I am a good girl. I have always prided myself in following the rules, doing what others expect of me, and keeping my word. Maybe that’s why it’s been so hard to swallow when life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would. How could my ex-boyfriend have deceived me like he did, when I was nothing but kind, generous and loving to him? How could my boss suggest I could do better at my job when she assigned me the workload of three employees and I was already working 80 hours a week for a 40-hour-a-week salary? Why did I develop an addiction to alcohol when I was just trying to go along with the crowd and be a fun girl and relax a little bit? I’ve often had the thought, “I’ve done everything that everyone has ever asked of me, and more. How could this be happening?”
On any given day we may be met with disease, bankruptcy, divorce, addiction, or even death. We can also be faced with less serious but perhaps more annoying and persistent challenges like annoying in-laws, irritating coworkers, demanding bosses, overbearing teachers or a spouse who can’t seem to make it to dinner on time. To add insult to injury, it often seems as if the terrible things in our lives snowball and pile up. As if it isn’t enough to deal with the news that your kid has a learning disability, suddenly you find yourself facing the reality of your parents’ declining health and an increase in hours (without an accompanying increase in pay) at work.
It can seem very overwhelming and meaningless. As sentient beings, we humans crave meaning and purpose in our lives. When we can’t find the meaning, we suffer.
“Why me? Why do these terrible things keep happening to me?” These are questions we hear and ask often. When we pose questions like this, we are clearly suffering because of seemingly unfair life circumstances. But what if our life circumstances aren’t unfair at all?
What if bad things happen to you because you chose them?
What would happen if we act as if we chose the very obstacles that seemed to insidiously creep into our lives?
This very question was posed by life coach Diana Tulumba on a Facebook live video yesterday morning. In her thoughtful (and hilarious) live video, Diana offered this suggestion, “I think that if we act like we chose our lives, and we chose the meaning, we can be happier.”
Is she right? Would we be happier if we acted like we chose our lives and the meaning?
The simple idea that we can act as if we chose all the messy stuff in our lives is incredibly empowering to me. If we do, in fact, want, invite and welcome all these medical, financial and personal obstacles into our lives, then we can ask really empowering questions, like:
- “What do I want to learn from this?”
- “How can this help me grow in my career/personal life/family?”
- “How does this fit in with my soul curriculum?”
I attended a phenomenally healing women’s retreat with life coach and author Christine Hassler in early March. We talked often at the retreat about our soul curriculum and using what life throws at us as opportunities to grow. Christine counseled us to change our question, Why is this happening to me? to the much more empowered and helpful question, Why is this happening for me?
“Our soul chooses our set up,” Christine said. “Soul evolution is about remembering the truth of who you are.”
What is your truth?
If you were to look back at your life right now with the perspective that you chose your circumstances, how would you see things differently?
What lessons have you missed because you’ve been distracted by injustice, pain or fear?
Of course, it’s possible that the concept of choosing our life curriculum is hogwash. It could be that life is completely random and nothing happens for any reason at all. Regardless, I know that when I believe that I chose my life, I am happier. I am more peaceful, more accepting, more empowered and more eager to look for the lessons and really make sure I get every morsel of meaning out of all that life presents me with. When I think life is random and unfair, I am bitter, closed off, fearful, resentful, angry, depressed, and anxious. I blame everyone and everything other than myself for my anger and despair. I point fingers. I ridicule. I judge. I’m not a pleasant person to be around! If I have to choose (or if I get to choose), I choose to believe that we do pick our lives. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant. How I feel, think and act is what matters.
When we have preconceived notions about the unfairness of something (“I don’t deserve to get cancer!”) we close ourselves off to the reality of the situation, the acceptance that can accompany it, and the possibilities that the Universe has in store for us.
If we want to evolve, there is no excuse for playing the victim. Our self-pity can keep us from learning the lessons we chose to learn in this lifetime. And that, it seems to me, would be a terrible waste.
We don’t have to act as if we are victims of our life circumstances. We can act as if we hand selected each and every challenge, and then squeeze every bit of wisdom and growth we can get out of each circumstance. That seems like an incredibly empowered way to live a life.