Too often we say to ourselves or others, “how could this happen to me/to us/to our company?” We believe we are powerless over forces and circumstances that seem to swirl about us as if in some conspiratorial way. In this powerlessness, we cast ourselves as victims in our own drama, the villain always being someone or something else. As people, we fall into these patterns because it is easier to project our pain, mistakes and short comings, than to own them ourselves. We project onto others what we would rather not look at within ourselves. We move frenetically through our lives without slowing down long enough to reflect, process, and discern, not only what is going on around us, but in our own thought patterns as well. We thoughtlessly react, instead of thoughtfully acting.
When life throws us for a loop…or two…or three; when unforeseen events come crashing into our lives, disrupting our sense of equilibrium or illusions of control, it is natural and human to want to personalize the event(s). Perhaps we were violated in some way or a trust was broken; perhaps illness or death invaded, casting a dark shadow over our life or those others we love; perhaps we lost our job – the result of economic and political forces beyond our control.
Still, anticipated or not, how we choose to interpret and respond to life’s losses and challenges is within our control, and our thoughts, for better or worse, profoundly shape how we move forward beyond these circumstances into the future. Put a positive spin on events, and your more likely to create a psychological opening for moving forward; respond with a heart of gratitude or compassion, and your more likely to develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty in each person and learnings in each situation; respond with integrity and transparency, and you’re more likely to build trust with others; respond with humility, and others are more likely to work with and/or support you in your endeavors.
How do you respond to the invariable struggles of life? Do you seek to find meaning, answers, and openings for moving forward, or do you find yourself stuck in a cycle of blame – whether of self or another? When life’s challenges comes crashing into your world; when challenges result in personal grief or hardship, how do you choose to move through them? Do you seek opportunities for growth and learning, do you tend to bury or mask your pain, or do you choose the path of martyrdom? What role does forgiveness, humility, and gratitude play in moving forward?