Life is a process not a destination, and so we find ourselves at different times for different reasons in the crossroads of transition. “Living the Big Stuff” will cast a light on this path to help you to develop the mindset to embrace “what is” and take steps in moving forward on a path of transformation as you return to joy.
The big stuff of life embraces all of it! It includes the grand life-events that bring us great joy: Weddings, graduations, the birth of our children, and such. And, “living the big stuff” also means moving through life transitions brought on by adversity, heartbreak, and our necessary as well as unnecessary losses. When it’s smooth sailing, appreciate it with tremendous gratitude because you just don’t know when you’re going to hit stormy seas. Sometimes, life throws us a curve ball and one of my favorite Richard Carlson quotes is: “The circumstances of your life don’t make or break you, they reveal who you are.”
We don’t always get to choose what happens to us, or what happens to the people we love; many circumstances can change our lives. Many life situations can present us with difficulty that alters our life plans, too. For instance, when someone we love dies or becomes ill, or we lose our job, then, our worlds can be pulled apart. While some of our cumulative life choices will affect our health, we don’t consciously choose to become ill, but we may find ourselves in the Doctor’s office receiving bad news. We have people like our children and our parents as they age to care for on a daily basis even though we may be going through emotional crises. We may have an accident and this requires us to alter the manner in which we live. There are times we may be in the throes of addiction; either we ourselves are in recovery or we are assisting someone we care about. These things happen to all of us, and the challenge is to move forward with resiliency and grace. Charles Darwin said: “It’s not the strongest that will survive. It’s those whom are the most adaptable to change.”
Embracing change isn’t easy for most people. Our egos create the need for us to have control over our lives and hence the illusion that we do. Truth is, the only real control we have, in the face of adversity, is how we to move forward. Life is a process, not a destination and the path to healing starts here:
The first step: Accessing your Inner Courage
You must, first, be willing to step into your life and that can bring up understandable fear of the unknown. To overcome your fear, I want you to remember a time when you had tremendous courage. I mean really think back in your entire repertoire of memories to a time where you know you changed the direction of your life or someone else’s life by the choice you made in the moment. We’ve all done many things, big and small that reflect courage. Spend some time in reflection of this experience, and journal it. Feel it again, vividly, experiencing in your body all that you did when your fight or flight mechanism kicked you into full gear of choice. When you chose to do this courageous act, you made the difference. Life could have turned out quite differently, right? The same is true for your life now as you access the courage you need to step into life as it is.
Step Two: Becoming the Victor
When my beloved husband of twenty-five years suddenly died from a pulmonary embolism on a flight to New York, my life changed with a phone call. Within 48 hours of this horrific news, I sat down and had a talk with myself. I said: “Kris, this is going to go one of two ways for you. You will stand in what you have been given, even though you hate this, because you know that this has shown up to teach you something big. You have been greatly blessed, but now, you have just entered your graduate soul work curriculum.”
When you are in a fork in road of transition, there are just two mindset paths: The Victim or Victor. The Victim decides to avoid pain and to numb out allowing adversity to steal vital life energy that could otherwise transform negative circumstances. If you are not able to access the courage you need to lean into your situation, you may feel broken by life without any conviction that you will come out the other side whole and complete. The Victor says: “I will play the hand that has been dealt to me even though I know it may be difficult and painful, and I will accept what has been given to me as my life 101 soul-work curriculum. I will overcome these undesirable circumstances and learn from them.”
When you enter into a transformation process and embrace change with an open-heart ready to step in and move forward; you will overcome. As you open to transformation, you will heal and become stronger, wiser, and more ready to live fully in your authentic expression. Most importantly, you will return to joy. The only problems that you can’t overcome are the ones that kill you. (I haven’t encountered any of those—yet.)
As I’ve overcome tragedy, I can honestly say, “I don’t sweat the small stuff because I am living the big stuff.”
© 2013. All rights reserved. Kristine Carlson.