There is an old Chinese proverb that says “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.”
How many times have we faced a difficult situation in life where we felt that we ended up with the short end of the stick? It is easy to jump into the sea of self pity when faced with life’s heartaches. However, once your in, it is very difficult to get out.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, my first thought was, “Ok God you have GOT to be kidding me! This is NOT fair!” That negative perspective quickly snowballed until I found myself flailing about in a tumultuous sea of self pity. I soon realized that was not working in my favour so I made the conscience choice to switch my perspective. “So I have cancer. Not exactly what I ordered on my life menu but nonetheless, here it is. I can choose to feel sorry for myself or I can start to count my blessings.” And so by choosing to switch my perspective and count blessings rather than the negative aspects of my life, I found myself on dry ground again and in a much better frame of mind.
How does that work? Well, for every blessing counted, your spirit is lifted. Even if it is a slow start and you don’t feel like anything is happening, do it anyway. If you can’t think of anything big, start small. Do you have clothes on your back? Then be thankful for that! Count your blessings in your head, write them on paper, sing them aloud, put post it notes around your house. Whatever it takes to start thinking of the positives in your life. Even when going through immense grief, this exercise will help to see you through the difficult times.
When going through my divorce, I was in such a grief stricken state that I thought I would never smile or laugh again. At the same time, my oldest daughter was on a missions trip to some of the poorest countries in the world. She would send back reports and photos of the women going through such horrific ordeals. Extreme poverty, death, and torture were just a few of the things that some of these women had encountered. After hearing some of their stories, I for one felt ashamed that I had ever felt such self pity. Sure my heart was broken, but really in the great scope of things I was very blessed. I had great kids, a loving extended family, a wonderful job, a roof over my head, clothes to wear and so many amazing friends to help me through this time. When looking at what I had in comparison to these women, I could only be but grateful.
Recently, a dear friend of mine also went through a painful divorce. On what would have been her 23rd anniversary, instead of allowing herself to be drawn into the depths of despair she decided to celebrate the blessings she received during her early years of marriage and ended up with a lovely evening spent with friends and family. To some this might seem bizarre but to those who have made the choice to live in peace, it makes perfect sense! Another beautiful example of how a change in perspective can alter your state of mind.
Now here is a little secret that we sometimes forget when dealing with life’s difficulties. There is always someone who has it better than you and there is always someone who has it worse than you. To open our hearts to others during our own difficulties also helps in our personal healing process. By taking the focus off of ourselves and putting our energy into helping others, we not only are helping to make our world a better place, but we are helping ourselves to heal.
The perspective from which we choose to view our world from has a very powerful impact on how we are able to function in life. To view life from a positive point of view comes naturally for some, but for most of us, it takes perseverance, prayer, and patience in order to achieve a change in perspective.
May you find a renewed sense of hope and peace as you count your blessings today.
With all my love,