I just had a conversation this morning with a dear friend that is going through some difficult times. She made an error in judgment and her life changed in the blink of an eye. There will be short and long term repercussions, none of which will be pleasant.
Yesterday, I asked a friend how she was doing. She said her life “was in shambles”. She has a three year old daughter and is seven months pregnant. Her husband has decided he doesn’t want to be married anymore.
I received a phone call this week from the parent of a student to tell me about a diagnosis of a rare form of cancer, just 200 cases per year. Surgery is scheduled over spring break.
I believe that we may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. It’s a lesson I’ve learned through some of the challenging times I’ve faced. It’s a truth that is reinforced every day as I experience more of life.
I know people that are negative, angry, judgmental and pessimistic. They fall in to victim mode when faced with adversity, blaming others and wallowing in self pity. They usually are not very successful at getting through the challenge because they are too busy feeling sorry for themselves and trying to find someone to blame. They flail away, digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole. Frankly they are not very pleasant to be around because they want to bring those around them down to their negative level. I make a conscious effort to stay away from them; I don’t like the environment they choose to live in. And it is a choice.
We all know that there are going to be some bumps in our road, some unpleasant twists and turns in our life journey. We will experience agony and ecstasy, tragedy and joy in our lives. Now, maybe we try to hide this fact from ourselves, but the truth is bad things happen to good people. Sometimes we contribute to the occurrence, sometimes it just seems to pop out of nowhere.
Resiliency is the ability to cope with those things. It’s our ability to bounce back after being knocked down.
If you have been reading my blogs, you know about my friend Benita. She died a few weeks ago after battling cancer for five very long years. And this woman did battle; she fought the cancer with chemo, radiation, surgery. She stayed alive when the doctors told her it was not possible. She was a warrior in the truest definition of the word. She faced pain and hopelessness every day, every moment. Yet she continued to be positive and optimistic.
She didn’t fall into victim based thinking. She accepted the diagnosis, which she couldn’t control. And then she proceeded to deal with the challenge in a positive and optimistic way. Not to say she didn’t get down and depressed at times, but she didn’t stay there.
Benita lived a life in those last few years that inspired hundreds of people.
A friend lost all of her financial resources last year because of the economy and tough job market, battled cancer before that and went through a divorce. But she continued to look for ways to help others less fortunate. She is now working with the Make a Wish Foundation, a perfect fit. What a story she has to tell.
Things happen. We may not know why at the time, but later someone walks into your life with the same challenge, and you tell them your story. So what is your story going to be? Are you going to say “I totally fell apart, curled up into a fetal position and quit?” Or, are you going to be able to talk about the process. Acknowledge that it was tough, that you had some down times, but gritted your teeth and pulled through. Use your experience to teach and help others.
That is what our life is…a story. And while some parts of the plot may be a surprise, we do control the dialogue.