Shit happens. There are bumps in the road. Obstacles to climb over. Challenges to face. Pains to feel.
That is an unavoidable truth of life that we don’t have control over. However, we do have control over how we respond to those perceived negative experiences and situations.
A few evenings ago, I was profoundly reminded of this power.
I was enjoying a peaceful drive to my boyfriend’s house, reflecting on the day and jamming out to some good music, when I saw the red and blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror that none of us ever want to see. How the cop saw my expired inspection sticker as we passed each other going in opposite directions at 55+ mph? I’m not sure. But he was quick to whip a U-turn and write me a $130 ticket for it.
Needless to say, I was pissed. Doesn’t he have worse things to pull people over for? Why me? Why for something so seemingly stupid?
I carried this anger, resentment, and “why me” attitude with me for the next few hours. I took it out on my boyfriend and let it affect our time together. I gave it permission to tarnish my mood and taint how I felt about the entire day, even though it was otherwise really good.
But then, mid-rant, I paused and said, “Actually, never mind. I’m not letting this situation take up any more of my space and energy.”
That’s when the powerful reflection and ultimately the overwhelming gratitude I now have for this situation began to form.
I know a ticket is a very minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but small issues can teach us big lessons. So, here are five lessons I took away from this situation that you could apply to any perceived negative situation you experience, so that you can grow from it rather than let it deplete your internal space and energy (because that stuff is precious)!
1. Everything is happening for me not to me
Negative situations often seem like setbacks in the moment, but I’m able to find peace in them by trusting that everything happening FOR me rather than TO me. This was a necessary part of my journey, I just don’t know why yet.
Maybe I would have gotten in a car crash if I kept traveling down the road.
Maybe it was a reminder to be more present, to look at what’s directly in front of me (in this case, my inspection sticker) rather than being so fixated on the destination.
Maybe the universe needed me to share these lessons with you and this was it’s way of inspiring me to do so.
I don’t exactly know why this happened for me. Sometimes we never find out.
But knowing isn’t the point. Trusting is. Trusting in the fact that if things were supposed to go differently they would have and that each and every experience is a necessary part of your journey here on the rock.
2. This suffering is optional
We most certainly can’t avoid pain, but the suffering we attach to it is completely optional.
I couldn’t do anything about the ticket or the associated fine after he issued it to me, but the suffering I caused myself by getting angry, filling my heart with resentment, fantasizing about all the things I could have said to get out of it, and carrying that negativity into the rest of my night was completely optional.
And it is with all pain and challenges.
We like to believe it’s the pain or the person who caused the pain that makes us suffer (“he ruined my entire day”), but that’s simply a defense mechanism employed by our ego.
Reality sounds more like “He was just doing his job and I chose to let that ruin my day.”
You have all the power until you put yourself in the victim shoes.
3. There’s always room for gratitude
I have a lot of tools in my tool belt for overcoming emotional charges and returning to balance. The one I have the most practice with, and the one I pulled out first in this situation, is gratitude.
As soon as I pulled away, I started to try and cultivate gratitude for the situation. I knew it was happening for me. And I knew there were blessings. I just had to make myself aware of them.
So I started a running list of all the things I was grateful for, both regarding the situation and in life in general. That list got pretty freaking long by the next morning.
Being able to drive and having a car to drive (not to mention how much I love my car).
All the times I’ve broken the law and not gotten caught.
Living in a country where our law is mostly enforced and I feel safe.
No matter the situation, there is ALWAYS room for gratitude. When in doubt, start here, even if the only thing you can think of is the fact that you’re still breathing.
4. Acknowledge and appreciate what you have or it will be taken
I don’t find it to be a coincidence that the day prior to getting my ticket, I had told my boyfriend that I didn’t have $100 to spend on a new desk chair right now.
Realistically, I have a lot more than $100 I could spend on a chair. The truer statement would have been that it wasn’t a priority for me to get one right now or that I didn’t feel it was the best use of my funds.
But when we don’t acknowledge and appreciate what we have, it’s taken from us. This felt like the universe screaming at me, “HEY! Actually you have $130 to blow on absolutely nothing. You could have used it for something you wanted, but since you’re not grateful for it, I’m going to give it to someone else.”
You might think that’s a little woo-woo, I know. But I think not.
When we don’t acknowledge and appreciate what we have, it changes the frequency which we vibrate on and we begin attracting new things that are on that same, lower vibration.
Scarcity attracts more scarcity. To achieve greater degrees of abundance, not only with money, but relationships, fulfillment, followers, etc., we must recognize the abundance that is already present.
5. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow if you’re open to the lessons
I can’t deny I would have preferred to keep the $130 in my bank account, but now looking at it, that’s a small price to pay for the lessons and growth I’ve experienced from it. All because I was open to them.
All because, when I noticed how emotionally charged I got from this situation, rather than suppressing or justifying my behavior, I took note of it and began to work on it so I can become more unfuckwithable when future challenges arise.
I can’t even begin to imagine the return I will make on that $130.
But it just as easily (maybe even more easily) could have became $130 wasted if I didn’t open myself up to the lessons. If I tried to protect my ego. If I wasn’t willing to acknowledge my flaws and areas that need improvement.
Our perceived negative experiences have as much to give us as the positive ones do. But we can only recognize that gain by welcoming them with open arms and looking for the lessons and blessings in them rather than resenting or suppressing them.