These two simple steps will transform even your biggest challenge into JOY
Halloween seemed doomed last year. It was the first time that my middle son couldn’t walk at all. He has DMD, a degenerative neuromuscular condition, and had been declining quickly over the last couple of years. And this was it, the Halloween we had dreaded, the one where he couldn’t even stand at a door to get candy even if we carried him up the stairs to the house. He was distraught, “How will Halloween work for me Mama?” I was not sure, that was the truth. This was so very sad. It was always a much anticipated holiday for my family and now, it seemed to be something to dread.
Until…we moved into the world of what was POSSIBLE instead of what seemed impossible.
Two simple steps moved us into a different world, one where we saw things with new eyes and let me tell you, this is a world you’d rather live in.
I’m guessing if you’re human like me, you have felt the weight of a moment when life seemed to be giving you too much to manage. There isn’t a way to make this work, we often think. But these two simple steps can be the start to a new way to live through those challenges. So let’s dive in!
Accept the truth.
I’ll bet that if you’re like any other human, the first thing you do when something isn’t the way you would like is to…RESIST it. I happen to know this well because I’m human and it’s the natural response. No one wants to suffer. No one. But when we resist the truth, we shut down. And when we shut down, we can’t see ANYTHING.
So, for months before that Halloween, I was saying things to myself like,
“I don’t want Halloween to come.”
“There’s no way to make this a good night.”
“There’s no way my son can enjoy it.”
And my favorite crutch, “This isn’t fair.”
So, what was I doing? I was resisting. I was denying. I was saying no to the present.
Now, you’ve probably heard me say that you need to also accept and honor your emotions. That still holds true. I was SAD, MAD, and FRUSTRATED. No denying those. But then I needed to move those into the present and manage the suffering right in front of me. I can hold those emotions while still accepting the truth.
So, let’s get back to my example and try my next approach…accepting the present moment and all that it brought to me emotionally…
“This Halloween feels really hard.” (That’s the darn truth. Sad but accepting.)
“This Halloween will be different.” (No getting around that.)
“This Halloween will LOOK different for our family.”
And my all-time favorite tool for accepting the present…yep, you guessed it, GRATITUDE.
“Thank you for this sadness.” (Yep, that’s it, just thank you, since I really didn’t know why the hell I would be thanking something that made me so very sad.)
If you haven’t watched my TEDx talk on how to use gratitude to thrive in a moment of suffering, go ahead and watch it after you read this. There, I explain the simple steps I took to start turning towards my challenges with gratitude and how that led me to JOY.
Whatever tool you use, find some way to face the present because the world of possibility is closed to you otherwise, trust me.
Move into the world of POSSIBLITY
Alright, now for the juicy stuff. Now, when you move toward the present moment, when you accept the truth, you can SEE so much more!
You can start asking yourself simple questions to move into a different and far more livable world.
“This will look different, yes, but how can WE imagine that in another way?”
“How could my son still find joy on this evening?”
“How could this situation/experience/moment be meaningful for us still?”
(This last one is the real Secret Sauce: Suffering is only suffering without meaning, said Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist, and general master life teacher)
Back to my example…
“How could Halloween still have some of the elements (the dress-up fun, the candy getting, the joy of being around other children) that my son yearns for?”
“How could this night look different than the utter dread I am imagining right now?”
Well, there is a sweet, very flat outdoor mall here that does trick or treating earlier in the evening. We hadn’t been there since my oldest was a little walking one. But we could go back? DONE! Now, that experience is a staple of our evening before we go back into the neighborhood for trick or treating and my son LOVES it! Just because we thought we had “outgrown” that part of Halloween doesn’t mean that we couldn’t benefit from it again.
“How could I bring meaning to this holiday for my son?” In other words, how could this feel like something special for him instead of something that excludes him from “regular life?”
We decided our son could not be just a kid in a costume who sits in a wheelchair but instead, a child whose wheelchair was part of the experience. So, we and friends build him the raddest, most amazing costume he desires. And let me tell you, he is a ROCK STAR! Applause, kids ooh-ing and aah-ing, videos and pictures taken, high fives, he is a hit. Check him out for yourself…
And so he feels special instead of “weird” and most, most importantly…he teaches all of us a meaningful lesson…
He teaches us that there is more than one way to live this life.
And that you can ALWAYS live in the realm of POSSIBLITY.
And that, my lovelies, is a gateway to JOY.
Because when we shift how we SEE the world, we shift how we LIVE IN the world.
We change our perception and that changes our experience.
Now, I would love to hear from you!
So, when you try these steps, please share with me your worlds of POSSIBLITY…