“Is it really up to me?”
This is a question I avoided looking at for many years.
I craved for people to help me out of the situations I desperately wanted out of; I struggled and struggled to find my way out.
I felt powerless to change anything and felt all the different things I was trying weren’t working because I was somehow cursed, or that I was a terrible loser that the universe couldn’t or wouldn’t help me by giving me a life free of troubles… oh I beat myself up pretty badly for years, no doubt a lingering relic of intense criticism I received when I was a child and which I had of course internalized.
The shift in my thinking was gradual and for me took many years to accomplish, because I suppose I had a lot of healing to do.
It can be very intimidating to come to the realization that we are responsible for all aspects of our lives, not just which school we go to or what job we choose or house we buy etc., but for our own inner life, our healing, and our spiritual growth.
It can be crippling to fall into society’s subtle message of waiting for someone to do it for us, that “they” will take care of it, or “they” will help us. Crippling, because as long as we subscribe to that way of thinking, we can deprive ourselves of many enriching and learning opportunities while we wait.
By gradually learning to take on full responsibility for all aspects of our lives, we learn to sit in the driver’s seat of our life, and not the hapless passenger who gets taken to ‘un-wished’ for destinations and feels very hurt and broken by subsequent events.
It’s very empowering to give our selves permission to take charge of all aspects of our inner and outer life, but it still can be very daunting when we’re still missing some of life’s tools to do so.
These tools are all learnable and do-able, but do take time and effort to implement in our lives. I’ve done my best to share as many of the tools as I could think of while I was on my journey of writing the book “On Becoming a Lemonade Maker“.
Here’s an excerpt from the book with a little more on taking responsibility for our learning curve in life:
Making Lemonade out of Life’s Lemons
Making lemonade out of life’s lemons and becoming a lemonade maker is partly a state of mind and partly learning some new tools. It takes re-training of our minds, our perceptions, our emotions and our spirit to make this all happen.
When we realize it is up to us, that no one else can do the work for us, then the work that it takes can seem like a lot and we can become overwhelmed.
It is do-able if we tackle it in smaller increments, and then the successes we achieve will help us to move forward.
Never try to rush this progress, for even when it feels like nothing is happening, much to our surprise, the dormancy of winter changes, when a new Spring shows her face from behind a corner, and the lessons quietly learned in this time period push new juices through our veins.
When I say we need to do the work for ourselves, in no way do I mean that we are going to do this all by ourselves. There is a fine distinction between the two. We all need help and support, which comes in various forms, both through reading and by talking to and learning from other people. Help can come from many varied and sometimes surprising sources, and I have found that the Universe can sometimes bring someone into my life to tell me something I need to hear in that moment, if I’m open to looking past some sources that might initially seem out of the square box.
However, at the end of each day, we all need to pick and choose the lessons that we feel are the most appropriate for ourselves, to then absorb and learn, to be able to internalize our healing. No one can do this work for us, while we sit back and allow it to happen; we need to participate very actively in our own process, which can be a slow, kind of ‘dripping in”, a percolation, requiring repeated applications.
But, how do we get THERE from HERE,
when the “Think Positive” adage seems to feel and sound hollow?
There are actually many facets to becoming a Lemonade Maker, each one allowing us to approach from a point we feel comfortable, and to gradually look and perhaps to incorporate them all in our own time. This means really that there isn’t a strict set of directions to follow, but rather, if we start with where we are at, with something that feels good, with something do-able, then we are making our start on this path.
Rather than trying to swallow the whole elephant in one gulp (and who can do that?), if approached in steps, or stages, – or if you will, bite-by-bite, we can hope to make sense of it (to digest it) and make it part of ourselves, our inner being.
Difficulties and trials bring some kind of meaning into our lives, even if our minds can’t even begin to face it at this moment. At the very least we get pushed out into an arena that forces us to grow and develop inner areas that may never have had an opportunity to be stretched.
There are some things in life we won’t ever know the reason for, some things that seem far to horrible even to think about, let even speak of, yet each of those things, in time, will yield up something of value to us, though I have found that usually the nugget of truth I have gotten from a situation is completely different than what I would have originally guessed.
Some of the lessons I have learned have been intensely personal, things I needed to change in my thoughts and actions in order to perform better in my life. Other lessons have been more global, teaching me about life, community, our inter-connectedness, which in turn helps me to understand life’s cycles a little better and has helped me develop more compassion for other people’s troubles, and which helps me to develop more passion to try to do my best to become the change I crave in the world.
When I thought I would be crushed under the weight of continuous struggles, I discovered I was stronger than I had ever imagined myself to be. By putting one foot in front of the other, trying to do my best each day, even though it didn’t appear to go anywhere, I discovered I had more tenacity and perseverance that I thought I ever could have. When years passed, I found I could weather many storms. I learned many lessons about life that the good times could never teach me, even though I craved for life to be easier.
I am stronger and have become stronger through it all, because even though I would pray fervently that I not be put through so much, apparently the Universe’s design was not to crush me, but to teach me to become stronger, much the way physical training develops a stronger body.
I repeat: going through many trials and difficulties in life isn’t about crushing us or breaking our spirits, but rather, it is like going to the gym and building stronger muscles; except that these life muscles help us deal with life better and better.
“Kites fly highest against the wind, not with it.” – Churchill
“ Although we cannot change the direction of the wind,
we can adjust our sails.” – Unknown
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