We’ve had some beautiful glimpses of spring in recent days, but today it’s a stormy March day, complete with wind warnings and power outages. It makes me think of the “perfect storm” that sometimes crops up in life when multiple circumstances bring us to a place of severe upset and turmoil. The kind of storm that happens when you lose your job, your pet, and your spouse all in the same week. No one is immune to the surprise storms of life, so the question then becomes: how are you going to deal with it? The best preparation for dealing with these storms is to have a strong sense of self, firm beliefs about what you want in life and how to manifest these things, and a strong enough sense of faith or hope to help you hang on until the wind calms down and the sun comes out again. People often come for counselling during these life storms, and a counsellor can hold the space of hope for the client when the client is feeling hopeless. But an even better method of coping is to prepare yourself to weather a storm before the storm comes. This can also be done with the help of a counsellor, as you work on your personal growth and on finding the strong center within you. It is a good idea for anyone to have a number of people in mind who will be there for you when times get rough. If you have even a few people you can truly count on, you are doing well with maintaining a supportive social network. Sometimes these people are family members, sometimes friends, sometimes professionals such as counsellors, career coaches, massage therapists, or other healers. Please take a moment to think about who you would turn to if the perfect storm cropped up in your life right now. You might even want to write down a list, because sometimes when the storm comes, shock sets in and you can’t think clearly. Think of it as the emotional equivalent of a kit you might keep in your home or car for emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, or snowstorms. I wish you a beautiful life, free of storms. But if you find yourself in a storm, please reach out for help. No one has to go it alone.
Worldwide, a current shift in awareness is moving people in a more consciously loving direction. We are being encouraged to conduct our daily interactions from a love-based perspective instead of a fear-based perspective. Some people say that everything can be seen as falling along a spectrum somewhere between pure love and pure fear, with an infinite number of increments in between.
The challenge comes when our love-based actions are not met with similar love-based responses from others. In most cases, this is because the other person is acting from deeply ingrained patterns of fear, which may manifest as jealousy, greed, manipulation, or even hatred. Unfortunately, the person who responds in such a way may seek to “take advantage” of you when you come from a love-based perspective. To clarify, I think of love-based perspectives as kindness, generosity, acceptance, and good intentions. Because not all people are ready to embrace a love-based perspective, we still need to protect ourselves from the fear-based actions of others.
It is an interesting time in the evolving collective consciousness of humanity. Awareness seems to be rising exponentially. Those of us who have learned to trust in a love-based perspective must still function in a world where others have not quite caught up yet. Perhaps the best way to protect yourself from the fear-based actions of others is to let go of attachment to interactions with those people, whenever possible, and to remember that love and respect for yourself sometimes must take precedence. Give yourself the gift of freedom from thoughts that drag you down to another person’s level. When you catch yourself wishing pain upon someone who has caused you pain, notice the thought, understand that it is your natural instinct for self-preservation that created the thought, then let it go. Shift your thinking toward positive interactions with positive people who share your love-based perspective. Love, in its essence, is just pure positive energy. It is an incredibly powerful force, which is why people are often uncomfortable receiving it, or even talking about it. Learn to trust in it, and it will protect you.
Egos are ugly things. They are also deceptive things. They appear when we feel vulnerable, offering us the promise of protection. But the protection they provide is really just an ugly mask. Next time you notice yourself wearing the ugly mask of ego, remind yourself that the more beautiful you is behind the mask. Allow yourself to drop the mask and see what beautiful things happen.
Many of us are familiar with a phrase from the Hippocratic Oath that doctors are expected to abide by, which translates to: “First, do no harm.” We expect our doctors to prioritize the avoidance of harm, yet we often harm ourselves. We forget to apply this wisdom to ourselves in spite of the fact that it has been honoured by physicians for 2500 years. We all struggle with temptations to participate in behaviours that harm us. This can involve something as simple as choosing unhealthy foods, or as complicated as multiple substance addictions or frequent high-risk behaviours. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t occasionally give in to the temptation to consume something unhealthy, something that harms. We are faced with a multitude of choices every single day, and nobody makes good choices 100 percent of the time. But perhaps if we remember the time-honoured wisdom “First, do no harm“ then we will make healthy choices more often.
Many of us grow up in an environment of fear, worry, and pessimism. Sometimes these negative thoughts and feelings are overt, while other times they are more subtle. Children are remarkably sensitive and perceptive to their parents’ outlooks on the various challenges that life presents. As we grow up, we pick up patterns of pessimism and negative thinking without even realizing it. Some fortunate people grow up in homes where optimism predominates, but the majority of us have to learn to make a conscious choice to adopt optimistic outlooks in our adult lives. The good news is that optimism can be learned. Optimistic people generally attain and maintain better mental health and better emotional health than their pessimistic counterparts. To learn more about improving mental and emotional wellness through learning patterns of optimistic thinking, I recommend reading Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D.
The original meaning of “suffering” was “passing through.” What I like about this archaic definition is that it indicates movement. Keep in mind that whatever you are suffering, you are also moving through. You will find something on the other side. With focus, you can create a better reality on the other side of whatever you are currently suffering through.