By the sound of the invitation, I thought it was going to be a casual catch up visit. Though I had a gut intuition it might not be… that it may be a conversation with an agenda on the part of my visitor under the guise of “I’m in town and I’d like to visit with you.”
Sure enough, once the niceties were exchanged and the family updates were had, it began. What sounded for a nanosecond like a compliment quickly became apparent it was a highly judgmental comment “during what must be a horrible time for me…”
And while I am going through an ongoing significant life challenge at the moment, I decided long ago- it would not define me, and it would be something that I would prayerfully choose to get through with the help of God and my amazing tribe of family and (emotionally safe) friends.
I have been very intentional about removing the people in my life who bring manipulation, misery, toxicity, condemnation, uninvited criticalness, negativity and boundary busting behaviors.
I am someone who has worked hard on my mental / emotional health, my brain health and my physical and spiritual health. That is my journey. That has been my journey for some time now.
Our environment matters. Our circumstances matter. We are affected by both. With that said, how we choose to think about and interpret our circumstances matters even more.
In the mental health field, of which I am part of, we call this “how we color events.”.
This bears repeating: what happens TO us matters, HOW WE CHOOSE TO THINK ABOUT IT, matters more.
I took a good amount of time to grieve, and to strengthen my relationships with family and friends. In my past life, it was incredibly difficult for me to reach out when or if I needed support, prayer, or comfort.
I am happy to say that I have done enough of my own personal work to lean into safe people and to enjoy extraordinarily beautiful relationships with family and friends.
I am intentional about the following - all of which have contributed to my resilience and joyful spirit.
What I eat- because I know foods closer to nature are nourishing and life giving
When I work out- because I know moving my body daily strengthens my body and brain
What I read- because I know what I allow in my mind and heart matters greatly
Who I choose to spend time with- I know people can zap your energy or add to it
What environment I am in- I know that lots of time outside and in nature is lifegiving
The work I do- I know it is fulfilling my purpose and it allows me to use my God given gifts
How I spend time spiritually- I know that being in the word strengthens my spirit
How grateful I am - I know that practicing gratitude daily is perspective changing
How I spend time- I know it is fleeting, finite and precious and not to be wasted
How I manage stress- With awareness and ability to focus on what I can control
How I challenge myself- Learning, growing and trying new things even when fearful
How I choose to forgive- knowing forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling
How I deal with finances- making wise and thoughtful decisions that align with my goals
How I engage with my past self- with love, compassion, and kindness for what she’s endured
How I see my future self- Open, curious, pursuing passions and my calling(s), grateful, hopeful
How I show up for myself- my self talk is accurate, kind, and encouraging
How I show up for others- considering their needs, being curious, giving however I am able
Is it possible to be well and still be in the midst of adverse circumstances? I have known people who are and have first hand experience that our circumstances do not have to define us as we go through them -or later as we heal and move past them.
If we think of our lives as a journey- much like a book with many chapters- we can be open and curious about how this chapter can look now, and how it may end. We can choose a child like curiosity about what the next chapters may bring. And we can redefine what success looks like.
Experiencing the depths of sadness, fear, condemnation and misery is part of the human experience. Allowing ourselves time and space to feel the emotion of all of that is an important step towards healing and wholeness.
I have learned to sit in stillness with my discomfort and I have experienced tremendous joy in quiet solitude as well.
No matter what you are going through, how significant the trial currently feels, there is so much you can control, especially learning how to love yourself and others through it.
By being intentional, compassionate, grateful and making it a priority to take care of you, it is possible to be well in the midst of adverse circumstances.
As my visitor delivered a condemning comment, I was reminded of the opportunity to demonstrate boundaries delivered with compassion.
Because in the end, I choose love.