Turning the Tide in Our Favor
She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” – Elizabeth Edwards
I finished reading a novel that constantly hints Dory’s words in Finding Nemo:
“When life beats you down, just keep swimming, keep swimming, swimming”.
It just hit me how much meaning this message has in my life! It speaks about my yearning to find a harbor, and the paths I have taken in my quest. It also made me realize how my swimming has slowly, but steadily changed over the past years.
I used to think I had to “swim” alone. I was wrong.
I thought about the people that have come and go into my life and how they have lifted me, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Life is easier understood backward; when we have the peace of mind to observe our development without being crushed by our emotions running wild. Looking back allows us to “see” the invisible lines that connect events and people in our story and realize that there is nothing random about our past and present circumstances. On the contrary, events have come together purposely over time, bringing lessons and gifts into our lives.
When one is undergoing an event -overall if such event is it not to our liking- things get unnoticed. We tend to get wrapped in what’s wrong and overlook positives angles in our situation.
Sometimes this happens because we are not yet prepared to absorb their wisdom. Others, the connection is so subtle or bloody right unbelievable, that it must scream at us to make itself obvious; and when it does, we are too tired to correct course. Last but not least, because changes and things that matter, take the time and the ability to adapt.
Where are you going Dory?
Keep swimming can be interpreted in different ways. I settled for the non-supportive perspective — the one pointing to struggle; instead of an empowering one, building resilience.
Can you imagine how hard is to admit I have played a part in what is wrong with my life? That I was somehow putting myself in a path that attracted the kind of behavior and situations that made me feel victimized?
It’s all about me. That’s what makes it terrifying!
To accept that where I find myself today is the result of my choices -even when some of them have been unconscious — is not easy to swallow.
Let me be clear, this is not about condoning other people’s behavior or wrongdoings; is about my responses in challenging situations. What meaning do I choose to give to the event? How aware am I of how my past experiences are affecting my point of view? What can I do to make it better; how do I look for the gold?
Once, I was defined by pain and struggle. From that place, it was easy to blame everything but me for my circumstances and make excuses for my lack of actions.
I counted my blessings and talents, acknowledged the goals I had achieved and those I had evaded. I allowed myself to embrace what I wanted in life and honestly assess where I find myself now so I can move in the right direction. It occurred to me:
“If where I am today is the result of a learned mindset; Let’s change it.”
I decided to work on adopting the mindsets that can help me create the life I want!
How do I handle it now?
I know that when not paying attention to my behavior and thoughts I am allowing myself to be abused, to be trapped by the ghosts of the past, or the zombies of the present. I understand that when I put myself in certain situations or allow my old patterns to run by default, I am sabotaging not only my present but crippling my future.
I do my best to distance myself from my emotions to see what it is behind them and question my beliefs.
Yes, sometimes keep swimming is the only thing to do, but we don’t have to do it alone; a friend, a therapist or a casual encounter can offer a hand.
There are also an array of books and articles out there that undoubtedly would shed some light on our issue — shared humanity is called- we are not the only ones who have experienced… Well, anything!
When I reassessed my past and made a list of the strengths and qualities that have served me well, I found their roots solidly grounded in many of those situations that made me unhappy. Once I began seeing how much I have gained and grown; the experiences took another light.
None of those events had broken me. I had not only survived, but had become a better person, one who had developed potential she didn’t know she had.
“D” is for Building Resilience
We don’t need permission to remember our past differently. We can tell a story of resilience and treasures found along the way instead of drowning in the familiar mud. Practicing this might be the most important part of the journey.
Circumstances can be extremely painful, losses can be unbearable, and there’s such a thing as unspeakable behaviors. Yes! It is also true that there are kinder ways to learn a lesson. I vote for those! Nevertheless, for that to be part of my experience, I need to allow them into my life. My energy needs to be tuned to that possibility.
Do you remember being a kid, looking at things with awe, without judgment, just absorbing facts and exploring possibilities?
That’s it! Keep it simple, be curious about where you find yourself and life will show you exits that you couldn’t even imagine.
Next time you feel overcome by a challenge ask yourself:
How is “X” situation making me stronger, what is teaching me?
What we focus on expands!
Our inner world determines our outer world. If I want my reality to change, it must start with me. I must look for what serves and supports me in becoming a bigger person.
By monitoring my thoughts and emotions and being mindful of my triggers and beliefs, I can begin to peel those sabotaging identities disguising the real me and make decisions from a better place. I can accumulate proof of my worthiness and capabilities. I can claim a Life!
Keep swimming! And do so, on the waves of resilience and confidence in your greatness and the wonders in store for you.