Oftentimes in life, we find ourselves in what appears to be a difficult and painful situation. Divorce is a great example. Divorce. Life is not going the way we dreamed about or expected. When this happens we may feel like we have been kicked in the gut.
I have found that in situations like this, life is asking us to expand and grow. The thing that is causing us so much pain is really a call to expand ourselves in disguise. (A very clever disguise at that.) To find the place where we can grow, I use a simple three-step process with my clients.
Step 1: Discovery
Before we can begin to expand and grow, we first have to accept all of the painful emotions that we feel. We need to become present to what is really true for us. We make an honest assessment of what is so. This is the most difficult part of the growth process because we may have to revisit our rage, anger, hurt, or disappointment. We may have to be in a period where we feel stuck. Who loves feeling this way? Not I, for sure. Yet we cannot skip this process. If we skip it, we will never make progress. These emotions need to be resolved and honored.
Step 2: 100% Responsibility
The second step is we then need to become 100 percent responsible for the reactions we experience and fully accept all of the emotions and the responsibility for these emotions. Okay, this is another really hard one. It is easy to blame another person or a situation for our experience. Yet if we really look closely at life, we find that we are in choice each moment as to how we respond to an event in life. How we choose to think about a situation will cause us to have an experience. Our thinking creates emotions.
For example, when we are mad at someone for something they did, it is not the other person that is causing our anger. It really is our thinking about the other person that is causing that anger. It just happens. The thinking creates the emotion. Every human creates their experience through their thinking.
Events in life are truly neutral. It is our thinking about them that gives rise to feelings.
Step 3: Expansion
Okay, we have discovered what is true for us, have become 100% responsible for how we feel, have accepted all of the emotions, we get to move on to a fun part. Step 3.
In the third step, we get curious and ask, “I wonder how life wants me to grow and expand?” If this is happening, there must be a reason for growth and expansion. In this stage, we truly have to be open and curious. In a stage of wonder. I highly recommend being in nature when taking on this question. We need new thinking, not thinking that already exists in us. Being in nature has a way of calming our bodies and minds down and allows new thinking to come in.
I love to do this kind of thinking by myself as I walk in the redwoods or by the ocean.
You can also work with a coach or therapist who you feel truly safe with and adored by. They can help you in this discovery phase. It is in this step that we have an insight into what is next for us. You will perceive the expansion because you will feel it. It becomes a simple truth. It is kind of like, “Oh, of course, this is what I am supposed to do.” The truth is always simple.
Be aware that in this stage we will have insight and then we can have tons of thinking of why it will not work. THIS IS NORMAL!!!! Our minds want to keep us safe and keep us from making changes. The purpose of thinking is to keep us in a place we know. Our thinking is kind of like the thermostat on a heater. The thermostat keeps the temperature consistent to a set point. If we do something new, it takes different energy from what we know. Thinking aims to deflect new energy so that we return to what we know. You will have insight and then immediately resist it. Just be aware.
From these steps, I have seen clients turn what appeared as horrible situations into pivotal points in their lives. I have seen clients reclaim their health and well-being and run marathons around the world. I have seen clients claim their power and write the novel they had always wanted. I have seen clients understand their contribution to a painful marriage, forgive themselves, and find the richest, juiciest love they have ever experienced.