Over the past couple of years, I have started to recognise repeating patterns in the challenges facing me and the way that I deal with them. It is as if the Universe is trying to tell me something and I haven't quite got the message yet!
But I think I am getting there. And it's no surprise, really, when the Universe is working so hard to give me the opportunity to truly grasp the concept and then start to live it. No matter what guise the lesson appears in, I am finally starting to recognise when my response to it is the same - I know that stomach-churning, headache-inducing, and downright unpleasant sensation that says "you're obsessing over this, you need to step back and see the bigger picture" all too well now. And it is my hope that in time I will learn the lesson well enough that these very physical reactions are no longer needed as a "wake-up call".
So what is this lesson? It's knowing that the only thing you can ever do is change yourself, so why bother trying to change anything else?
I realise that in today's world, with so many difficult and unpleasant things happening around the globe, this can sound very much like apathy, but I promise you it's not. I'm not saying that we should never stand up for what is right, protect those who need our help, or pray for a world that is safe and welcoming of everyone. I think we should all do whatever we can to make the world a better place, for ourselves and for our children. But I am beginning to learn that the best way to do this is not to fight against the world, but to change ourselves.
Let me explain...
I have just spent several years putting absolutely everything I had into a cause I felt incredibly passionate about. At the time I thought there was nothing wrong with this - sure, it was having a massive effect on my physical and mental well-being, as well as my home life, but it was all for a good cause, so it must be alright, right?
I was blinded by my passion, ignorant of the detrimental effects it was having on my ability to enact positive change, and over time my responses to the challenges within it grew increasingly tired and defensive. I was unbalanced, pure and simple. Oh, sure, my intentions were the best - I was doing all of this for the benefit of so many, how could that be wrong? Well, it led me to believe the world was simply cruel and unjust, I lived constantly in "fight mode", and even when I began to glimpse how unbalanced this all was, I couldn't step away from it because I had too much invested in it. I was more interested in being 'right' than I was in being happy.
Thankfully, the Universe provided me with the kick up the butt that I so desperately needed, and I had no choice but to leave that situation. Healing from it has been hard, and is still ongoing if the repeated lessons are anything to go by...
You see, at the end of last year I found myself facing a similar situation where I had to choose between being 'right' and being happy. I dreaded it, but actually it came at a time when I was physically very sick and the choice became a no-brainer. Instead of months of pain and deliberation, I chose not to fight a situation that would simply bring more pain and heartbreak, and the resulting feeling of freedom was incredible.
And I thought I had finally learned my lesson. Ha, how little I know myself sometimes! This past week I have faced two battles - one with my health and one with work. Both have upset me greatly, as I have felt backed into a corner where I am both helpless and alone. In each situation my repeated mantra has been "but it isn't fair", and it isn't. But what I am slowly beginning to learn is that life is very often unfair and I cannot fight that alone. Nobody can.
But what we can do is turn inwards, find that part of us that feels unjustly done by, and heal ourselves. We can choose to move away from that which hurts us and focus instead on that which fills us with hope, joy, and peace.
Again, this does not mean turning away from injustice, what it means is refusing to add further pain or fear to the mix. The world already has plenty of that, what it needs is love and acceptance. And we cannot give that to anybody else without first giving it to ourselves.
And herein lies the beauty of this lesson - by changing ourselves we automatically change the world.
I am still only just starting to get my head around this one. It feels totally illogical to turn away from a battle for justice. But what I am learning is that sometimes the battle is won in different ways. For example, this past week I spent two days utterly miserable because of a situation at work. Did my misery change the situation? No. If anything it simply added to a situation that was miserable enough already. The situation is unlikely to change, walking around feeling sorry for myself about it only hurts me in the end. The reality is that this is a battle which is not worth fighting.
But what happens if, instead of focusing on the "unfairness" of the situation, I simply accepted this is the way things are and chose to be happy, truly happy, regardless. What if, instead of 'reacting' to every situation I chose to 'embrace' it all. Sure, the situation is still the same, but I'd be happy. And a happy worker makes for a happy working environment!
This isn't a new concept. I'm sure you've all read about someone who has chosen to live their life with gratitude, peace and happiness, no matter the circumstances surrounding them. And aren't they always the most inspirational of stories. Don't we always wish we could be more like them, or that there were more people like them in the world? Well, let's do it, let's change ourselves and see what happens.
As I write this I cannot help but think about all the atrocities that are happening around the world today. I cannot help but remember that there is so much fear, pain, and anger out there, and that life is, for so many, difficult beyond comprehension. But how much of that has developed as a result of somebody, somewhere, making a decision to try and "change the world"? And yet still we continue making the exact same decisions.
Isn't it time we tried something new?
I am linking this post up with #sharethejoy over at The Joy Chaser today, because the lessons and realisations I have mentioned in this post have certainly turned my heart and mind away from a path of pain and towards a path of joy. If you've never seen #sharethejoy, do go over and have a look, it is a wonderful blog linky open to anyone and everyone who wishes to join in.
Whilst Spirit Kid Network is still very new, I hope that you can see where I'm going with it, and that the content I have already written has been helpful, encouraging and inspiring.
If you like what you see, please do consider nominating Spirit Kid Network in the "Fresh Voice" category in the BiBs and "Best New Blog" in the MADs by clicking on the links below. Thanks.