A Different Way of Looking at Things ...

  • I was thinking about the many seemingly unpleasant situations and experiences in life that perhaps we tend to under-value or outright dislike/try to avoid, but which are in reality actually very good for us to experience sometimes if we could just gain a different perspective.

    Things like failure, being alone, being average, being wrong, being poor, being afraid, life challenges, encountering mean/bad people, etc. seem like negative experiences but perhaps with a positive attitude and perspective, they can be transformed into valuable lessons. They can all help us to grow and learn. Yet society doesn’t help us with this transformation of thinking; failing, being poor or alone etc often carries a social stigma, implying isolation, being on the outside of the norm. This perceived sense of being an outsider seems to imply that these ‘conditions’ are not volitional, that it’s not a choice we make but rather, an imposed state where a person is not socially engaged in the way that is somehow expected. Even further, it may imply that there is something actually wrong or defective with a person who remains in these states.

    All things have their value, advantage, or benefit.

    For example:

    The value/benefit of failure: to some degree, failure is an inevitable part of life. Whether they’re big or small, none of us can avoid experiencing setbacks from time to time — and that’s OK. In fact, it’s more than just OK to fail — it’s necessary. According to successful people and researchers alike, failure is actually good for us for a number of reasons. Failure makes us far more interesting for one thing, because we learn more from failure than success. Learning how to bounce back from failure is an invaluable skill to possess if you want to succeed. It teaches us to endure, to think more strategically, to strive, and – eventually - to thrive. If we never failed, how could we recognize or appreciate what it is to succeed? Without failure, we'd be less capable of compassion, empathy, kindness, and great achievement; we would be less likely to reach for 'the moon and the stars'. We'd become bored with success if it was constant. It's through failure that we learn the greatest lessons that life could teach us. Failure is a part of every human life, for certain no one can achieve success if they don't have a ‘taste’ of failure. The people who have had the biggest successes in life did not do it instantly – they actually failed more times than most people, yet they kept on getting up and continuing on, wiser and stronger than they were before they failed. Failure is a good skill to develop. If you’re good at falling down and getting back up, you’ll be confident going into new situations because you know you’ll be OK, no matter what happens. Failure also teaches us what DOESN’T work for us. Failing is what helps us get more prepared for the propose of success ... it is what makes us want to do better in order to be successful. Basically, if you’re afraid of failure and you don’t believe in yourself, then you’re probably going to fail simply by not trying. Conversely, if you're somewhat afraid to fail but you consider yourself capable of achieving your goals, then you’re more likely to succeed. Failure is never a waste - if you learn from it.

    The value/benefit of being alone: for some, loneliness may be a chronic condition where your own company is never enough; where spending time with yourself may produce anxiety and sometimes worse symptoms such as panic attacks and depression. For many, the perceived solution to keep this fear away is to make sure that you are always in the company of another. Although alone and lonely are often thought of as being one in the same, alone doesn’t equal loneliness. Learning to be alone may be initially scary but once mastered serves as the cornerstone for your development and growth as a human being. There’s so much to be gained from learning to rely, and more importantly, to trust your own inner voice as the best source for your own guidance. Being alone allows you to drop your “social guard”, thus giving you the freedom to be introspective, to think for yourself. You may be able to make better choices and decisions about who you are and what you want without outside influence. Often, we are swayed by the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior of those in our immediate sphere. Of course, you may ask others for their advice and opinions but ultimately, consulting yourself and making up your own mind about what you want to do will lead you into the life that’s best for you. More specifically, learning how to be alone may serve you well when it comes to knowing what you need and want in a relationship. Some individuals allow their partner to tell them what to feel, what to want and do, largely because that is what their partner wants and needs. Certain relationships even require this. So if you’re too afraid to be alone and function on your own you’ll be selling yourself out, settling for a relationship (often not the healthiest, and sometimes, downright bad) that insures that you’re NEVER alone. The bottom line is that you cannot possibly have a healthy relationship with others if you haven’t learned to have a healthy relationship with yourself. Plus being alone means you can eat pizza at three AM, wear your jammies all day, and have a nap or snack on chocolate whenever you like without upsetting or being criticized by anyone.

    The value/benefit of being average: so your life is not spectacular, not an exciting round of adventures and romance? Join the club of most of humanity. Yet telling someone they are “average” is akin to insulting them, and will likely offend a large number of people. Indeed, many people would prefer to be unique - even in a bad way - than to be normal in a good way. We may have a need for uniqueness, a desire to be famous or special, or to stand out from the crowd. However, there are many advantages to being, and even feeling, average. If you want to avoid most physical and psychological illnesses, being average is one of your best options; pathology is generally associated with statistical infrequency. Even desirable characteristics — ambition, sociability, confidence, and conscientiousness — are problematic when exacerbated or taken to the extreme. Ambition can turn into greed; sociability into exhibitionistic attention-seeking; confidence into arrogance; and conscientiousness into obsessive-compulsive behaviour. The "too-much-of-a-good-thing effect" suggests high needs for these and other ‘desirable’ traits are as inconvenient and counterproductive as very low needs, so you are just better off being average. Further, since you probably are average on most qualities anyway, feeling average will translate into high self-awareness, which is far better than the (much more common) alternative — over-confident or unrealistic delusion. Of course, on a more granular level — genetics, biology, subjective experience, etc. — we are all unique, just like everyone else is. Self-help tips designed to embrace our uniqueness — i.e., “just be yourself” — are therefore quite amusing. How could we possibly not be ourselves, and what sort of pathetic achievement would that constitute anyway? The glorification of non-conformity and unconventionality — a bastion of our consumerist society — is simply an effective decoy for making people feel special while they are nudged into doing, thinking, and buying like everyone else. Needless to say, the world is optimized for average people: Nothing would function if the majority of us were outliers, but it’s nice to think that while everyone else is the same, we are celebrated for being different. To be clear, the world’s progress depends on those who stand out via their exceptional and innovative contributions, but these individuals are part of the top 1 percent in their field, combining truly unconventional levels of talent, work ethic, and focus. For the remaining 99 percent of us, the acceptance that our talents and motivation are much more conventional, and unlikely to result in world-changing accomplishments, would reflect a healthier, more rational self-concept than illusions of grandiosity or fantasized talent. A modest person of average talents is usually more likeable than a self-important person of amazing talents. Modesty inspires confidence and good will. You can be modest without being apologetic. People will like and respect you for suggesting your limitations, as long as you show you are determined to do your best. Plus, you’ll be in more plentiful company than the greats of our world will.

    The value of being wrong: oh, we all hate to be not right, don’t we – or am I wrong? Intellectually, we know that making a mistake gives us the opportunity to learn and grow. Still, that usually does little to assuage our shame, embarrassment and guilt when blundering. Of course, it depends on the size and significance of our mistake. But as a society, we dread mistakes. And as a whole, our mistakes tend to get punished. One of the toughest phrases for most people to say aloud is: “I’m sorry.” One of the reasons why we’re so hard on ourselves and others when making a mistake is because of the “hindsight bias,” which is the tendency to examine our mistakes from outside the situation, where we can clearly see every twist and turn, every possible problem, and observe where every road leads. How different that is from being IN the situation, where we may have to make split-second or life-changing decisions, perhaps based on faulty data and unclear directions, often while we are stressed or scared. Hindsight is a great thing indeed but no one gets it until after the fact or experience. Lessons learned from mistake-making in for example your job (issues of decision making or people assessment) can help you with mistakes in other areas of your life. Our society socializes our kids to fear and avoid making mistakes, but instead we must raise our children not to be paralyzed by their errors. Research states that it isn’t as important to build kids’ self-esteem when they are young as it is to help them cultivate resiliency. How well a child can recover from the inevitable “ups and downs” of life will be vital for their survival in this often cold and unforgiving world. Kids who aren’t resilient see themselves as overall losers and failures rather than as having difficulty in one particular area of their life. These kids may also rely on unhealthy coping strategies such as quitting, blaming and denying responsibility. We all need to be able - and this is a really tough one - to think more in the long term and less in the short term, to not always see making mistakes as a waste of time, but sometimes as a risk that can lead to success. We must really look at our own and others’ efforts and accomplishments and not let reputations - good or bad - rest solely on past deeds. And we need to ‘man up’ and take real responsibility when things go wrong, rather than mouthing insincere platitudes or ignoring the problem altogether. Making mistakes can be character-building and what makes us human. Our mistakes can lead to learning opportunities and growth. It’s really society’s emphasis on performance and perfectionism that creates a fear of making mistakes. Losing our fear of blunders, and accepting that it is inevitable, even necessary, will alleviate any anxiety and guilt and thus help us to minimize our errors next time.

    The value of being poor: yes, you would like a little more cash, but having wealth doesn’t necessarily bring you financial or mental peace. It means more stressing about taxes, and possessions, and economic downturns, and romantic relationships (‘do they love me or my money?’), and generally ‘keeping up with the Jones’. (The same could be said for being beautiful – it takes a lot of time, money and effort to look flawless, but regardless we all have flaws, some just cover them better or know how to achieve their best look - which anyone can do.) The high earners stress about having to make another million in case they lose their first million. On top of the financial stuff, they have to deal with body weight issues, jury service, speeding fines, and children’s college fees. Existential or mid-life crises is a disease that only inflicts the well-off. In comparison to all the other things you can be inflicted with, poverty seems like the better choice. It’s not a birth defect, or permanent disability or an incurable disease. You haven’t lost a limb or been brain damaged. Health, my friend, is real wealth. You’re actually rich, relatively speaking - all things are relative. A poor person in America, Australia or Britain can be deemed wealthy elsewhere. The poverty line in the US is just under $12,000. The average annual income in India is $1500. And there are much worse countries than India. The moment you whine about what you don’t have, you stop seeing what you do have. Being poor is within your comfort zone. It’s demanding trying to be wealthy. You have to overcome self-doubt, fear of rejection, pick yourself up after failures, and take big risks. The average millionaire goes bankrupt 3.5 times. Almost 9 out of 10 new businesses or startups will fail. The cost of luxury comforts and security IS discomfort and uncertainty. Money doesn’t buy you freedom from work. It is work! On average, millionaires work 55 hours per week – many work 70 or 80 hours. They work 6 days per week instead of 5. Plus when you are poor, nobody is trying to kill you for your money. You likely have real friends. Many rich people have friends who are insincere sycophants who can’t be relied on in times of difficulties. (The same issue for being beautiful …) You’re in perpetual difficult times so anyone still hanging around is a genuine friend. They’re not out to get something from you, mostly because you don’t have much to get off in the first place. They like you for you! You can also get a job. If those coming from third world countries with little to no money, no welfare, uneducated, and barely able to speak English can do it, then you’ve got a pretty darn good chance too. There’s a smugness that goes with being poor. You’ve distanced yourself from the devil, safe in the belief that money is the root of all evil. The bible itself states, “it is easier for a rope to pass through an eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” Sure, you don’t have a business to create goods or services or jobs for poorer people. You’re barely able to take care of yourself let alone help anyone else. You can’t give what you don’t have after all. But still, heaven awaits you. Poverty instills in a person virtues that just can’t be inherited like wealth can. Those coming from rags to riches are characterized by their thrift, low status, discipline, low consumption, risk, and very hard work. It gives them a greater hunger and resourcefulness. Money can only buy happiness up to a point. And you may be poor enough that every dollar you earn has a measurable effect on your day-to-day contentment. The rich getting richer are not getting any happier … but you certainly can! So have a little compassion for the wealthy – you have so much more than they do. Yeah, yeah that doesn’t mean it makes you worry less about the next rental payment, but here’s something you may have missed in all this. Making money takes some creative thought – are you really using your creativity to the fullest or only reserving it for the odd bit of painting or needlework? Get clever about creating abundance! Like how about starting your own business (online?) or selling your wares/crafts from home or a market stall? Also, check whether negative feelings about money might not be blocking its arrival – did you pick up any negative attitudes about wealth from your parents when you were young that might be stopping you having it? Well it can corrupt you, but only if you let it go to your head/ego.

    The value of encountering difficult people: having difficult people in our lives is a pain, but it can lead us to greater mindfulness. The most difficult people who come into our lives are often the ones that have the most to teach us. They reflect back to us what we need to work on and ultimately where we need to grow to experience more healthy, whole and complete lives. This is not intentional on their part, in that they have not set out to “consciously” teach us anything. The “teaching” is anchored in a spiritual agreement which is not evident outright, to our current state of being or consciousness. They unfortunately are often the people closest to us. They are the ones with whom we have the most challenging and difficult relationships. They can be our parents, siblings, friends or lovers. They have their own issues they are working through (or not). This might include mental illness, addiction or even abuse. They might be abusive to us or have inflicted pain upon us. In the “teaching agreement”, however, THEIR actions are irrelevant, in terms of what WE have to learn. It is only our reaction to their actions that matters. Difficult people provide us with a roadmap for where we have the most growing to do. It’s important to note that these difficult people (or even events) that “trigger us” aren’t there by accident. They are there to help us go through the necessary, painful growth that is essential to our own spiritual evolution, no matter how unpleasant it might be. In other words, we cannot evolve if we do not confront the darkest parts of our soul or psyche. Additionally, when a once hidden inner darkness is brought into the light, the opportunity for meaningful change is all the more profound. What you can’t see, you can’t possibly have the opportunity to change. Consequently, those who trigger us the most, in terms of our own negative actions or reactions, are often our greatest teachers. If someone says something, does something or acts in a way that always pushes your buttons, ask yourself why you respond to them as though this is their issue and not your own. Why does one person screaming at you make you feel nothing but amusement or indifference while another person ignores you and you become furious? What deep rooted belief or emotion have they stumbled upon that makes you react and respond and then blame them for evoking your feelings? Difficult people are a mirror for anyone who passes and sometimes, when people look at one another, they see something of themselves in that person. When we see something in the ‘mirror’ that we recognize, it sparks a reaction. All that is happening is we are seeing our own reflection. The image looking back at us may not be who we are today in this very moment, it may be showing us a past memory or experience. Our subconscious and unconscious minds have millions and billions of fragmented pieces of information stored in them and all the data has been absorbed in us by everything that has happened so far in our lives. They hold things that we thought we’d forgotten, hoped had disappeared, or thought had been wiped out when we became this new version of our self that we see in the mirror today. So, when someone says something, does something or acts in a way that triggers a piece of that data, we are immediately triggered by the memory it holds. Whenever we see something we despise in others, we are actually seeing something we despise in ourselves. Rather than taking responsibility for the way we feel, we project onto the other person by reacting in our conditioned way. It doesn’t feel good to associate ourselves with what they have shown us. That isn’t who we are anymore and we want to suppress and deny any association to it. However, when we do that, we are suppressing the memory further. Anything that is suppressed will not go away. It lies stagnant and it waits around patiently ready to sneak out, usually when we least expect it. It wants to be acknowledged so it can be free and clear itself from any karmic repercussions or any conflict that may arise whenever it is recognized. Our suppressed data wants us to take responsibility for it and claim it as our own so that it can change, just like we have, and transform through self-compassion and self-forgiveness so that the old issue can be associated with a good feeling. This illumination is the key to knowing where we need to love ourselves into greater spiritual growth and healing. The sooner you can practise mindfulness and objectivity during any difficult encounter, the sooner you and the other person can move on in a positive way. Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to a particular experience without judgment, of recognizing the issue and your reaction as being yours alone and stepping back from the other person to examine your own soul for lingering unhealed trauma. Mindfulness has been proven to help people with physical, mental, and emotional stress. Mindfulness has a way of centering and calming not only ourselves but also those around us. Many mindfulness practitioners have great magnetism. This attraction has the ability to draw people to your positive vibes and feel supported and grounded from it. Being in a peaceful and powerful state is beneficial when we encounter others who want to use us as their sounding board and verbal punching bag. So as difficult as some people can be, they are merely pointing out the places in us that are not yet healed – and need to be. Thank them for their (unconscious) service!

    The value of fear: fear is the condition of being afraid of something or being worried about an outcome. We all have faced and dealt with different types of fear at various stages in our lives. But is fear really a bad thing? At the basic level, fear guides our ‘fight or flight’ responses and helps to keep us safe and alive. Fear heightens our senses and awareness; it keeps us alert and helps in better preparation. However, most people’s natural instinct when confronted with a scary situation is to avoid it. Of course, if someone is chasing you with a chainsaw, then you just have to run like heck!!! On reflection, though, most of us realize the downside to running away from fear - avoidance – just intensifies the feelings of anxiety and makes it hard to focus on anything else. (Especially if the chainsaw guy is stalking you.) Of course, avoiding something also means that thing remains undone, which can have negative consequences itself if it’s, say, a needed medical treatment or a critical career builder. Doing something scary can also inspire exceptional outcomes. Most fears are actually imaginary based on assuming such and such might happen. Have you ever done something you were fearful of doing, then looking back you wonder why you were so scared? We talk ourselves into being afraid, often based on no reasoning or logic at all. Just as there seems to be an optimal level of stress for growth and learning, a certain amount of fear can lead to high performance. Fear signals there’s something of consequence on the line, a reason to exert effort. A lot of the need to be productive is the terror of things falling apart. The negative side of fear is when it holds you back from doing something positive. Persevering through in spite of fear springs from a determination to succeed and make a difference in your life and the lives of other people, to make your mark in the world. Overcoming fear is done through taking action. Make an effort to dig deep within to identify the root of your fear. Have the will to breakout, transcend and rise above fear. That’s what it can do for you. Just don’t let it run your life.

    The Wisdom of Fear
    Anything really worth doing in our lives will always have some fear attached to it. For example, having a baby, getting married, changing careers--all of these life changes can bring up deep fears. It helps to remember that this type of fear is good. It is your way of questioning whether you really want the new life these changes will bring. It is also a potent reminder that releasing and grieving the past is a necessary part of moving into the new. Fear has a way of throwing us off balance, making us feel uncertain and insecure, but it is not meant to discourage us. Its purpose is to notify us that we are at the edge of our comfort zone, poised in between the old life and a new one. Whenever we face our fear, we overcome an inner obstacle and move into new and life-enhancing territory, both inside and out. The more we learn to respect and even welcome fear, the more we will be able to hear its wisdom, wisdom that will let us know that the time has come to move forward, or not. While comfort with fear is a contradiction in terms, we can learn to honor our fear, recognizing its arrival, listening to its intelligence, and respecting it as a harbinger of transformation. Indeed, it informs us that the change we are contemplating is significant, enabling us to approach it with the proper reverence. You might wish to converse with your fear, plumbing its depths for a greater understanding of the change you are making. You could do this by sitting quietly in meditation and listening or by journaling. Writing down whatever comes up - your worries, your sadness, your excitement, your hopes - is a great way to learn about yourself through the vehicle of fear and to remember that fear almost always comes alongside anything worth doing in your life.

    The value of tough Life Challenges: challenge is life’s way of making sure that you truly desire the things you achieve. Challenge is an excellent tool for keeping you focused on the things that really matter to you. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to live in a world with no challenge. In such a world, you could obtain anything and everything with no need for effort, discipline or commitment. Does that sound like a great setup, with your every wish fulfilled the moment you think of it? Well, it might be nice for 20 minutes or so, but it would soon grow extremely tiresome and boring. For such a world would literally overwhelm you with meaningless triviality. Sure, every wish would be instantly granted, but it would all be painfully empty. The value of achievement is in the achieving, in the overcoming of the challenges, in the person you become as a result of going through the process. To have the reward without the effort is to have no reward at all, nothing but an empty and meaningless token. Challenge is difficult, often painful, always demanding, and as such, challenge is what makes true value, beauty and fulfillment possible. Challenge can be tough, yet indeed it brings about the richness and fullness of life. Challenges and problems are important parts of life that give you experiences, make you learn and help you to become wiser and stronger. Problems make us grow and shape us. The biggest problem people have is that they hope for a life without problems. This is an impossible goal, and would lead to a dull life without character. We will all have problems – small or large – the difference is how we deal with the problems and challenges that occur. So don’t run away from the problems and challenges you are facing in life. Don’t ignore them or try to hide from them. Face them. Deal with them. The greatest growth in life and the most important lessons you can learn will come when you face and deal with a serious challenge or problem. Regardless of the result, value the experience and the personal growth it brings you.

    Can you think of any more seemingly negative situations or experiences which might have a positive side?

  • The positive side of loss: I think we all would wish for weight loss, but the loss of someone or something we love is quite another thing altogether. It is a gut-wrenching experience and we may feel like we will never get over it. Time doesn't diminish the pain at all, but it does change our ability to cope with the loss.

    Loss may create a passion inside you to do more with your own life, You have survived one of the toughest challenges in life. Still, you have more to do while you am fortunate enough to still be here. Make your lost loved one and the loved ones still here proud. Make the most out of the life you have left. You are still alive, so you must live! The reason we feel loss is because someone is gone from our life while we are left behind. But wait - that means we are still here! If we are here, we still have the ability to live and to live BIG. Loss is hard but not living is harder. Each of us has a finite amount of time on earth. You must honour the ones you lost by living well. They wouldn’t want less for you.

    Loss can also increase your spirituality - thinking about death and loss makes us question everything we thought we believed and it can lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe. Losing a loved one is very hard. This can feel very unfair especially if they were young and it can lead to questions such as 'Why?' Truth is, we may never know exactly why something happens, so the question becomes meaningless. There are some things in life that we may never understand, at least while we are on this earth. Accept the things you cannot control and kick butt at the things you can. If you are religious, you may be comforted by the belief that you will reunite with your beloved on the other side one day.

    You have known true love and you still have love to give! We feel loss because someone we love is no longer with us. The bigger our love, the bigger our loss. But that means we were lucky enough to have someone in our life to love. How fortunate are we to know how to feel and show BIG love. Loss does not mean our ability to love and be loved is gone as well. We can grieve the loss, but we should be proud of our capacity to love. There are so many people on earth that are worthy of our love and it feels really good to share it. Don’t feel guilty about sharing your love with new people. Tapping back into our loving hearts helps us to cope with the pain of loss. The loved ones we’ve lost wouldn’t want us to live without love.

    Loss can help us be more empathic towards other people. We shouldn't judge others because we don’t know what they might be going through. When you have experienced grief and loss, it makes you more aware of other people’s feelings. You become more understanding of what they might be going through emotionally. You try and remember that when someone is acting like a total jackass, there could be a deeper reason to their behaviour. Maybe we just don’t see the full picture. Although, in a perfect world, people would always be kind no matter what they’re going though, you can still do your part by trying to understand people, even if they aren’t being nice to you.

    Loss can make you stronger. When times are tough, our strength shines through. Have you ever noticed that the strongest people you know have gone through hell and back and are still standing? We learn to embrace our strength when things are going poorly and when there are tragic events taking place. When we are being tested, our strength emerges and we can show what we are truly made of. We become resilient and ready to take on any challenges life may throw at us.

    Loss brings people together. There will always be people who support and love you. When someone passes away or leaves, you will see families and communities coming together to help those who are grieving. People visit, send cards and flowers, and attend funerals to show their support. When you are in a low place, a place so consumed with loss, having the comfort of those around you can truly make a difference. Whether it’s close friends, family or even acquaintances or strangers, that love and those kind words are what make something so tragic a little bit easier. During this time, you find people will stop thinking about themselves and the problems they are dealing with. Instead, they will focus on comforting those who are hurting. When a loved one passes away, it often brings together family and friends to console one another. You may rekindle a connection to someone with whom you had lost touch - a relative or friend you have not seen in years. The two of you can support one another through the grieving process and beyond. While death takes a loved one away, it may also be the catalyst in bringing another loved one back into your life.

    Loss and grief remind us of our vulnerabilities. Everyone cares about what others think to a certain extent. But have you ever noticed people reveal their true and raw selves when they are grieving? Loss can remind us of our vulnerabilities and how to bring down the "strong and tough" outer facade we have unconsciously built around ourselves. Going through a flood of emotions from calmness, to disbelief, to frustration, to anger and then to despair strips away the normal defenses, the walls we erect to cope socially. Through the experience of loss, we don't try to hide or act a certain way; we are just fully consumed in an outright emotion. Even the strongest people can have moments of fragility. It reminds us all we are human.

    Loss can give you a newfound appreciation and thirst for life. With grief and healing comes a newfound appreciation for life. You stop taking people and things for granted. You start experiencing life in a new way, and you no longer sweat the small stuff. You learn to let things go. You try and laugh a little harder, breathe a little deeper and love a little stronger. The small things that used to bother you now seem trivial when compared to the great loss you have suffered. Your coping mechanism gets a shot in the arm and you’re now fairly impervious to relatively minor upsets and to what people think of you. Through loss, we are reminded that life is short, so why not make the most of it by not worrying over things that don't really matter?

    Sometimes losing someone can be a blessing in disguise if the quality of their life has deteriorated because of disease or trauma. If your loved one was dealing with a debilitating disease such as cancer, then their passing can signify the end of the suffering they were feeling. It may make saying goodbye easier. You can work through your grief by reminding yourself that your loved one's pain and suffering are over.

    The loss of possessions: according to the scientific account, losing things represents a failure of recollection or a failure of attention: either we can’t retrieve a memory (of where we set down our wallet, say) or we didn’t 'encode' one into our brain in the first place. According to the psychoanalytic account, conversely, losing things represents a success - a deliberate sabotage of our rational mind by our subliminal desires. There may be a low estimation of the lost object or a secret antipathy towards it or towards the person that it came from. Psychologists say that we never lose what we highly value. So ask yourself why you have misplaced your car keys or phone. Do you really want to go somewhere or call someone or be called in return? Are you trying to escape doing or hearing something? What you lose can have an important message from your psyche for you. You will recover the lost object once you have figured out why your subconscious mind discarded it in the first place. But overall, try to remember that you have come into this world naked, without possessions. You have only survived this far because your spirit has proven repeatedly that you are lovable and loved and wise and powerful. It is not your possessions that attract other people to you. It is the way you express yourself and show your fun-loving beautiful spirit. Your self-worth is never under question because you are already an expression of divinity. Already enough. Life is a bounty and you have got to search for its true treasures which are not of the material world. What you want or need will change at different times in your life and you will shed that which 'enslaves' you. You will rid yourself of that which no longer represents you. How much that you own don't you really need?

  • The positive purpose of illness and accidents: there is a spiritual cause underlying most diseases and so-called accidents. They can help you identify key areas of emotional buildup that may be manifesting in your body. Once you have identified what the inner issue is, you can work at healing it. But although we receive daily messages and advice from God, our Angels and Spirit Guides, we often miss them, ignore them or forget them. These sacred messages are a clear and repeated proof that Spirit is always trying to communicate with us, to help, guide, support and direct us to our highest and best good. The Primal Soul also often presents itself to us in seemingly insignificant events and experiences. It is the "still small voice", something we can easily overlook in the rush of modern life. It may speak to us in a dream, a chance encounter, a meaningful coincidence, or even an accident or illness. Yet if the Primal Soul and cosmic supporters are to help us, we must help them by listening carefully, by nurturing their messages, and building a place for them in our conscious lives. What happens if we don't pay attention to our soul and universal advisors or to physical, mental or emotional symptoms or even to our dream messages, synchronistic events, or accidents?

    Some people have such deep wounds in their energy fields that their 'wake-up calls' have to come in the form of a serious illness or injury. Illnesses however usually develop over time, heralded by symptoms. We don't feel well, aren't as energetic as we are accustomed to be. Symptoms alert us that our body is not functioning properly, that we are not taking care of ourselves adequately, or that we have contracted something noxious. While we should exhaust all the possibilities of medical diagnosis, we should also seriously consider these sorts of conditions as messages from our soul encoded in the body. Usually, the overworked person in our society neglects personal health and "matters of the heart" -- meaningful relationships, compassion, empathy. Eventually, the body protests against such mistreatment in the form of severe problems, sometimes preceded by noticeable symptoms that might go ignored.

    When we really aren't paying attention, the message has to be more powerful, in the form of an accident which is meant as an urgent wake-up call from the universe. Sometimes small mishaps are totally random - you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But more often than not, “accidents” occur in order to call our attention to something important that may be damaging to our health. Large “accidents” like an injury or trauma are particularly strong warning signs from the cosmos, messages designed to grab our attention and snap us out of a behaviour pattern that is no longer serving our best interests. It’s up to us to decide if we’re going to heed those warnings and snap out of the detrimental behaviour. A big accident can also be the universe's way of reminding us that life is about more than just surviving it, it is about loving it.

    Even small mishaps can help us be more aware of a behaviour that is currently a potential hazard - like texting while driving - or help us notice an action, like leaving the oven on, that could possibly become unsafe later on, especially if it is part of a larger pattern of repeating types of accidents. Maybe you just happened to step in dog doo. But when it “just happens” to your new expensive shoes that you really couldn’t afford, perhaps the wake-up call is a reminder that material goods aren’t as important as peace of mind. Or if you trip on a curb trying to walk and read your phone at the same time after a long day in which everything has gone wrong, it might be a sign that you need to slow down. Use your gut to determine the meaning of the early warning sign. Does it make you zero in on some activity or mental state that might not be in your best interests? If you spill milk on your outfit, knock over the trash can with your car, and then get rear-ended on the way to work, your Higher Self is trying to tell you something. Are you too stressed to concentrate properly and need to meditate or take a rest day to reset your system? Are you distracted by an emotional issue that needs to be addressed?

    There is a message in everything that happens to us and, if we are just a little bit more aware, we can see the clues and solve the puzzle of our lives. When accidents happen, whether they are large or small, from falling down the stairs to a terrifying car crash, or when you fall ill in a serious or non-serious way, try not to beat yourself up. Instead, recognize that the universe is trying to take care of you and keep you safe and healthy. That accident or illness is saying, “Hey, you. Listen up.” If you heed these warnings and examine your behaviour to find the problem, you can make a change that just might save your life!

    We do not travel the path to the soul by leaps and bounds. The path to the soul is a life's work made up mostly of seemingly trivial acts and events. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

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