Consider three ideas for a fresh take on your life.
May 16, 2021
A change in perspective can turn a lusterless, seemingly empty life into a rich, bold experience if you let it. Ask yourself, “What ideas are shaping my life?” Whatever your answers, ask yourself a second question: “Are they taking me where I want to go?”
Over the last twenty-five years, unique and resilient clients have shown me what works for them and what doesn’t. Three powerful ideas keep surfacing:
- The universe is surprisingly supportive once you make a decision and take the first step in the direction of your dream.
2. If you don’t like the way you made your bed, make it over.
3. We are all more than we can ever imagine.
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
I’ve read many versions of that idea attributed to various respected writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Joseph Campbell.
My experience is a tribute to its truth. Although there’s a caveat–when you make a decision, you have to mean it. There’s a difference between thinking you’ll try something and deciding to do something. The universe can tell the difference.
For example, I often thought about going back to school for an undergraduate degree, but it wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I decided to do it. The day I decided and checked out the tuition reimbursement program at my company, they told me it was the first year they offered financial support for continuing education.
Here’s another fortunate happenstance. I wasn’t quite ready to leave my full-time job with a community mental health center. I planned to go in February of the following year to expand my private practice into full-time. But in early October, my boss said, “Changes are coming in December that I don’t think you’ll like. I don’t want you to be blind-sided.”
That spurred my decision to leave in November. Until then, my small side gig private practice had been in a tiny room in a low-rent office building close to my home. I planned to expand my private practice caseload and bring in two other therapists to share the offices with me. I needed to find space fast.
When I checked with the office manager where I was renting, she said the best corner office suite in that building had just become available. The rent was well within my budget because they needed to fill it as soon as possible. If I had waited until February, I would have lost a space that has served me well for ten years.
Something about making a decision, and meaning it, fuels an engine that creates momentum, keeping us going in the direction of our desires.
Ignore anyone who tells you, “You made your bed, now lie in it.”
The first time I heard someone say, “You made your bed, now lie in it,” a euphemism for “You did this to yourself–now suffer for all eternity, you moron,” I was stunned. How could anyone believe an idea so contrary to how life at its best can work.
We learn through our mistakes. Failure tells us something needs to be tweaked or changed. It’s a teacher, not a torture mechanism.
I spent the first half of my life doing work that didn’t suit me, nor did I serve it. In mid-stream, I went back to school, got both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and began the second half of my life as a psychotherapist who will never retire. Why stop doing something you love?
I’ve been married twice and now have a partner with whom I plan to spend the rest of my life. All of my relationships have shown me who I am–the fullness of good, bad, and neutral–and there is nothing that could convince me I shouldn’t have allowed the relationships to change. Not everything in our life is meant to last forever.
If something is working, by all means, hold tight, cherish it, and stick with it.
But if it isn’t working, get up, pull out new bedding, and make that bed over as many times as you need to.
You are so much more than you can imagine.
Edith Eger, ninety-three-year old Auschwitz survivor and psychologist who works with traumatized clients, wrote the book “The Gift.” In it, she says:
“I learned from my mentor, friend, and fellow Auschwitz survivor Victor Frankel, that our worst experiences can be our best teachers, catalyzing unforeseen discoveries and opening us up to new possibilities and perspectives. Healing, fulfillment, and freedom come from our ability to choose our response to whatever life brings us, and to make meaning and drive purpose from all we experience — and in particular, from our suffering.”
No one asks for tragedy. We don’t seek the darkest parts of humanity, but sometimes we come face to face with them. When that happens, we need to know that we are bigger than the trauma, brighter than the darkness, and capable of reacting to life in a way that reflects our magnificent capacities.
When I was sixteen and broke up with a boyfriend, he went nuts. I survived. And that’s what’s important. Hanging on to the graphic details from before, during and after, doesn’t serve me today. I got the help I needed to process it. I still have some PTSD that I suspect will rear its head from time to time.
But it doesn’t own me or keep me small.
Before I’d ever heard of Edith Eger, I realized every experience life offers expands my understanding of human nature.
When we remember that we are so much more than we can see at any given moment, we’re better able to keep pushing beyond both our self and also externally-imposed limits. When we think big, we live big.
When we choose thoughts that elevate, they not only make our lives richer but the lives of everyone we touch.
The universe is surprisingly supportive once you make a decision and take the first step.
If you don’t like the way you made your bed, make it over.
You and I are so much more than we can imagine.
Be bold, think big, and make the bed over as many times as you want!