I had a song running through my head by Alan Jackson and the one line that got stuck in my head “If life were like the movies….”. I started to think about that. What if life were like the movies? And I realized maybe it is. In the movies, generally, everything works out but what happens in every movie? The main character has to go through some sort of trial or problem. No one is going to watch a movie if everything is rainbows and unicorns where nothing ever goes wrong. Think about it – where does the movie get interesting? During the rising action and the conflict, the plot twists. That is the best part of the movie. We have to see how it ends and see how the characters resolve whatever happens in the conflict. In the heat of the action and the conflict is where we are most engaged in the movie. Life is a lot like that. In order for us to learn and grow and for life to be interesting, we need the conflict – the parts of life that aren’t so pleasant or so easy to deal with. It is in those moments we are most engaged with life and where the opportunity for growth is contained. It is here where our greatness is found - in the conflict and the struggles. And, as humans, it is those opportunities that we wish we could miss. How often have you wished your problems away? We all do. And yet – what if we chose to change how we see them, not as an obstacle but as an opportunity?
I am 49 years old and I have experienced the ups and downs that comes with life and I have witnessed my friends and those around me experience the same. When I coach my clients I hear the same stories. Everyone is fighting something. Everyone has a story. Everyone has been hurt, betrayed, broken down, disappointed, devastated by a loss. That is life. However, we all have a choice in how we react to what life dishes out. We can choose to be the victim and let our problems bring us down. We can use our past as a badge of honor and an excuse for not being or doing our best. We can choose to make our past our identity and tell ourselves that we can never become anything else because of our past. I am guilty of this in parts of my own life. I identified with my past abuse and thought that because I was abused it was because I was worthless and didn’t deserve any better. I believed the words spoken over me as a kid telling me that no one wanted to hear what I had to say and nothing I said was important. I believed the feeling that I was invisible and a burden and lived many years feeling like I could die at any moment and it wouldn’t impact a single soul on this planet. But I also learned that I don’t have to continue to do that any more. I can choose different beliefs about myself, about others and about what I am capable of achieving.
I have learned that our struggles can also become our opportunities and that, like the movies, we can use those struggles to transform. Think of our fairy tales – Cinderella for instance. She had to deal with an evil step mother and step sisters who treated her like garbage. She could have lived like that forever, being a slave to her family and then choosing a husband who also treated her like she was his slave, believing she wasn’t worth anything better. I learned in my own life how much our struggles can be such a gift. When I talk with someone about a problem they are going through and I understand what they are feeling and talking about because I have been there too, that level of understanding I can offer is such a gift. For instance, when I work with my clients who have been diagnosed with herpes. When they are newly diagnosed, they are feeling scared, alone, in shame and many believe they have a bleak future. When I can talk to them and tell them what what they are feeling is totally normal and that it doesn’t have to be that way forever, that I have been there myself and three years later am completely comfortable with my diagnosis and living a happy life in a great relationship, it gives them hope. It helps them to see that what they are feeling right now is not the truth. That life with herpes is not a sentence. It is an opportunity. The people in the herpes community that I have connected with have been such a gift. I have met so many amazing, loving, caring, intelligent, talented, evolved people in this community who comes from all walks of life, connected by a virus and a desire to share, nurture and reach out. I have formed such close connections that I never would have had otherwise. When I talk to my clients who are going through a divorce I can help them calm down, focus on what they can do today and help them find the confidence in themselves to make those empowered decisions that will help them to not only survive their divorce but thrive. I help them to see what part they played in the divorce and what parts they have control over to change so that they can create positive, loving, and happy relationships in the future. I can help support my coworkers who have issues with change adapt to new technology because I have had family members who struggled with the change and I have experience helping them. I have had deaths in my family through heart failure and suicide so I can help support others who are struggling with loss. Each experience I have had can become a gift to someone else.
Like the movies, everything that happens to us is part of the plot. There is a reason for all of it, otherwise it wouldn’t be there. The Universe or God or the great storyteller would not have written that experience in to the plot line if it didn’t serve a purpose. We don’t get a copy of the script of our lives but we can choose what direction the drama will take. We can be the person in the play who goes through so much and yet comes out the other end stronger and transformed. We can be the hero of our own life play. It’s entirely up to us. What would you like the denouement of your life to look like?