“Life is simple. Everything happens FOR you, not TO you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment; neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it…it’s just easier if you do.” ~Byron Katie
This quote is my favourite ever. My last few years have been kind of interesting. I haven’t experienced anything super traumatic or horrific. But when a few difficult things started happening all at once, I became a little overwhelmed. It allowed me to pay attention to my thoughts and what was going on inside of my messy, monkey brain.
For most of my life, I was on autopilot; out there trying to do my best, wanting to prove my worth to the world, looking for validation, love and happiness from other people and my circumstances. I believed that we met people for a reason and things happened to us for a reason. I still believe that is true but I used to put a different meaning on it. I used to believe that we met people so that we could have friends to support us, strong business connections and romantic relationships to fulfill our lives and make us feel loved, useful and wanted. I used to believe that we worked hard in school and in our careers to prove to people that we were capable and important. I used to believe that circumstances happened because stuff happens to everyone and that life was hard and that sometimes it wasn’t fair and would often think, why me? Why is this happening to me?
Because You’re Human, Duh
After a few years of things happening TO me, I began to shift my thinking around the fact that maybe it was all happening FOR me. I didn’t come to that conclusion easily. It took a few moments of hitting rock bottom, reaching out for help, getting some therapy and reading a lot of self-help books.
It wasn’t a ‘one day I woke up and had an epiphany’ moment. I wish! It has been an ongoing journey. What has begun to shift for me is; instead of feeling sorry for myself and thinking ‘Why is this happening to me?’ ‘Life is so unfair!’, ‘People are hurtful’, ‘How could they do that to me??’ and of course ‘How dare they!!’ Maybe I was causing my own pain with my own thoughts and false beliefs about why life happens the way it does.
I figured there had to be a better way. I was so sick of myself! I was tired of living like I was a victim of this horrifying painful world full of people who leave you and let you down and nothing ever turning out the way you want it to. It was exhausting. Luckily things got bad enough that I had no choice but to desperately want to find that better way.
I don’t think we have to hit rock bottom to have this shift in perception. I wish I hadn’t hit rock bottom first, I think we can learn this lesson anytime.
Rock bottom is different for everyone…mine was simply not feeling like I’d done as much as I ‘shoulda coulda’ with my life. I was divorced, transitioning careers, caring for a widowed aging father and in a relationship with someone I loved very much but our logistics were very challenging causing some communication breakdowns. Stuff everyone goes through. And it’s only human that life can start getting to you you down, right? I figured I could stuck it up and keep plugging away.
The Universe kept knocking at my door. One day for a seemingly minor issue, I completely lost my cool, like embarrassingly lost my cool! I knew I needed help in that moment. I went to a psychiatrist that after half an hour of hearing my story, prescribed an anti-depressant. I filled the prescription, took one and panicked. I told the doctor I just couldn’t do it. It just didn’t feel right and I don’t judge it, it just wasn’t for me. So I turned to yoga, meditation and self help books. I was determined to take a good look inside, dig deep and find out what was really going on.
Not Quite There Yet, Hilary
Well things did improve, I’m happy to report. I developed a more positive outlook on why things happened and that I wasn’t the victim of my circumstances. I chose to be happy despite what was going on around me. I got my career back on track and decided to make my relationship work with the man I loved. That worked for a bit…but obviously the Universe wanted to make sure I really did shift my perception!
My Dad became very ill and I was looking after him full time, so career back on hold. Communications were breaking down in my relationship. I was a mess and I started to feel sorry for myself again. I believed that no one was there for me. I felt totally alone in all of this. My Dad passed away and my relationship ended and I had barely worked in six months. So I’m feeling all alone with no job and pushing 50! Ugh. I was angry and in my self pitying moments, I thought:
How dare you take my Dad away and leave me alone to deal with everything
How dare that I’m the only one that has to take care of everything because my brothers live far away.
How dare this all happen when I was just getting my career back on track!
How dare my boyfriend fight with me while I was going through this!
How dare my friends have lives!
How dare no one sees how much pain I’m in!
How dare no one knows how lonely this life is!
How dare the world let me down in so many ways!
This could have gotten ugly but I knew better than to go down this path. I knew none of this was true. It was my own thoughts getting in my way and making my pain and anger worse. I knew that it was my interpretation and beliefs about the situation that was causing my pain, not what was really happening. It was happening for me and there was no one or no thing to blame for any of it.
Choose A New Way of Looking At It
I accepted that I was angry and feeling sorry for myself. I forgave myself for it but only when I acknowledged the anger and pain. I had to really embraced it in order to move through it. Maybe the world wasn’t really out to get me??
I lost my Dad. However he was very sick and unhappy that he couldn’t live like he used to and he was so lonely without my Mom. I was able to look back from a different perspective and believe that I did my best. I was there for him and I had no regrets. Instead of blaming the world for his illness. Instead of resenting the countless hours spent looking after him. Instead of believing that this all caused problems in my relationship and my career, I was able to look back and be grateful that I could be there for him. I can be grateful for the career interrupt, as I would still be doing something I didn’t love. And I no longer blamed my friends and boyfriend for not being there enough when my Dad was sick and passed away. I could genuinely let that go and know the truth is that my friends and boyfriend were there for me as best as they could be. They did their best for me because they love me and I could find gratitude for everyone who cared. And they actually do have their own lives and families to take care of! If feels good seeing the truth instead of talking yourself into negative belief patterns that aren’t based in reality.
I choose to believe that yes, people come into your life for a reason and things happen to you for a reason but it’s not a punishment; the world is not out to get you. Sometimes it’s just about not judging the moment and not putting your own meaning on it. Shift your perception to look at these life challenges from a higher perspective.
I believe that the Universe has plans for you that may not seem like what you want or need at the time, but believing things are happening for you, sure does make life more bearable. Look for the gift in everything and if you can’t find it, one day you’ll realize that everything happens for you and not to you.