Here’s another big concept I’m picking up on from Julie Genovese’s wise words – the idea of Choice.
We can choose how to respond and to see our challenges. One person can see his obstacles as his demise; another sees it as an opportunity. It’s all in the viewing. If those glasses are too dark and you can’t see clearly, change to a lighter pair.
It’s obviously not as easy as that, but that’s the idea. The work is in getting there. First you have to want to; second you have to believe it’s in your power to.
A lot of times we stay stuck in a negative place because we feel badly and we’re waiting to feel better so we can get moving. As we know that could take a long time.
We might consider acting the way we’d like to, if we felt better. In other words, act before we feel. Put the action before the feeling. That can actually propel us toward that feeling.
When my daughter, Nava, went through her medical crisis, I knew I was very susceptible to falling into a deep dark hole of despair.
I had been there years before when I first found out about Nava’s disabilities. It was a time of bitterness, resentment, jealousy and anger. The ‘why me, why my child’ sat on my shoulders weighing me down with angst. I couldn’t even bring myself to take her to the park. It was too painful for me to be with acquaintances and friends who I knew had had ‘normal’ babies at the same – to have in my face these babies who were holding their heads up and reaching out for their toys, while mine sat back contentedly in her stroller looking around and smiling.
At that time I didn’t appreciate her most wonderful disposition; I was only focused on what she couldn’t do. My shift in perspective came later when I began to take in her goodness and See all that she Could Do.
All the while, I was getting help from a therapist and a parent support group, both of which were absolute life-savers.
Eventually I made the decision to go to the park; to feel the pain and go anyway. My baby needed to be in regular environments with ‘normal’ kids. If I waited to feel better, she could’ve lost out on those early years of seeing and being with her regular toddler peers.
So when crisis number two arrived – Nava’s medical condition- I made a conscious decision to not allow myself to go down to that dark place again. I was all too familiar with that one. I could not afford to be sucked in to the muck and rehash the ‘why me, why my daughter’ mantra. I knew the answer already – There was none. (Not in this world anyway. I’m hoping in the next one, these questions of the human condition of suffering will be answered.)
When I felt myself starting to go down that path:
I put up a Stop sign in my mind and held onto that visual that said, ‘don’t go there.’
I did a lot of self-talk – “you know it’s an exercise in futility to start with those questions which breeds self-pity. Don’t start with that ‘why me’ crap. You need to stay strong and clear-minded.”
I did a lot of (extra) walking to keep myself energized.
I certainly was not going to allow my energy to be consumed by the unanswerables and by getting myself trapped inside my own despair again.
That of course didn’t negate the feelings of pain and sadness. Many days I came home from the hospital especially during those initial weeks of sheer terror and curled up in bed crying for hours until there was nothing left in me. Then I got up and carried on.
Choosing to respond a certain way doesn’t mean we don’t feel our feelings. We must allow expression of them. Rather it means we can try to manage what we do with them, how we handle them, how we give expression to them. And eventually how we view our difficulties and what we do with them. It is truly up to us.
How have you chosen to see something differently or to respond differently? When have you acted a certain way before feeling it?
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