I have a question for you: What do you do when you’re looking at a glass half empty?
Most of us would do almost anything to avoid a distressing occurrence…a car accident, a job loss, an illness…but how realistic is this? Not very! Each of us will have to face some form of adversity in our lives. I don’t know of anyone who makes it off the planet without something going awry! ….And what if this was good news? As a survivor of invasive breast cancer, whose marriage fell apart shortly after her treatment ended, I can confirm that without these experiences, I would not be the person I am today – grateful to be alive and willing to stretch a little further to see what life has to offer. Adversity pulls us out of our comfort zone, often kicking and screaming, and if we’re paying attention, shows us what we’re really made of.
At the time of my diagnosis, I was a working wife and mother running from pillar to post to satisfy my many obligations. A typical workday began with getting our toddler to daycare, then rushing to make the train on time to head to my job where I worked as an administrative assistant supporting four bosses, then rushing to make the train back home to pick up my baby, getting home, making dinner, bathing baby, putting him to bed and then me. I felt like a rat on a wheel, completely overwhelmed. There was a book out at the time called Breast Cancer? Let Me Check my Schedule! I could relate!
Of course, I was worried. Fortunately, I found a saying that I kept at my desk: Worry drains today of its strength and tomorrow of its possibilities. At night, when I couldn’t sleep, I would say a prayer and envision myself throwing my worries up to heaven, saying “God, you gotta take care of this, because I gotta get some sleep!” This actually worked. I could feel the weight of my worries being lifted.
We can’t control when these unbidden things happen, but we can strive to control our mindset. First, we remember that you and I have been through difficult times before and we made it out okay. It may have taken some time, but here we are! Next, we reach out for support, spiritually and/or from loved ones. Please do not worry about imposing on your loved ones. Consider that you would do the same for them. They want to be there for you too! Finally, we let go of what we can’t control. Instead of terrorizing ourselves with the story of what’s happening, we direct our focus to the desired outcome.
A few years ago, I lost my job. I remember walking down the hall to meet with my boss and the person from HR in a conference room, and as I made my way, I thought, Okay, Susan. You’ve been through breast cancer and divorce. You’re going to be okay. I was fairly composed by the time I sat in the conference room. Next, I called my boyfriend and then called my sister to share the news. They both commiserated with me, and they both reminded me, “You’re going to be okay.” (Make sure you reach out to loved ones who will bolster you!). Finally, when my mind wanted to curse and rehearse what happened to me, thinking to myself, I knew this was going to happen…I never should have taken that job…, I hit the “pause” button to put a stop to my machinations. I had to hit that button a few times! I then began to consider what I wanted to do next. What would I love, now that I had the chance to re-invent myself? It took some time to discover and do some research, but eventually I pulled out an old manuscript I had started shortly after my divorce, entitled Thank You, Cancer, and then I began training to become certified as a life coach. I have been a life coach for over two years and love guiding my clients to transforming their own lives, and my book is due out this year!
None of the dramatic and positive changes in my life would have occurred without the nasty adversities I described above. So remember, when you’re glass is half empty, it’s only waiting to be filled with more than you’ve ever been before!