“Peace from agitation only comes after agitation.” Taoist saying
When crisis or disorder overwhelms us we sometimes default into “survival” mode- doing whatever we can just to survive, looking for solutions to fix it. This of course is a perfectly valid approach. Yet it may not bring about the change we want to really move forward in life. A complementary route may be to look for the blessings in disguise, and to create new opportunities for our next chapters- transforming the old and dysfunctional into something new and more worthy.
As survivors we may have moved through the physical realities of adversity but not yet reconciled mentally and emotionally with what’s happened. This often occurs when we start viewing life as “unjust” or “unfair”. We keep the bonds to our tragedies alive, and often keep fighting what may have already turned into paper tigers.
I often say to my clients that difficult times in their lives are a precursor to happiness and gratitude. I believe it’s very hard to be truly grateful unless we’ve been through some kind of adversities and hardship. Part of it is earning the fruit of our labours, and another is knowing that we’ve made it through- not just relief but the knowledge that we had strength maybe we didn’t think we possessed. In times like these we often become especially grateful to the people who have accompanied us on our journey, and are still with us at the other end of it. We may even become more grateful for life in general.
So how do we move through personal tragedies with grace? Is it possible to start over without the ongoing feelings of regret, disappointment or grief? Can we look at adversities as opportunities to create anew?
Sometimes it helps connecting with other people who are or were able to do exactly that. One of my personal heroes and inspirations is Maya Angelou. Every time I read one of her autobiographies I am simply gobsmacked. How could she get through so much- rape, violence and racism just to name a few?
To me, the common theme is that she masterfully created new beginnings throughout her life. Whenever she found that she had compromised who she really was, she’d get up and start over again. Relentlessly. Never afraid to leave an old, dysfunctional part of her identity behind, no matter how familiar- to start something new, inspiring and usually very scary.
To highlight some of her wit, uniqueness and beauty, here’s a little Youtube video of her reciting her poem ‘And I Still Rise’. It is beautiful.
So whatever it is that you are facing or have faced in your own story of life, and however your 2016 has kicked off, I hope this inspires you to a fresh start. In the past 15 years I’ve been in practice I’ve seen so many people get back on their feet- no matter how compromised they were by poor health, finances, support network, age etc- and it has always started with a determined spark and will to do so. Maya Angelou is not unique in this way, and just maybe she can inspire us all to find that spark within ourselves.