The journey through life has many challenges and obstacles along the way. The thing I learned as I hurtled through hoops to heal from my trauma is that there are blessings and lessons in every situation. In the moment of stress, frustration, anger and overwhelm our bodies react with the stress response. We develop tunnel vision, our heart races, we experience triggers, pain or a variety of symptoms. At that moment the lesson or blessing is not visible. We can’t see it because our eyes are literally tight, tense and constricted. We can’t feel it because our senses are overstimulated and overwhelmed. It is a protective mechanism to get out of a dangerous situation. But it happens even in non-life threatening situations because our body has memory. The blessing or lesson may not even come for days, weeks or months after the event is over because we likely are dealing with physical repercussions of the stress we faced. But when the stress fades, the eyes relax, the body settles and the mind clears, there is always an opportunity to reflect on those challenges and identify the blessing and lesson in each situation.
It may not be the easy way out because it requires a little effort on our part and acceptance of the past but it is better than brushing it under the rug while you wait for the next challenge to come. If you choose to brush it under the rug, that is your option, but know that when you do, life will once again bring you a similar challenge to guide you towards the lesson. The more you ignore the opportunity to find the blessing and the lesson, the more challenges you face. It happened to me countless times over my 13 year healing journey. And over the past few years when I was deep in healing my trauma and feeling a heightened stress response, it was not always easy to slow down and learn from my experiences. But it would have taken exponentially longer to get back here to writing on paper again, had I not learned the lessons, evolved through them and expressed gratitude for the blessings from each situation.
But exactly, how do you find the blessings and lessons in situations? How do you know when to reflect? The simple fact is everything, even the random things in life have meaning. Everything has a lesson, though some lessons might be expansive and some may be small. How do you slow down and tune in to the lesson? Well that is easy. Mindfulness, meditation, stretch, sitting in nature, deep breathing, feeling the sensations in your body, clearing your thoughts, star gazing, cloud watching, or any other activity that literally slows down your mind and body enough for you to let go of the to do lists and just reflect.
Years ago I was faced with health issues that placed me in a predicament with a colleague that gave me a hard time and tried to compromise my career. But a blessing came from that situation at the same time my doctor told me it was critical for my health to leave the bedside and find a different nursing job. At that moment, I was upset, angry and stressed but when the dust settled it turned out to be in my best interest to move on. And my boss offered me a desk job that eventually turned into a virtual nursing job that gave me an opportunity to really dig deep, write and heal my trauma at home. But had that challenge not come my way, the opportunity would not have come either. You have probably experienced something similar or even heard a story from a friend that also ended in a positive light. That is the blessing and the lesson in the situation.
A friend shared a story with me recently that fits this topic perfectly. Have you ever been offered something that fell through and found out later it was in your best interest? Well this is the story. My friend applied for a job. The company was raving and excited for her to join. But life kept getting in the way. She was on vacation when they wanted to finalize and things just didn’t fall into place. And it turned out that the company froze the position and later laid off the team she was meant to join. If she hadn’t honored her own wishes and enjoyed her vacation, she may have been stuck in a bad situation. But since she slowed down, smelled the roses and enjoyed her life, everything fell into place.
Have you ever applied for something that wasn’t exactly right for you and later found a different job that was even better? This recently happened to me too. I was eyeing a position to transition into a new role but life and work moved on and it fell off my radar. I spoke to my son about his college prospects and we both agreed we both liked University of Miami. And the conversation peaked an old interest I had always had to see if there was an opportunity to teach there. And this literally happened like magic. I called an old friend, she sent an email, the next day I had an interview and by the end of the meeting I had the job. It happened in the course of 3 days. But finally I was getting back in line with the dreams I had before I decided to delve deep into my trauma. After a few weeks I reached out to my friend at the position I had been seeking and it turned out someone was hired and I never got a chance to apply. But had I applied, this teaching opportunity may never have occurred. So follow the current of life. Embrace the challenges. And find the lessons along the way.
The random experiences in life are very interesting and intriguing. And those usually give you quick clues or tips for your next step. Maybe you run into an old friend on the way home when you decide to stop somewhere you never go. And they tell you a story that helps you make a decision later in the day. That was not random. That was God sending you a sign. I literally met a family friend at a distant grocery store and experienced a great conversation about an old trip. And it gave me some insights for an upcoming vacation I was planning.
Maybe you have a crazy puppy like mine that steals your shoes. And she steals 1 new perfect leather sandal and destroys it. And a week later your husband gets you a new pair and your bedroom door is open. And she gets in the closet and grabs a second shoe and destroys it. And after the stress melts, you calm down and you analyze the situation, you realize everything is fine. Because last week she broke the old right shoe. And this week she broke the new left shoe. Leaving you with an interesting set of shoes that look exactly the same. One is old and one is new but they both work the same and look the same. And now you can step forward into your life knowing that even when things are broken, they aren’t always lost, they are not always dreadful and there can be a miracle at the end of the journey.
So the next time your life throws you a curve ball or your body literally stops you in your tracks with a symptom. After the dust settles, the stress clears and the overwhelm fades. Take the time to slow down, reflect on your day, your week, your year and notice if something good came out of a difficult situation. And maybe next time you won’t fall back into old patterns and let your dog eat your shoes or miss out on a magical opportunity just within your reach.