Part I - The Problem
Life can usually be” handled.”
But there are times when the plates you have managed to keep spinning above your head start to wobble …
The Final Straw That Breaks The Camels Back
Maybe you've been holding things together pretty well but you find yourself in the "perfect storm" of not one or two problems, but three or four.
In the heady days of the 80’s, young PR Manager Victoria Carter was head hunted by a CEO to work for a large company.
While the share market was soaring high, she launched her own board game in a burst of expensive publicity.
The next day the stock market crashed.
Then she received a fax that the CEO who head hunted her was leaving the company.
She rushed to his office determined to ask him why he hadn't taken her into his confidence and let her know he was resigning.
Victoria knocked on his door, handed him the shiny fax paper and asked: "Why didn't you tell me?"
He took the fax and quickly scanned it before replying; "Because I didn't know."
At that moment the chairman's office door opposite opened.
He looked at Victoria and the CEO standing together and she knew she would be next.
It was Christmas.
She was just 23 and had lost her job, her shiny new company car, her office, her confidence and felt absolutely shattered, disappointed and confused.
She remembers thinking, “I might never have the confidence to work again.”
And her relationship was on the rocks …
When Spinning The Ships Wheel Does Nothing In The Storm
Some days “life” is a storm and something unexpected comes out of nowhere, knocks you off course and turns your life upside down.
We're all scared because we all know that life can blow us off course at any moment.
Hot Button Double Whammy
Then there's the case of the “hot button double whammy” when a current issue brings up feelings left over from old unresolved issues.
Maybe your Father left your family when you were young, leaving you with nagging abandonment issues, then your partner leaves you for another woman?
Or, you’re just finding your feet after an expensive divorce where your wife traded up to a richer guy, you finally pull yourself together, get back in the love game, fall for another lady and get engaged before your new fiancé does the same thing.
“Why Me?” Moments
A friend, is asking “why me?” right now - her Dad died young so she missed out on the “Grandpa years” and now her husband has cancer.
Another refugee friend who lost his entire family within a year of escaping from Tibet tells it like this:
“People say, “it'll never happen to me.”
Then when something happens, they ask, “why me?”
He adds, ‘Why not?’”
Once upon a time, a wealthy western seeker travelled to India to find a guru and ask him about the losses in her life.
She asked, “why do I have so much suffering in my life?”
He replied, “I like my suffering. It gets me closer to God.”
Sometimes when I'm a little lost in self-pity, I consider for a moment the people that I know are doing it tougher than me.
A Pastor friend has a suggestion for people who come to him complaining about their lives.
“1. Think of someone worse off than you.
2. Pray for them for 30 days.
3. Come and see me again!”
My life isn't without its challenges but that kinda puts my own hassles into perspective.
Right now I can think of one friend battling cancer, another one recovering from a brain tumor, and another who’s lost his job, his wife and his family and is on a drug fueled downward spiral.
Buddha said, “Life is suffering.”
That quotation helps me lower my expectations of a hassle-free, problem-free, suffering-free life.
Life is a mental game.
In times of crisis it's an emotional journey and in moments of survival it’s a gripping drama with the outcome uncertain when players change masks and places, the scenery is replaced, the stage beneath you shifts without warning and the emotions that are provoked churn and challenge your beliefs about yourself and the nature of life.
Part II - The Most Important Goal
There are two ways to track your life and keep tabs on how you’re doing.
The obvious external measures are; health, wealth, relationships, career, family.
The others are less tangible and less obvious; your inner growth, depth and maturity as a person.
Sometimes your health, wealth, relationships are all on course, but when things are easy and I'm comfortable I've noticed I don't grow much.
I'm not going to do all that hard work and face all the uncomfortable stuff in my life without a darn good reason!
But from the perspective of my growth, I might actually be better off when my health, wealth, relationships are off course and things are shot to heck!
These are the times when I might exclaim; “this [insert situation] is frustrating the hell out of me!!”
(NB. If you throw these words back at me when I'm in the midst of a life crisis and ask me “if I'm enjoying all of these ‘growth opportunities’” I’ll probably give you an ear full!)
I was shocked at the boldness of Olivia Newton-John’s friend who after hearing about her cancer diagnosis, said;
“Congratulations! Now you will grow.”
Maybe a health scare is what you need to get your attention and push your life out into another direction like it put Olivia on a healthy living track.
Just as the suffering of losing your job, may be exactly what you need in order to grow.
One of the best ways to be brought face to face with our “stuff” is through our relationships, we could call them “people growth opportunities!”
So, if your primary “people growth opportunity” is not going the way you would like, that doesn’t mean you can't use the experience as a means for wisdom, maturity and capacity for future happiness.
Life is not going to go in a nice steady upward straight line.
It’s going to go up and down, backwards and forwards, two steps forward, one step back.
“The truth is that things don't really get solved.
They come together and they fall apart.
Then they come together again and fall apart again…
The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
Things never come together and stay together, just like Humpty Dumpty even if you could put him back together, pieces will fall off again.
You’re not going to be able to build the perfect life and accumulate everything like a grand tower you can plonk a comfy armchair on top of and relax.
Life is messy and pieces keep falling off what you build.
This is why resilience, determination and stickability are more important than easy wins, talent and slick moves.
Whatever you build is subject to decay and everything can be blown away.
Some of it goes backwards quickly, some sticks together for a while, but eventually it all crumbles to dust.
Your Greatest Treasure!
At this point you probably know that you will gain some things and lose others, but through it all, you remember your greatest treasure …
Because people love and love makes you happy.
Is that the point of this post?!
Like everything in life, relationships are work and need constant maintenance.
Some people will surprise you and stay the course, some will leave and others may betray you.
People will come and people will go and sadly, you will lose people that you love.
Part III – Your Ultimate Treasure
So, what are you left with of eternal value that cannot be taken from you and cannot be destroyed?
How you have allowed life to make and fashion you ...
Who you have become.
And as your reward for reading this far, that was the first takeaway for today!
The 2nd Takeaway
If you think your life is a disaster because things keep falling apart and you're frustrated because you keep losing people, things and opportunities, or you feel like you're being stalked by divorce, cancer or death - that’s normal folks!
That brings us to the 3rd Takeaway!
Just because your life is “wrong” this doesn’t necessarily mean that life has gone or is going wrong!
Life being messy and under constant maintenance is the natural way of things.
Learning how to accept this jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing, pieces you’ve lost and can’t find and will never find, and a picture that refuses to come together and stay together, means you can trust the process in all its random, crazy, unpredictable, wonderful glory.
Whenever someone asked the Zen master how he was, he would always answer, "I'm okay."
Finally one of his students said, "How can you always be okay? Don’t you ever have a bad day?!"
The Zen master calmly replied …
"Sure I do.
On bad days, I'm okay.
On good days, I’m okay.
This is called equanimity."
What happened to Victoria?
Not long after losing her job, shiny company car, corner office, relationship and her confidence, she got a call from John, the owner of a real estate company, asking her if she would like to be PR director.
She worked there for a year, developing marketing ideas for property developers before John suggested she start her own PR business.
He offered to help her get established with his company as her first client.
She decided she would back herself and now she is a glamorous, respected and successful business owner who has never looked back.
That's all for today folks!
Unless the first part was such a downer you need a sugar free, fat free, no guilt upper, in which case here's a song guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
wishing you the best of days!
Harley M Storey
"The Life Coach Toolman!"