Our life’s journey doesn’t always go as planned. This month did not go at all as I had planned or expected. My expectations for this month consisted of family outings, relaxing, reading, doing research and working on my writing. Life does not work on my schedule, although I have always felt that it should. Family illness and resultant travel changed all of my plans. Much of what I planned did not happen, and may not happen for some time. It’s no one’s fault; it’s simply life.
I write often about stress and anxiety, noting that the unknown, as well as unmet expectations, cause most of our stress. The reality of life, though, is that it is unknown and doesn’t always meet our expectations. Is this to say that we are doomed to live a life filled with stress and anxiety? Not at all.
As I reflect on the events of this month I have the choice of either focusing on the illness in the family and “lost” time since I didn’t get to do what I planned and expected, or I could change my view about this month. I need to either view what has happened from a different perspective or suffer from continued stress and anxiety. My personality is such that I always want to be in control, even though I realize that I am not in total control of my life or of the world around me. As I more fully understand the lack of control in life, the more I will learn to accept life as it is. This is not to say that I can’t influence my life or future, but I need to have realistic expectations about what is and is not in my control.
The first thing to do in changing your perspective is to take time in quiet meditation to allow yourself the ability to come to terms with your feelings. I am not saying that we deny what has happened or what we feel, no, we need to accept what we feel since our emotions are true to ourselves. Once you accept your feelings you open yourself up to learning from the experience. It’s in this learning stage wherein we work on changing our perspective. Why? The choice we have is to either learn lessons of negativity or positivity. Personally, I am choosing to learn something positive from my experiences.
Once I chose to focus on the positive I reflected on the experiences from a different perspective. There is not much positive to be found in the illness of a loved one, but that illness provided an opportunity for me and my extended family to gather when we would not have otherwise done so. I had the opportunity to travel to my hometown, finding a closeness with my extended family in our prolonged talks and reminiscing of the past. It is not in the illness where I find the positive, rather it is in the opportunity it provided where I find the positive. Regarding my expectation of catching up on my reading and writing, true, those expectations were not fulfilled, but given the experience, I gained insight into myself which can be used for future writing projects. Although, as I continue to change my perspective, I have to honestly say that the opportunity of experiencing closeness with family plus gaining insight into myself trumps my earlier expectations for this month. How can my reading and writing keep pace with family and insight into oneself?
I continue to learn that I am not in control of life, but I am in control of my thoughts and perspective. I can’t control what happens to me, but I can control my thoughts about those events. Turning to meditation, prayer and reflection, I was able to find the tools I needed to view the events of July from a positive perspective.
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