Note from Kate
I make a point of paying attention to anyone who appears graceful under fire. There is so much to learn from people who are able to stay positive in difficult situations. I’m not talking about people who use positive thinking as a way to skirt or deny difficulty. I’m talking about people who are able to deeply accept the reality of a difficult situation and make the choice to move in the most positive direction available.
This week I offer a story from my life that gave me serious practice in accepting the reality of a difficult situation and remaining positive in the face of it.
Staying Positive in the Harder Times
One year ago, a former client decided that she did not want to pay after taking my whole program and even writing a positive testimonial. She filed a complaint against me with the licensing board saying that I had coerced her into taking the program.
This was a fantastic act of vengeance. The licensing board does not require those who file a complaint to submit proof of misconduct or payment for the investigation. Once filed, the complaint must be investigated. The person being investigated – also known as the licensee – must then prove their innocence through excessive documentation and often with expensive legal support. Further, the licensee cannot seek repayment because it can be interpreted as retaliation.
A couple weeks ago, the board dismissed the claim. Their investigation proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the complaint was an act of a desperate person trying not to pay. I’ve finally completed the extensive paperwork that I needed to file to end this investigation and it has made me wonder:
What was it that helped me make it though this challenging experience with relative ease?
It’s one thing to be positive when everything is going OK. It’s another thing to keep a positive attitude when the going gets tough.
To be honest, when this complaint was first filed I panicked. I felt like my survival was put in jeopardy. I watched my mind race to find a solution. I got angry. I felt like a victim. I felt guilty. I wanted to hide. I went right into the heart of negativity. My response was so extreme that when I took a step back and observed myself I realized – it’s REALLY unhealthy to feel like this. I needed to do something. So I asked myself: Kate, what do you really know?
What I know is that it’s not about what happens in life – it’s about how you deal with it. And, how you deal with it makes a huge impact on the outcome.
Put It in Perspective
I remember reading this book right before I had my son called “How to Raise Capable People.” In the book, the author said that if no real negative outcome came out of a child’s request, then you should let them do it. So, for example, if your child wants to go outside without a coat, let them. If they eventually get cold, they’ll put a coat on. This had a profound impact on me. I started looking at situations in my life to see whether a situation truly had a negative impact or if I imagined that the impact would be negative.
When my former client filed a complaint against me, I immediately perceived that my livelihood was threatened. I thought about whether or not this was true and it turns out that it wasn’t. I had held onto my license for the benefit of a couple clients. Yet, in reality all of my work was outside the medical model. Even if I was found guilty, the licensing board’s decision would not directly effect my business. Once I put the situation in perspective, I was able to remove a layer of stress and begin to respond proactively.
But, what if this hadn’t been the case. What if the outcome of the investigation had a really horrible impact on some aspect of my life? In this case, I would want an accurate view of the potential consequences so that I could explore what I could do to limit the negative impact. I could even re-frame my thinking to see the positive things that might result from this forced change of direction.
When navigating a difficult situation, the most important thing is to stay in the clearest and truest part of yourself. At its best, personal development work helps you tune into and connect with a deeper part of yourself. In this deeper part, you see things for what they truly are. When we are connected to this part of ourselves we know that even if things are difficult now, everything will ultimately be OK. We’re able to remember that things that look bad in one light, might actually look good in another light.
This clarity is important because it helps us make the best possible choice in a difficult situation and not react out of fear. When we stay with our clarity, our perspective broadens. In fact, we see our possibilities for solution expand rather than contract.
Practice Compassion and Forgiveness
While I dealt with this issue throughout this year, I went through times where I was angry. However, I knew that indulging my desire to blame would not serve me. In fact, every moment that I spent angry or blaming others kept me embroiled in a situation that was the opposite of what I wanted to create in my life.
Staying positive does a great deal to stop the cycle of harm. The bottom line is that hurt people do hurtful things. We all harbor stories about how other people have wronged us. Yet, a glimpse from their perspective might make their actions more understandable. We can hold onto our stories to insure that we feel in the right. Or we can let go of our stories and offer compassion and forgiveness for those who have wronged us. Ultimately, the latter creates a much happier and more positive life.
We are so quick to judge the events of our life. There are the things that we want to have happen and the things we do not want to have happen. There are the good things and the bad things. Right?
It all really depends on where you stop the story. If you look at all of the difficult events of your life as the final result of your actions then you are doomed to meaninglessness and failure. If on the other hand, you view your end results when something positive happens, you life and actions are meaningful and productive.
The easy and difficult are inevitable. The good and bad are inevitable. No one has a life full of all good things or of all bad things –we all get a mix.
So what are you going to choose today?
Your back aches, your coffee’s luke warm, or you fall behind schedule.
There are myriad things that can and will go wrong every single day of your life. (And hey — there’s also plenty that goes right, so keep track of that, too.)
Many of us allow one sour moment to spoil what would have otherwise been a perfectly sweet day. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are simple — really simple — ways to keep your stress in check and stop agonizing over the inevitable.
“We’re living in a society where we think the answers have to be really complicated,” says Kathy Gruver, Ph.D., author of “Conquer Your Stress With Mind/Body Techniques.” “We tend to complicate our own lives, but things can be ridiculously simple — and still work.” The next time there’s a bump in the road, remember a few of the mental tricks below to help yourself smoothly redirect back on course.
Just. Stop. Thinking. About. It. Certain pain, like an aching back, feels impossible to ignore. But agonizing over what hurts won’t help you to feel any better. Instead, you’re just suffering twice (once in your head, once in your back). “You have the choice to think about something else,” says Gruver, which is a somewhat shockingly simple truth. Just. Stop.
Focus on the breath.
“Breathing is so cool because it happens automatically and it’s something we can control,” Gruver says. Breath concentration works anywhere and it gives you something positive to focus on. Gruver suggests thinking “I am,” on your inhale and “at peace” on your exhale. This technique it powerful: It overrides negative thoughts and redirects your focus. “It’s hard to stop thinking things, but it’s easy to replace those thoughts with something else.”
Don’t beat yourself up if stress-inducing thoughts creep their way in.
It’s normal and natural for this to happen, but judging yourself for it sort of defeats the purpose of the practice. Gruver says to dismiss these thoughts without judging yourself for having them, and carry on.
Visualize something that doesn’t make you anxious.
“Visualization gives you control and can help decrease your pain.” Visualize anything from your favorite vacation spot when you’re feeling on edge to your body actually healing itself when you’re experiencing physical pain. “The more real you can make it, the more it’s going to work.” The doctor herself visualizes a “little construction worker” moving around her body, working to mend and heal her whenever she feels achy or sick.
Use cues to remind you to be mindful.
“Mindfulness isn’t about setting time aside and sitting on the pillow for meditation,” says the practitioner. “Mindfulness is about making your everyday activity a meditation.” There are times when the practice of being mindful seems to slip our minds, and we get caught up in the heat of the moment. In these cases, it can be helpful to use “mindful cues” to bring us back to center. Whether it’s an alarm on your phone, an app that reminds you to breathe or even the laugh of your colleague that you choose to associate with being present, setting these little reminders will prevent the chaos of the day from becoming too much to bear.
Rely on a someone you trust.
When you want to start making changes, ask a confidant to be a gentle reminder. If you want to stop complaining about your boss, mention it to someone you’re close to. He’s more likely to catch — and stop — you in the act. It’s a system that’ll keep you in check when you react to a stressful situation rather than respond to it.
reblogged from The Huffington Post