Make it Count
The challenges of life whether they be health issues, financial problems, petty inconveniences or even death happen for all of us. If you are on the planet more than a few years, there is zero chance of escaping difficulties that can break you down, tear you apart, or both.
My philosophy of life has become one that supports the concept that if I must go through ___________in my life, then I want to make it COUNT. I want to be able to learn something that will make the rest of my days a bit easier or give me some learning that I can share with others so perhaps their suffering is a bit less. In short, if I must live through a challenging experience then I want to be a bit wiser and stronger when I come out at the other end.
It just doesn’t make sense to me that any hardship would not bring something positive, even if it is simply a lesson that I can refer to in the future.
After being on the planet for nearly 67 years I have had a lot of experience navigating these waters and it seems as though the practice of making it count can also give a bonus that can soften the pain associated with any event.
I have two powerful practice tips that have helped me make my current cancer adventure, as well as countless others, count.
Tip #1: ACCEPTANCE
I learned a long time ago that resisting whatever it is on my plate of life does not make it go away. This is true even if I did not deserve whatever was served up or if my challenge was someone else’s fault or if it was merely an accident. There are no exceptions to the power of accepting what IS in any given moment.
Acceptance means I don’t argue with God about it and try to make a deal. I don’t look for who I can blame for it and I don’t use energy to fight it. Note: Acceptance does not mean I simply give up and succumb to the challenge, but it does mean that after taking any actions possible to make it better, I accept that which I cannot change.
The great thing about a well-developed muscle of acceptance is it automatically brings peace. Resistance takes work and causes suffering in the process. Acceptance allows me to relax and observe what is unfolding.
Tip #2: LOOK for the FEAR
A handy shortcut in dealing with the turbulent emotions that can blossom during any challenging time is to look for the fear.
For example, in a health crisis like a cancer diagnosis, asking yourself, “What am I afraid of?” is key.
Once the answers come, such as I’m afraid of the pain; going through surgery; losing a body part; being physically helpless; losing income; dying, etc., the next step is looking each fear in the eye.
What I have found is when I do “get real” with my fear and look it in the eye, that particular fear loses its power over me. I always discover that I am stronger than any of my fears. Since I am not afraid to die, which is the ultimate fear for many people, then I know I can deal with anything else that shows up along the way.
Included in this process, emotional uprisings can show up as well. Although I have often been accused of being a Pollyanna, I don’t shut my scary emotions down, but let them ride their course. My trick is I stay awake to what I am experiencing and am careful not to add to my fears by making up scary stories that would keep me tossing about in the storm longer than necessary.
Staying in the present moment helps guide me back to peaceful acceptance. Asking myself what I can do right now to feel better has been much more effective than adding to my misery.
Talking to someone about my fears is always helpful for me. Typically, simply speaking about my fears out loud brings clarity and relief.
I also like to write. As I let the emotions escape through my pen or my keyboard it always provides me relief as well as some wisdom. I have a stack of journals that hold countless bits of wisdom that never could have been born without a challenge.
Meditation and prayer are also my allies. The trick is not to do either from a place of fear but to allow myself to trust I am not alone, but fully supported and loved.
Making it count also requires each of us to play on our own team and to not self-sabotage our efforts.
Making it count requires we hold ourselves with love, acceptance, forgiveness, and respect. We must treat ourselves in an honoring way rather than inflicting additional pain or suffering by telling ourselves we may fail.
Since I have obviously survived all of my challenging storms so far, it is proof that I have an excellent record of success and that alone makes the life-long trail of difficulties COUNT.