“Life is soup and I’m a fork.” ~ aUTHOR uNKNOWN
If it was easy, we would all be healthy, joyful and wealthy. If it was fair, there would be no injustice, inequality or discrimination. If it was sensible, it would never be complicated, confusing or baffling. Since life is hard, unfair and senseless, it is impossible to predict the challenges, obstacles, barriers and frustrations that we will each have to deal with in a lifetime. That is why I USE A STANDARD method to deal with adversity…
Yesterday, I learned of a marriage proposal gone very wrong. The fellow proposed underwater, while his girlfriend watched from the viewing area of a submerged hotel room in Tanzania. He never made it out of the water alive. Although the details are still in the early stages, the point is that during one of the most romantic, grand gestures of love and affection, a man lost his life and a woman didn’t even have the chance to wrap her arms around him and accept the ring he displayed through the window. This story consumed my mind for several hours yesterday. I was trying to make sense of it.
I then had to remind myself that life is not fair, that it doesn’t always make sense and that random and sometimes awful things happen to great people. I had to shift my thoughts from horror, negativity and sadnesses for the woman and their family and friends to the three questions that have assisted me to make sense of senseless things.
First, I asked myself what I believed about the situation. In this case, I believed it was a devastating incident. I believed that it was a horrible event. I believed that it was an unfortunate and painful experience that any person would have to endure. Although I was working for 12 hours yesterday and came across the news article on my lunch, it was something that I couldn’t shake until I was able to process it properly, later in the evening.
Since I determined that my initial beliefs were negative and painful, it caused me to ponder on it for some time. I even showed my husband the story, photos and videos, as it was lingering for me. The second question that I asked myself was what positives the story contained. There certainly were many that came to mind, as I learned more about them and researched it more thoroughly.
I learned that it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that included a unique, one-of-a-kind cabin with a submerged bedroom experience, in an absolutely beautiful place in the world. I learned that the couple had taken a several minute video, shortly before the incident, where they were happy, laughing, smiling and joyful. They videotaped this unique hotel room and walked onto all three levels of the structure, showing the beauty, wonder and amazingness of the place, surrounding water and ocean life. They were giddy, in love and filled with gratitude.
The third question I asked myself is, on the basis of the positives, if I could rephrase this incident to something that I was able to process better. Because of all of the good things I read about, I was able to formulate a new belief about the situation. I came to the conclusion that this full-of-life, kind, helpful, service-providing human being was able to do work that he was passionate about, making a difference in the lives of those dealing with addictions issues, who was deeply in love with a lawyer who was deeply in love with him.
They were on a dream trip and had experienced days of wonderful travel together. Apparently they felt that many items on their bucket list had been accomplished. They were at the height of their love for each other and they have a wide network of family and friends who would be there to console and support this woman and their families through this difficult time.
I know it may seem like a bit of a process; however, these questions have assisted me to turn around almost any negative situation that I have experienced. Once we turn our belief around, we can start to move forward, find solutions and eventually, feel better. Considering that I was bothered by a story of perfect strangers, can you imagine how much we are impacted when the situations are closer to home?
I hope that you are able to try these questions as well. In summary, here are the three questions again. I hope that you can benefit in some way from this exercise. I use them regularly, in my head or on paper. It has been a way to shift my perspective and move me forward, when dealing with any adversity.
- What do I believe about this situation?
- What are the positives about this situation?
- What is a new way to look at this situation, that would assist me to feel better?
“Even the smallest shift in perspective can bring about the greatest healing.” ~Joshua Kai