Life is all about going through challenges, and overcoming adversity isn’t new to mankind. It has always been the case since the beginning of time and it always will be. But sometimes when we are caught up in life challenges and are experiencing negative emotion, it’s difficult to see or believe that we will get past it. We are emotional beings with a constant influx of thoughts and emotions and it’s normal to feel discouraged at times.
What helps is to realize that we are built to be able to overcome whatever we experience in this life. It is simply how we are designed. No matter what our specific circumstances are, we all have the ability to live an empowered life filled with many moments of peace, love, fulfillment and joy.
The reason for that is that our state of being is different from our life situation that sometimes consists of life challenges and adversities.
Our life situation is always changing and based on circumstances, surrounding and experience and some things are under our control while others are not. Examples are: being single, married or divorced; young or old; adored or rejected; alone or in a relationship; working or unemployed; financially successful or going bankrupt; healthy or chronically ill; disabled or able-bodied; rich or poor; in celebration or bereavement; with blessings or loss; etc… and the list goes on and on, forever.
When you believe your level of joy and peace is based on your life situation, there is never a guarantee that you will be okay because your life situation is always changing and nothing is ever guaranteed. That in turn would mean that your ability to experience joy and peace is also not guaranteed. Following that logic, what happens when hardships fall upon you that force you to change your identity and way of life? What happen if you experience a chronic illness that you do not recover from or another major pitfall in your life? Does that mean you will never be happy ever again?
No, it doesn’t.
Who we truly are and our ability to feel positive emotion is something independent and far beyond our bodies, identity, and fluctuating life situation. We are powerful beings, having a human experience. We are timeless souls, whose true essence is peace, joy and love. We are pure potential and resilience and no circumstance that we come across in our life experience can ever prevent us from tapping into those states because they are innately what we are and what we are made of.
Only our own thinking prohibits those feelings from coming through.
When we realize that something shifts within us and it allows us to experience life from a different perspective and to begin truly living in gratitude, mindfulness and the awe of it all, no matter what the experience is.
I can honestly say that I’ve experienced more levels of conscience happiness and peace in my life now, having a chronic illness and being disabled, than I ever have in my life. That’s not to say that you have to go through hardships in order to feel this way, but sometimes life puts you into circumstances that nudges you in the direction where glorious self-discovery is found.
Happiness comes from within and not surroundings. When you don’t realize that you can have the most perfect life experience, but you will still suffer every day. When you tap into the love within you and understand that it all comes from within you, you can have many life challenges, but know you will always have the ability to bounce back and be okay.
Rise Above Limiting Beliefs
I’m often surprised by the reaction I receive from people at random times and in different situations when I show up somewhere with a mobility device. They assume I am suffering, depressed or unsatisfied with my life. They show concern like putting their hands on my shoulder and asking, “How are doing?” and often when I say I’m fine, they assume I’m just trying to be strong and say things like “Hang in there” or “It’s okay not to be okay”.
Here are some other reactions I’ve received and what people have said to me in those situations. Most of these have been at social events when I am simply there to celebrate and have a good time:
- Someone will start to cry and say how badly they feel for me.
- “Well, look at you, how can you be fine?”
- “Well, you must have your dark moments.”
- “I would rather die than be in a wheelchair.”
- “I don’t know how you do it.”
- “You need to stay strong for your kids.”
- “Life is so hard, especially for you.”
- Someone will give me examples of other people they know with chronic illness and/or who have died.
- No matter how I try to change the conversation, they will drive it back to me being ill or disabled.
- I’ve been randomly approached at the gym and told it isn’t the right place for me and I’m liable to get hurt.
- I’ve been offered unsolicited medical advice about everything under the sun more times than I can count and even told to go to church and receive Holy Communion.
I truly don’t hold any bad feelings against anyone, but these examples reinforce a victim way of thinking that our lives are ruined when we are faced with challenging life situations, in my case, having Multiple Sclerosis and disability and that we lose our ability to ever feel happy and fulfilled ever again.
If I believed this way of thinking I would probably spend most days stagnant and depressed at home.
The worst thing is not what others say or believe. It is if these types of conversations plant seeds in your mind, or reinforce beliefs that you have overcome, or bring to mind a way of thinking that makes you feel like your life is “bad”. Sometimes, I have even questioned myself, doubted myself, wondered if I’ve illusioned myself into thinking that my life is “good” when so many people around me appear to think it’s a tragedy. I don’t believe I have.
The perception of your life is based on your beliefs and thoughts. Our beliefs influence our thoughts, and our thoughts create our emotions. Positive thoughts create positive emotions and negative thoughts negative emotions.
For example, if you have thoughts that you are inferior, that your life is over and that you will never be happy again, and you believe them, then you will feel hopeless and depressed.
Instead, if you let those sad thoughts pass you like clouds and dwell on only the ones that make you feel good, like that you are full of potential, strong, capable, alive, etc … your perception will shift and you will begin to truly feel good, capable, appreciative and strong.
We can always choose which thoughts we dwell on.
The happier your thoughts are, the happier you are emotionally and the better you feel physically and are more in tune with your body’s natural flow.
No matter what your life situation is you always have the ability to process your thoughts in a manner to allow yourself to live empowered and have a fulfilling life.
In fact, even better, is to try and not think too much in general! Especially over thinking! Don’t think too much about the past and don’t think too much about the future but be so consumed with the present moment that you get lost in it. The more time we spend out of intellect, just being, existing free of thought, less control, more aliveness, the more our lives begin to effortlessly unfold for the better around us. The ultimate connection you can have with yourself and the universe is being fully in the present moment.
Create Your Life
Let go of the image and idea of what you thought your life should have been and meet yourself right now exactly where you are at in your life situation and accept all of it, fully loving yourself and every single aspect of your life, even the things you aren’t happy with.
It is from that place of peace, love and acceptance for yourself where the possibilities begin to unfold.
From that space of love and acceptance, get in the game of life and use your power to create the life you desire. Do what you can from what is within your control. Do what you feel passionate about. Do it healthy, ill, walking, standing, from a wheelchair or even your bed. Do it single, divorced, widowed, bankrupt or whatever else your life situation is, it doesn’t matter.
If you would like to make changes to your identity, understand that we are beings of full potential and that every passing moment is a rebirth of who we can be. Take positive action towards that.
If you feel that something isn’t possible, understand that when something is lost or ends that doesn’t mean all the avenues have been closed. Put your best foot forward, in any way you can, and take action in the direction that feels right to you. Do it with grace, ease and faith that you are on the right path. When you begin to take positive action, the next steps to take appear before you.
The key is to stay lighthearted and to keep moving forward while putting your focus and energy into the positive things in your life. The river of life is always flowing and we are just along for the swim.
You are the hero of your own story, write it.
You are the writer, director, and star of your own movie, enjoy it.
You are the miracle of life, believe it.
When I was diagnosed with MS, my life started to change and my old life didn’t meet my new life anymore, so it forced me to move, and that is what life is always about. Nobody’s life stays exactly the same all the time, and if it does, we wouldn’t really be fulfilled.
When I became disabled, my life changed some more, my career changed, the people I hung out with changed and the activities that I did changed. I was forced to mourn my old identity. I didn’t realize though, that slowly and organically, my life started to shift. As I started accepting the changes in my life, I began gravitating to a new direction. Now I find myself more in my peace of mind, happy in my career, fulfilled with my activities, appreciating the people in my life, and I have a whole new life. It wasn’t easy but it’s fine, I’m just as happy, if not happier than I’ve ever been. I am not inferring that adversity is required for positive life change, what I mean is that life will shove you in different directions but we can always find the right path for us to discover who we truly are.
Embrace the changes in your life that have fallen upon you. Work with them. The path is different for all of us but the game of life is the same for us all. There is always something to learn and new growth to experience.
With all my flaws, life challenges, grievances, hardships, moments of heartbreak and sorrow, mistakes and regrets I have still made it to this point in my life and I feel at peace with it all choosing the feeling of love and gratitude in my heart over anything else. I believe that moments of pain and happiness are one of the same and both gifts of this life experience. I try and use the energy I have to invest in my life and not complain about it.
Go through the ups and downs of the journey of life but don’t take any of it too seriously, we are all heading to the same place anyway. Lead with your heart and have faith that you’re on the right path and that your soul will always guide you home.
Written By: Anna Giannakouros