There are moments in life which remain etched in my brain forever.
The dreaded moment I received an early morning text from the bank to notify me there wasn’t enough money to cover the rent a number of years ago.
As I write this, I am still plagued by the anxiety that accompanied the moment. It’s incredible how events in the past haunt us even when the situation no longer exists, but any association with it can bring the feelings back in a millisecond.
You might have experienced your own version of this.
When we fail at what we set out to do, there is so much energy being spent on not forgiving ourselves, giving ourselves a hard time; like the headmaster in school who reminded you each day of the equations you didn’t manage to memorise.
We come down hard on ourselves, mentally flagellating daily and punishing ourselves, this creates angry thoughts which weigh a ton, and then we wonder why depression strikes. Depression is anger turned inwards.
Life can be messy, yet we need to always find the opportunities it presents for growth.
Always making sure that you ask better questions can change the trajectory of your life.
Instead of ‘Why is this happening to me?’
Ask a simple question;
‘What do I need to learn from what’s occurring?’
Letting this question hover around will open you up to purpose and meaning. Rather than making you feel frazzled and immersing yourself in hopelessness, it will show you the past choices which created this situation, and what your next steps could be.
It will take you away from the victim story and into taking ownership.
I remember at the time feeling a burst of gratitude; in asking myself that question, it was evident that the answer was going to reawaken deeper issues that needed dealing with beyond the practicalities of increasing overdraft facilities and dipping into savings to cover the necessary.
I had been running my business as a single mother revelling in my passion by helping others, coaching, speaking at events and writing. Mostly these were done pro bono, I was trying to save the world, and compromising myself and my family hugely as a result.
Best selling author and spiritual junkie Gabrielle Bernstein once claimed in one of her talks that her great work ‘needed to be supported’ and I remember this sentence playing out again and again in my head. It rang so true at the time.
Passion (despite what the influencers say) does not always pay the bills.
I had been spending copious amounts of money on mentors, online courses and workshops. I was just about to hire a public relations agency to create more media and tv appearances. I had been throwing money away as if it was going out of fashion, and what I realised was that each time I paid for another ‘expert’ I was giving my power away.
So I decided to stop hiring and start firing all the external expertise and stepped into my own power.
I took a metaphorical shovel and began to dig deep within myself, I saw clearly that not only would I grow immeasurably through this, but it would be an incredible gift I could hand to my coaching clients when they hit a similar obstacle. As I dug deep, this led to me being incredibly resourceful, yet it was a scary time.
I got down on my knees so many times to plead god to help me find my way through the situation; since I had rebuilt and lost a number of times before, he couldn’t let me down now.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov stated a beautiful quote that really resonated with me; I remember my brother had often recited it to me:
in my narrowness you have broadened me.
I meditated on that phrase throughout this time; I couldn’t afford (literally) to dip into a low state of mind, to get depressed or down on myself. I chose to give gratitude each morning, put loud music on and dance, feeling abundant internally, grateful for the growth I was experiencing within.
There was also a great lesson in vulnerability, reaching out to those I love for guidance and support. I’m generally allergic to showing my vulnerable side to friends and family, but I needed them to understand that I’m not perfect; and this was incredibly freeing.
I took a long hard (and uncomfortable) look at my professional life; I was hanging onto being self-employed for as long as I had remembered, but I secretly missed the structure, routine, promotions, a monthly salary, a pension plan. I was no spring chicken either, but a middle-aged woman. Yet I was hanging onto this dream of ‘making a difference’ for dear life.
Sometimes the wisest thing to do is to let something go. We often hang on so tight that we forget why we held on in the first place.
Like the metaphorical oxygen mask, you’re asked to wear on the plane, before placing it on your child. Putting my oxygen mask on first, I focused on self-caring. Not trying to save the world, but saving myself first.
Then I did the unthinkable.
I decided to combine my business coaching, with working part-time in (dare I say it) employment. A word that in my industry smelt like failure. A world I swore I would never return to.
Yet the world I was keeping myself away from, has been the most amazing thing I stepped in to; working in employment part time not only has given me structure, security and a salary, but it has opened me up to new professional opportunities, friendships and experiences. Alongside this, I can still privately coach clients, speak at events and write books.
I now have the best of both worlds. The security of employment and the freedom to create.
When we’ve taken a wrong turn, it can feel as if we’re walking through a narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid. To lift your head up and see what needs to be done. Knowing that within, we have a boundless source of resilience and are eternally resourceful, and this becomes reawakened when difficulties strike. If we keep asking the question ‘What can I learn from what’s occurring’ we will tap into our highest self and more importantly, grow.
This helps us find the guidance within, which is like finding the rainbow on the other side of the storm.
If this article resonated with you, you can read more chapters like these in my latest book Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living’ available now on Amazon.
If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, send an e-mail to [email protected]