Life is full of the unexpected. Sometimes we’re thrilled with what is happening, other times we’re devastated. It’s the mixture of tough and easy that makes us value everything that happens to us more deeply. Every moment gives us a choice. We can look at an event as a catastrophe, or an opportunity to rise above what’s happening and use the experience to enhance our lives.
Often this begins with stepping back and reevaluating the way we perceive things so we can move from fear to peacefulness, and have compassion for ourselves and others. Virginia Satir writes, “Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”
I am increasingly aware of how many people around me are being courageous in their choices to rise above what is presently happening. Chelsea Werner, now 25, was born with Down’s Syndrome and told she would never maintain healthy muscle tissue. She loved gymnastics and proceeded to win the Special Olympics National Gymnastics Championship 4 years in a row, and then went on to win 2 world Championships, the latest in 2020. She reminds me of the Coco Chanel saying, “If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.”
Oprah Winfrey healed from her child abuse, and Steven Hawking continued to use his fine mind despite his ALS. My mother-in-law, Dorothy, rose up after numerous miscarriages, and the passing of her youngest daughter Debra at nine months. Michael J Fox continues to courageously meet the daily challenges of living with Parkinson’s Disease.
Many women have taken a difficult cancer prognosis and, instead of becoming a victim, used it for self-discovery, personal growth, an opportunity to love more deeply, and renewed appreciation of every moment, whatever it holds. That is rising up.
Here are a few helpful ideas to remember when we experience life’s unexpected challenges. This is the time for being authentic. It’s important to feel the pain, accept our emotions, and allow ourselves to grieve so we can refocus on our needs and resources. Cry the tears and scream if it helps. At some point the intense emotions will diminish.
For our wellbeing, it’s essential that we let go of what we can’t control. Trying to control what is out of our control is an exercise in futility that wastes our time and energy, and delays healing. This is the time to be kind to ourselves, love ourselves, and forgive whatever needs forgiving. This is the time for resilience and persistence, for doing things differently with new perspective and innovation. Francis of Assisi wrote, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
We rise up when we ask for help and accept support. It can be meaningful to find out how others have coped, but only we know what is right for us. Clarity comes easier when we distance ourselves from the drama so our perspective is balanced. Releasing our anxieties is the path to inner peace.
Spiritual practices are part of rising up. When we read spiritual books and gather with likeminded people, we build our inner resources. Doing a walking meditation through nature clears the mind and prepares us to hear our quiet inner guidance. Quiet meditative time offers calmness and reassurance that we are not alone.
Practicing gratitude is a good attitude adjuster to reframing our challenge. So is enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Gratitude can help us see that obstacles do serve a purpose – they give us a choice to become either bitter or better. We all know inspiring people who have transcended their adversities and discovered strength, peace, wisdom, and love beyond what they thought possible. We can too.
It’s our difficult moments that define us. They bring out our best and our worst. Our worst comes out when we focus on past mistakes and what we could or should have done differently, so we feel like a failure. Our best is seen when we control our thoughts and harness our inner strength – and we all have inner strength, even when we think we don’t. As Oprah Winfrey says, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
When we face difficult change with a courageous heart, we can make the unexpected work for us, not against us. We discover new meaning in our relationships, a change of focus, and talents we didn’t know we had. And when we rise up together, we are even stronger than when we rise up individually. Let’s keep each other supported and encouraged as we continue to rise up to our daily challenges.
Until Next Time – Sylvia