as is practicable. Good theory, but HOW? I hear you ask (or shout ;-)).
Here is my how:
- Feel the feelings.
- Observe the feelings.
- ACCEPT that you are feeling the way that you are and regardless of whatever it is, you still ACCEPT & APPROVE of yourself. Because you feel the way you do, does not diminish who you are and can be. You remain worthy of love. (Sorry for the ‘love’ word guys ;-))
- As quickly as is possible get out the magnifying glass and use it as you ask: “What can I learn from this? How can I grow as a result of this learning? How can I grow through this experience?”
- If you are stuck (and even if you aren’t) ask for help from the right person or persons.
- Accept that CHANGE may need to happen (after all: grow IS change).
- And as soon as possible CHOOSE to direct your attention at where you do want to go, what you do want to feel, and what you do want to experience.
Once I understand the lessons, my aim is to shake off the feelings as soon as I can. From the brain’s perspective, it just wants to learn so it can protect you. Once it has the lesson, it can let go.
So I shake off those feelings by:
- Moving my body.
- Connecting with people I love and that love me. (there I go again guys)
- Having a session with a good (practical) therapist.
- Using tools like Tapping or some NLP stuff.
- Spending time in nature.
- Helping others. Actually this is really effective for me.
- Actively focus on 5-10 things I am grateful for. This changes your biology and primes you to notice what is good and working in your life.
So it is ok to feel crappy. It is not ok to stay there too long without doing something about it or getting the right help to work through it.
LESSON 3: An 80/20 thing
I know you know this already, but boy is it a great reminder!!
Spend 20% on the problem and 80% on the SOLUTION
Look; a couple of weeks ago I had some challenging experiences with a couple of people that made for some very uncomfortable experiences, that lasted for days. There was definitely a bunch of discomfort, pain, doubt, anger, and frustration. I could have wallowed in it for weeks. But the reality is I much prefer to feel happy than crappy. 😉
So I applied Lesson 1 & 2 from above and then I turned my ample brain power onto: “So what is the best solution moving forward?”
I got clear of the lessons. Which are POTENTIAL for growth. But it is only by putting the lessons into ACTION that actually create the growth.
My Final Words
We will always have challenges in our life if we want a meaningful existence. If we want to have a life that is not just ‘blah’, then we will bump into challenges. Whether it is people or circumstances or both. It is inevitable. So accept the inevitability, BUT have the strategies and resources in place (like the ones above) to best weather the storm.
So here is to you and me, learning and growing!!