Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass,
it’s about learning to dance in the rain. -Vivian Greene
In my life I have dealt with personal hardships of varying degrees, as I am sure, after living through the COVID-19 pandemic and surviving Hurricane Michael’s wrath, all of us now have. Those experiences were brutal. Each of them knocked me down, off course and counted me out for a period of time. But in each case, I picked myself up, many times with the help of true friends, and pressed forward with a stronger and greater understanding and respect for life. Here are some vital lessons I have learned along the way.
Learn to trust yourself. It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. Repeat that in your mind every morning. Because the truth is, it all works out in the end. Put your full trust in yourself by following your intuition and doing your best, and then move forward one step at a time with faith and confidence in the future. Love, persistence and hard work combined rarely lead a person astray in the long run.
If you have faith in your abilities, if you stay true to the path that feels right, if you channel your passion into action, you will ultimately achieve a breakthrough.
Focus on what you’re learning. Mistakes and setbacks are simply a form of practice. If the road is easy and free of bumps, you’re likely going the wrong way. The bumps in the road teach you what you need to know to progress down a path that is all your own. Sometimes things have to go wrong in order to go right. Sometimes you need to change a flat tire or two before you can move on. Your journey isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be worth it. To never struggle is to never grow and there is no perfectly smooth road to any place worth going.
Ease your expectations. Life is under no obligation to give you exactly what you expect. Whatever it is you’re seeking will rarely ever come in the form you’re expecting. Don’t miss the silver lining because you were expecting a gold one. You must see and accept things as they are instead of as you hoped, wished, or expected them to be. Just because it didn’t turn out like you had envisioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what you need to get to where you ultimately want to go.
Open up to someone you trust. You aren’t alone; let someone special in when you’re in a dark place. You know who this person is. Don’t expect them to solve your problems; just allow them to face your problems with you. Give them permission to stand beside you. They won’t necessarily be able to pull you out of the darkness, but the light that spills in when they enter will at least show you where a door is.
Above all, the important thing to remember is that you are not alone. No matter how bizarre or embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, there is someone in your life who has dealt with similar emotions and who wants to help you.
Use hope to drive positive action. Only in the dark can you see the stars. The stars are hope. Look for them. The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope as you work for what you want. Hope alone will not save you from despair, but it will empower you to strive and grow even when your circumstances have you in shambles.
Move TOWARDS something instead of AWAY. “Don’t think about eating the entire box of Little Debbie Raisin Cream Pies!” What are you thinking about now? Eating those Little Debbies and turning into Big Deborah, right? When you concentrate on not thinking about something, you end up thinking about it. Instead of persistently trying to move away from what you don’t want, choose to focus your energy on moving toward something you do want and you will naturally leave the negative weight behind as you progress forward.
Take a few steps back. Everything seems simpler from a distance. Sometimes you simply need to distance yourself to see things more clearly. You are more than whatever is troubling you. A very real part of you exists beyond your worries, beyond your doubts, independent from the troubles and frustrations of the present moment. Step back and observe yourself. Be present. Think of the most difficult challenge you face right now. Imagine that it’s not you, but a close friend who is facing this challenge. What advice would you give that person? If you could step back and, instead of being the subject, look at your situation as an objective observer, would you look at it any differently? Are you following your own best advice right now?
Give yourself time. Take all the time you need. Emotional healing is a process; don’t rush yourself through it. Don’t let others force you through it, either. Moving on doesn’t take a day; it takes lots of little steps to be able to break free of your broken past and your wounded self. Take each day breath by breath, one step at a time. Never let trouble from the past make you feel like you have a bad life now. Just because yesterday was painful doesn’t mean today will be too. Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us. Give yourself the needed time and permission to explore and heal.
Look for the beginning in every ending. A wise man once said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Today is a new beginning; treat it that way. Stop thinking about what might have been and starting looking at what can be.
Say to yourself: “Dear Past, thank you for all the life lessons you have taught me. Dear Future, I am ready now!” A great beginning always occurs at the exact moment you thought would be the end of everything. It’s time to dance.
The floor is yours . . .
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