“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.” – Doe Zantamata
Whenever people talk about facing challenging new circumstances, they often also talk about “finding a new normal”. The question is, what is “normal” anyway? What is a “normal” response to trauma or a challenging life situation? Additionally, why talk about a season in your life as something that would have more permanence? Even long seasons in your life – e.g. that of career of parenthood – will eventually shift or change in some way or another and what you considered “normal” will no longer be “normal”.
I started to think that this is part of the reason why I struggle to be present and live with the flow of life. It’s because in my mind I expect to create something of permanence to ease the sense of unease that comes with new territory. Whenever we face big changes in our lives – whether we spurred them ourselves or whether they were sprung on us – we try to ease our fear and anxiety about this new shift in our lives, by introducing routine or structure to normalise it as quickly as possible. This of course makes sense, because safety and security are core human needs.
My resistance is more to the idea of what constitutes normal. I want to suggest rather opting for “new now”. New now does two things. Firstly, it creates awareness around the continuous shift of life. It reminds us that everything is temporary. Even the most challenging and difficult times in our lives will also pass and shift into another “new now”. Secondly, it helps us focus on finding ways to deal with the challenge without focusing too much on what is considered normal or not. It’s not about what would be considered normal, but rather about what IS right now. What is life presenting us with that we are now called to lean into?
Take note also, that I stay away from talking about “dealing with” a challenge, because dealing with a challenge implies that it is something that needs to be fixed. What if this challenge we are facing, is not something to be fixed, but a gift from the universe? What if we are being called to learn something from this experience? The ego part of ourselves might not want this challenge or this new season we are facing, but our higher self knows that this season will enable our growth. It will help us become the person we are called to be.
The reason why we are talking about a “new” now, is because once this season has passed, you will never be the “old” you that you used to be. You will be “new” in a sense, because you will have grown parts of yourself or let go of other parts of yourself. You can never go back to who you were. You can only move forward to who you can become.
So, perhaps instead of battling with finding an answer to the question “how do I find a new normal?”, the question could rather be “how can I be in the flow of life at this time?”, or “who do I want to be at this time?”. When we embrace the seasons of our lives as part of the natural flow of life, we can also trust that the universe has our backs in a much bigger way. We can trust that we will have the answers when we need them and that whatever we lack in character right now, we are called to grow during this time of the new now.
My coach shared the story of how orange trees are grown with me and I find it serves as the best metaphor for explaining the value of changing times that we internally find ourselves resisting. The most nutritious oranges grow under the harshest conditions. In ancient China, farmers would drive nails into the bark of the orange tree. This would shock the tree, resulting in even more nutritious fruit.
The lesson here is, that sometimes the most challenging circumstances aid your growth and make you stronger. It all depends on your mindset during the new now you are facing. If you focus on all that is wrong with the situation and on how hard it is, then perhaps this time in your life will not serve you. However, if you ask what you can learn from the situation and if you are willing to lean into the pain, allow yourself to experience what you are experiencing and be willing to come back to something different, then it could be a time of tremendous personal growth for you.
I’m not saying that you will not be frustrated or that it will be easy. You might be facing the most difficult challenge you have ever had to face in your life. But you decide whether you retain only the trauma from the experience, or whether you allow for transformational growth.
How do you allow for transformational growth you might ask? By allowing what is, to be. By having the humility to admit that you don’t have all the answers. By trusting that you have access to your own inner wisdom that will provide you with answers when you need them. By focusing on the gift in this moment that isn’t exactly what you wanted, instead of focusing on how unpleasant it is and how unhappy you are. When we push against life, we end up experiencing so much more pain. When we can accept that which is, which we simply don’t have the power to change, we can grow with life and find inner strength.
Make no mistake, this will not be easy, but I believe that you are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. I believe that there is so much more to you as a person than what you might be willing to open up to right now. And I believe that you have the potential to turn this new now into a time of personal transformation and growth that will empower you to live your life with more courage and resilience than you had before you entered this season of your life. I believe that life is calling you to your greatest journey yet, the journey within, to discover what you are made of when life punches rusty nails into your trunk… You’ve got this!