Recently I was teaching a teenaged singing student who came…
The inspiration for today’s post comes from my muddled past. I’ve referred to these experiences in previous posts, and will do so in more detail in future. However, more than sharing the gory details, I want to tell you about one of my biggest life lessons, and it is this… You are NOT your circumstance, but you are defined by your reaction to circumstance.
I know, it sounds simple, and you’ve probably heard something similar a million times before, but in a world where becoming a victim is increasingly the reaction of choice, we need to keep reminding ourselves. There is no glamour in allowing your identity to be that of ‘victim’, despite what society might tell you. There is no lesson to be learned in insisting on remaining stuck in a detrimental mindset.
You may not be able to change your circumstance, but you can damn well change yourself.
I have to be honest, today I’m not just writing this article solely for my readers, I’m writing it because it’s a lesson I need to revisit, and maybe you will join me and apply some of this mind-management stuff to your life also.
Here’s my recent story and how I’m planning to approach things…
This week, after a yearlong saga of trying to figure out some health issues, my specialist finally detected something that might be of note. I’ve tested positive for an autoimmune disorder of some sort, which may or may not go away with treatment. I already know I can’t change this, but I can choose my reaction. At my appointment when I found out, I didn’t cry, I smiled (yeah I know, weird, right?), but at that moment my brain switched to focusing on the positives.
I chose to hear the part where I didn’t have cancer, I wasn’t going to die anytime soon, and there was at least a treatment to try out. For me, looking back, my reaction was a huge achievement. For once I wasn’t focusing on what was wrong, I wanted to see what was going right and what work I could do going forward.
The unfortunate side of my condition is that I get tired all of the time, and my mental edge isn’t there on most days. But the fact that you are reading this is indicative of the fact that I refuse to use circumstance as an excuse to stop living. Writing is a struggle, but I love writing. Hell, even just staying awake is a struggle, but I took a nap and now I’m getting this done.
I have made a decision, and I want anyone else reading this, who might be dealing with their own issues to make it too. My decision sounds simple, but it’s not easy – my decision is that I’m not stopping. I’ve decided this because I know my reaction matters most out of everything that’s happening, and my reaction is something I can control. I will not let this detail in my life become who I am. It is something that has happened to me, but it is not ME.
This is not to say one should not be human. It’s ok to get down, to complain, to give up for a moment or two. But remember, circumstances can only influence how you think and what you believe; circumstances do not control your thoughts and beliefs. I’ll say it again – your reaction matters, and you choose how you react. Step away from the autopilot button and choose an attitude that is useful, helpful and that you can be proud of… even if it seems the walls are crashing down around you.
There are times in life when there’s not much to be positive about, I get it, I’ve been there. But I’ve learnt there is always one positive to every situation, and one thing you can do no matter how hard things get. Wherever life takes you, you will always have the power to create and choose the kind of experience you get to have. It might not be in a physical sense, you might not have the things you want; but in most cases you’ll have your mind, and more importantly, your will.
“The definition of insanity is thinking that you need something you don’t have. The mere fact that you exist right now without that which you think you need is proof that you don’t need it.” – Byron Katie.
It’s important is recognize that in our most difficult times, we often want to choose the course least helpful. Even if we say we want things to improve, on another level, a part of us wants to be miserable. It sounds ironic, but being miserable, for some people, is an easier path than fighting their way to the next level of self actualisation.
But bad times are where we need to be the most conscious. We need to be present, pushing through, and consistently kicking our own butts until we are clear of what is holding us back.
Finding your bliss in life starts with you, and the ability to assess what can and can’t be changed. List what isn’t working in your life, change the things that can be changed, and shift your attitude on the things that can’t. Of the things that cannot be changed, choose to learn what you can from the situation. There is always a lesson. This is what it is to be human, and to have a human experience. This is what it means to commit to fully owning your experience in life.
Don’t get sucked into the lie that if you could just have that job, house, whatever; you will find peace. If you could just change some situation, or be rid of some issue; happiness would be sure to follow. You just need to watch the people who do have all the riches and ideal circumstances, to know that none of those things equate to real happiness. Happiness can only ever come from within. If the core of a person is rotten, everything – riches and circumstance included – will appear rotten too.
As an average woman, who has had her fair share of let downs, I can say that joy can be found in almost every situation. It’s up to you to go looking for it.
Hope you enjoyed today’s post. I love reading and responding to everyone’s comments, so feel free to leave a comment of your own.
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Image Credit: Tom