This summer, as some of you may recall, I found myself in what was undoubtedly the hardest week of 2017 for me to date.
“When it rains it monsoons” might have been a more accurate saying.
1. I was sick, something that just feels wrong in heat of August.
2. I was being booted out of my current apartment in a rural community days before my next place would be ready, unsure of where to house my belongings (or my bum).
3. I had to decide whether I should follow through with my plans to attend the Oregon Eclipse Gathering in Oregon, a once-in-a-lifetime gathering put on by 11 international “transformational festivals” (i.e. my favourite things) to celebrate the August solar eclipse and a trip I’d be planning for almost a year, or sell my ticket and stay at work in order to be on better terms with my team. The time-off had been approved by my boss six months ago, so on one hand I was convinced that I was in the right. But the likelihood of incurring resentment from my co-workers was very high, and I needed to decide if the trip was worth facing that.
Should I just quit? Was this the universe’s way of pushing me toward a more soul-centered path? Was the risk of feeling rejected from my co-workers worth it?
My mind felt like a heap of tangled Christmas lights.
So I picked up the phone and called my Aunt Jo, someone who could shed wisdom on any situation. After listening to the recount of my emotional saga, she said she had just what I needed: her most recent weekly homework from Bright Path, the meditation program she follows. She explained that the readers’ task, whenever they found themselves in a challenging or painful situation, was to replace the words “Why is this happening to me?” with “Why is this happening for me?”
Right away I got it that “Why is this happening to me?” comes from someone taking the position of victim, whereas “Why is this happening for me?” comes from someone who believes they are being given a gift.
I clearly needed to test this out myself. So channeling the energy of grateful recipient, I tried on the belief that there was a specific lesson I clearly needed to be learning at this point in my life and the stars had aligned to bring me the perfect situation in which to learn it, as challenging as it may be.
I felt everything shift. The anger, resentment, and confusion that had been smothering me seemed to evaporate. In its place came feelings of faith, contentment, and optimism. I actually felt physically lighter.
Was it really this simple? Talk about divine timing.
Having noticed such a dramatic change by just swapping that one word, I knew there was only one way forward. On the spot I said "adios" to my victim identity, and got off the phone with a new detective-like mindset, eyes peeled and ready to spot the opportunities, gifts, and lessons that I now believed would be unfolding in front of me directly as a result of, for lack of better words, shit appearing to "hit the fan."
I ultimately made the decision to forgo my special trip and stay to focus on re-building my work relationships because I knew it was the mature and right thing to do. I was crushed, and could have easily just wallowed in my self-pity; but by continuing to repeat the words "Why is this happening for me?" I stayed in a much healthier headspace, and was able to work through my disappointment and sadness quicker than normal because I was on a mission to uncover the deeper lessons meant for me.
Not long after, I synchronistically came across the book “Your Soul’s Plan: Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born” by Robert Schwartz. The book's core message is that before each reincarnation we as souls on another plane actually plan the major challenges we will encounter in life (e.g. illness, addiction, accidents). Therefore, as awful and unfair as some of these experiences first appear to us humans (“personalities”) because we cannot see the much larger, spiritual picture, it is going exactly as planned as far as the soul can see, and is intended for the specific learning we set out to have in this lifetime.
I found this so deeply comforting, and it helped to keep me in a place of gratitude.
“Gratitude does not mean that we are 'glad' we suffered," Schwartz explains. "It means finding an aspect or consequence of a life challenge to appreciate. Regardless of the nature or severity of our challenges, growth and learning may always result.” (p. 124)
The Bright Path word swap and the book completely reaffirmed each other, allowing me to see my challenging situation as a gift that I was being given for my highest good. I also knew I'd be stupid to not also adopt this mindset for all road bumps I would inevitably face in the future, some of them being much larger than this.
Is there a situation you've been in or are currently in that you could try viewing through the new lens of grateful recipient?
Can you look beyond the pain with the belief that gifts and lessons specifically intended for your highest good and growth await?
I’m confident that if we can all commit to a "Why is this happening for me" mindset, our challenges will seem few and the gifts will seem plentiful, and who doesn’t want it to feel like Christmas every day?!