Within merely a few days I had hit adversity on a number of counts. The last on the list was health from two months of lost sleep stressing over my ‘fall’ when the doctor presented two options, neither of which looked good. That moment was literally my wake up. But here’s the interesting thing to me — If I were to ask, do I regret going through the most difficult period of my life, my answer is ‘No’. I don’t regret it. I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for that difficult thing, whatever it is, but I can now be truly and deeply grateful. Though I do wish I knew then what I know now. I wish someone could have just appeared at that time, taken me by the hand and told me there are exact steps I needed to take. So, if I can impart a few perspectives to help through adversity…
Step 1: Exit the thinking vortex
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” -Author Unknown
Adversity puts you in a place of asking, ‘what just happened?’ ‘Why did it happen?’ And… ‘how?!’ You can answer the ‘what’ pretty well. You can describe it in detail from your vantage point. The ‘why’ gets trickier because the pieces are probably not all there and the picture changes the more you think about it, remember, or pick up on ‘clues’, ‘evidence’, etc. The ‘how’ — is much the same, so trust me, don’t go there. If you’re like most people who are in the face of adversity and asking these questions, your brain will explode if you don’t stop.
Decide — oh, and this is quite the mental decision — to step out of the thinking, thinking pattern. You can do it. Just.decide. And when you do that, you take yourself out of the thinking vortex that disempowers you. That is key to moving forward. See where you are right now as an orchestration between your soul and the Universe. Your soul and the Universe know that where you are is where you need to be in order to become who you are designed to be. They are working for you, not against you. Your brain is limited, so, decide to step out of the thinking vortex.
Step 2: Stay with it a little bit and heal
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” -M. Kathleen Casey
Step out of the thinking vortex, but don’t rush to get out of the healing. We hate pain! But, allow yourself to still feel the pain. Soften that hate. See if you can go one step further, — and appreciate pain. See pain as your wise friend who wants the best for you. Through the pain is your healing. Burying it under fake smiles and fake positivity is setting yourself up for a bigger event down the road.
And, I mean a little bit. Healing is a tool to move out of pain, and not down that slippery slope to suffering. When it becomes a crutch and excuse for not moving onward and upward, you, for one, don’t heal (meaning you relive pain over and over to the detriment of your mental, emotional and physical health; meaning you don’ allow happiness in), and for two, don’t get to live the life you are meant to.
Have this mental conversation — face pain. Talk to pain. Ask it what it wants you to heal, what it wants you to pay attention to, and where it wants you to pour your love and forgiveness. Listen to what comes up! Meditate. Spend 15 minutes every morning in calm, focusing on your breathing. Visualize opening your heart.
Step 3: Forgive
“Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.” -William Arthur Ward
From someone who’s been there to someone who is there, forgiveness is the one big step you will want to take when facing adversity — and there is someone or something you’re blaming as part of the mix. Forgiveness is huge.
HeartMath Institute (HMI) founder and global authority on reducing stress, building resilience and optimizing personal effectiveness, Doc Childre, says, “Forgiving and releasing old hurts from your system is like taking a mental and emotional bath.” He also explains, “To forgive, you need to dislodge your judgments, even before you fully understand why things happened.”
Forgiveness heals you! It’s not about the person you’re forgiving. It’s releasing the poison, hurt, pain, and anger within your own physical body (and heart!) that has real consequences to it (both!). It’s literally bathing yourself clear of toxins. You don’t need to understand why or how things happened. You.don’t! Hear me on this — in the future it’s not going matter and what’s even more is there will come a time when, not the apparent ‘why’, but the purpose for why this happened will become clear.
Breathe, accept what is — because, hey! It is already! Give yourself the love your self needs by forgiving. Unless it will matter at age 85, just forgive as soon as you can. Oh, and … um, you have to really mean it for it to work.
Step 4: Pour yourself lots of love
“Be open to the goodness of life — even in the midst of apparent adversity.”
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie
When I hit adversity, I was forced to face up to the fact that I wasn’t taking time out and wasn’t doing what I loved. Nor was I living anything close to the life I grew up knowing. Well, here I was after my ‘fall’ at home where I grew up with all the opportunities to do what I absolutely love.
Give yourself lots of love and give yourself permission to live life. You deserve to be living abundantly! It’s nothing you need to earn or wait some time to experience. You are simply worthy of kindness, love, joy, and peace, now. To be in these states, because these really are states, give yourself those opportunities that will enable you to shift into them.
What did you love doing as a kid? Do them! Yes, in the midst of adversity! You cannot change what happened. But you can change your state of being. What helps you once you exit the thinking vortex to stay out? For me, it’s hands down skiing, fast down the mountain face, jumping through the air, in deep snow dodging trees. I’m in my zone. My heart is physically pumping joy. But pouring love is a disciplined practice that you bring into your life to become habit. Write a list of how you can pour yourself some love and do one or more of the things each and every day. The universe will only treat you as good as you treat yourself. Create the opportunities for the universe to help you to move onward and upward, and you will be.
Step 5: Change course
“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” –Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
I really believe that when we hit adversity and wake up, we are meant to rise to another level, kind of like being in a video game. You are so not meant to just keep going in the face of adversity. You’re meant for more! You’ve been operating at one level for too long. For me, I wasn’t growing, learning, and developing — much, regardless of what it may have seemed on the outside. I was literally declining umpteen opportunities to give deeper value and playing super tiny in the areas I was meant to shine while climbing what showed as the ladder against the wrong wall.
No need to get all serious because I think overall you’re life gets shaken partly for you to see that life has way more joy to embrace than you maybe have been. But the shake up is probably requiring of you to reevaluate your life! Are you living on purpose? OR have you been moving farther and farther away? My belief is that your soul has a life shattering scream when you ignore it and does what it needs to to get you to finally listen.
The irony is that when you see adversity as that wake up to be on purpose, and start listening to your soul’s voice, the result is that you take yourself less seriously, you take other people’s actions who live for ‘small’ goals way less seriously, and you can’t but get serious about where your life is going. Then your life actually becomes so much more joyous. Your purpose is in your compassion, your joy and what gives you meaning.
Start to do more of whatever so that when you go to bed at night you know that in some tiny way you did what can make the world a better place. And don’t worry if these things seem disconnected from your “career” or “training” or whatever you’ve identified with. Keep doing more of what feeds your soul and feels on purpose for you.
Be Happy and Healthy: Forgive, 2012, https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/heartmath-tools-techniques/be-healthy-and-happy-forgive/#more-5290
Originally published at medium.com