“Life is ever changing.”
That’s what my family member said to me a couple of weeks ago during a conversation we had about certain life experiences and trials. We were talking about how different life has been since the unexpected passing of someone we love, and yet at the same time how life hasn’t changed at all. That’s sort of the cruel paradox when it comes to tragedy or sudden life change isn’t it? No matter how big or how small the traumatic event, life still goes on. Responsibilities are still there. People still need taken care of. Bills still have to be paid. Problems still need to be solved. Memories still need to be made. Life still has to be lived. And often that’s the last thing we want to do when a special part of our world is suddenly gone or altered in some way .
Of course it doesn’t always happen in the form of death. Sometimes it happens in the form of someone else’s choices turning your world upside down, or watching someone you dearly love get hurt. Sometimes it’s receiving a diagnosis of some sort, losing a job, getting through divorce, or any unexpected events that change the course of your goal or dream. Maybe it’s even a change that you are actually welcoming into your life but you still feel uneasy and scared of the unknown.
Whatever life changing event you’ve experienced (or will experience), it can be extremely difficult (sometimes impossible) to pick yourself up and truly move forward in your life if you do not have perspective. Have you noticed that your brain is very good at worrying, thinking dramatic thoughts and jumping to worst case scenarios? It’s completely natural for the brain to do that because it was designed to protect us and keep us safe. That fight or flight feeling we get comes from our brain’s instinctual reaction to when we feel fear or sense danger… Which is why the brain often reacts that same way when we experience tragedy or sudden life changes. It’s just doing what comes natural to it.
So this is where the power of perspective is INCREDIBLY helpful to us!
I want to share with you 3 QUESTIONS (that I personally use) that can be so useful when you’re trying to gain and keep perspective- especially during the hard times. But also during situations when you’re just trying to help your brain chill out and take a step back to see the bigger picture.
Question #1: What do I have control over right now?
My answers to this are always the same: my thoughts and my actions. I can’t control or change what has happened, I can’t control other people, and I can’t control exactly how things will play out in the future. But I can totally govern my own thoughts and actions moving forward. And I can make sure that they are thoughts and actions that will help me show up in my life as the person I want to be. Decide what your intention is and go from there.
Question #2: What would my future self most likely tell me?
This question is powerful because we often have greater perspective later on down the road when we’re not so caught up in the middle of it. So asking this question helps me remove myself from the situation momentarily and gets me thinking about what my future perspective would be or could be. I’m telling you this is super helpful. Something that I honestly recommend is writing yourself a letter from your future self. I’ve done that numerous times and it’s very powerful. Try it! You just might be surprised at what it can do for you.
Question #3: What do I choose to learn from this experience?
I love this one. When we are going through a difficult situation, we so often hear or think “I’m sure there’s a reason”… or “I’m sure I’m supposed to learn something from this.” And that attitude isn’t a bad one by any means, but I’ve noticed that sometimes it tends to keep us waiting to see what we are “supposed” to learn from it- or it can keep us waiting and looking for the answer to “why” this happened to us. But what if YOU just decide what lesson you are going to learn from this and how you will use it in your life moving forward? What if YOU decide what it will mean for you and your future, instead of waiting to find out what’s supposed to happen next.
That’s the thing about our free agency. God gave us the ability to choose for ourselves and to co-create our lives. And that is true even in times of change, trial, tragedy or confusion. He will never take away our freedom to choose what we do with our lives. And that’s why I love these questions so much. They help me remember that gaining perspective is a choice, moving forward with faith and confidence is a choice. It might not be the easiest choice… but it is most definitely the one that brings the most peace and joy. And allows you to live your life to the fullest… even amidst the trials.
And to quote a friend- “You don’t keep your chin up because you’re trying to put on a good face during a hard time. You do it because you know what’s waiting for you ahead.”