Have you ever watched Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events?

Well, sometimes that is exactly what my life has felt like - just when I am on the brink of a breakthrough, an 'unfortunate' event occurs to derail it. Always just that one step away!

It has happened so many times now that I've got to the stage where I can shake my head and laugh about most things (not all!) and know that everything is going to be okay. And even, one day, great!

What about you … are you at that stage of feeling like that?

If not, there are a couple of things I want to share which have helped me get there. 

Let's talk blame and denial firstly. For many, many years I thought that the basis for every misfortune happening to me was external. That I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I mean, what could I be doing that would cause these random things to happen to me? Well, a couple of things. 

Firstly, I was often in denial about my contribution to the situation. If I couldn't get the relationship I wanted (you know, that happy ever after one where someone just loves you unconditionally and life is full of roses and happy ever-after’s…) I thought I was just meeting the wrong people. And I was, though there was more to it. I didn't realise that all MY own self-belief, deep-seated trust issues, and fears around being hurt were all preventing me from finding my happy ever after. What relationships I did attract simply validated everything I didn't want a relationship to be. I was busy sabotaging it at every corner with all the strong belief systems I had. I didn't have the awareness that I needed to change my thoughts to attract a different outcome. Unless I did that, all my fears were going to come true each and every time. I needed to remove all the anger, resentment, hurts, bitterness, jealousy and so many other emotions I had trapped inside of me. And I could only do that by acknowledging that they existed in the first place. Sure, many of these were embedded from the many hurts and disappointments I experienced from a young age, but I still needed to acknowledge they were there and let them go. 

Secondly, I didn't realise I had a blaming attitude. I felt sorry for myself, and I wanted others to feel sorry for me. Yep - cue victim mentality. Life was against me. It was other people or situations that were making me miserable, not me. Everyone was out to hurt me, get me and I was powerless to change that. It just wasn't fair! 😉 Yes. Sure, I had valid reasons to feel life was against me - and that victim part of me wanted that to be heard. Soo I probably attracted an awful lot of misfortune into my life that I probably could have avoided, if I had just known that being a victim to situations outside of (and also inside of..) my control was okay. Just because something happened to me once, it wasn't always going to happen to me. That I could choose to look at the situation for what it was rather than another 'unfortunate event' that I had no control over. That I could actually use it as an opportunity to learn from. Gosh, it has taken me so many years to understand this!

Once I understood that I do not have to take people or situations personally, and that I have a choice of how to respond, my life dramatically became less 'unfortunate'. I learned to love this person I am. The quirky personality I have. The fact that I like to be alone more than I like to be with others. That I have my own unique set of skills, talents, and qualities. That I do not need to compare myself with others. Rather, I can focus on what it is I have to offer, and appreciate in others the attributes I don't have. This experience is about accepting and really liking who I am because it is not by accident that I am this way. 

Another thing I learned along the way was that every life experience is an opportunity to learn from. All the experiences I hated as a child taught me how to be a strong, independent, resilient adult - even if I still got things horribly wrong. Once I understood that my health, happiness, and wellbeing were in my hands then I began to take responsibility for my actions, reactions, thoughts and attitudes. I can control how I respond to any situation. And I can choose to do it with anger, resentment and bitterness or I could do it with grace, compassion and understanding. When I chose to do it with the later, there was an undeniable improvement in my health and wellbeing. Similarly, I have to allow others to own their own actions and reactions. Ultimately, I have no control over anyone else's responses. 

Now, I hear you ask - but what about loss of those you love? How does that factor into all of this? They are tragedies!! Yes. They are. Losing my daughter was something I wish no parent to experience, ever! Yet, there is nothing I can do to change that situation. It happened. What I could change was how I reacted to it. It is not a punishment for anything I have or haven't done. Rather it was life happening. Regardless of whether you believe it is part of a soul path or not, the real question to be asking is what opportunity does this experience present for you? And when I say this, I don't mean you have toughen up and get on with life. I mean that you allow yourself to grieve for the passing of this beautiful person in your life in whatever way you need to. Though also allow yourself to see the impact that person made in your life. How have those experiences changed you and your life over the years? How can this experience change how you move forward? Maybe you realise that working long hours doesn't provide you with the family time you need so you need to change how you work. Maybe you realise there are no guarantees in life, so you want to be living each and every day with joy and happiness, so what do you need to do/change to achieve that? Maybe the nature of how your loved one passed sparks a desire in you to make a change to legislation, or road speeds or victim rights, or whatever it is that is ignited within. Maybe you learn to show those around you how much they mean to you rather than take it for granted that they know that. I am naturally an introvert, though here I am putting myself out there, interviewing people weekly for my podcast to help others navigate their grief. Prior to Tahl's death I could never have envisaged that for myself. Yet now it is my passion, and I could NOT imagine NOT doing this.

Similarly, it was almost beyond my comprehension and will power to survive losing Adrian in the circumstances we did. However, if I hadn't learned to love myself and truly open my heart up, I would not have met this wonderful man and have known, however briefly, that I could have exactly the relationship I dreamed of having - effortless, easy and in sync. Yes, I was unprepared for losing him so soon and I hurt bigtime! Though what I do know, is that if I had this wonderful experience once, I could have it again. So, I will place my trust and heart in the universe with this.

Perhaps the biggest transformation in my life was learning to look outward rather than putting all the focus on myself. When I started looking at how I could help others for no other reason than to truly want to help, I opened myself up to see what others are going through on a daily basis which makes my situation pale in comparison. Though it is never about comparing and more about awareness of what is going on around me when I open myself up to it. In addition, when I truly began to have gratitude for what I did have, rather than just pay it lip service, when I stopped and thought of all the wonderful people and things I have in my life and expressed gratitude, I instantly felt richer in so many ways. The material things took on lesser importance and my relationship with others a far greater role. These two things alone have given opened me up to living my life with more love, grace, and compassion. 

I would urge you to remember that YOU are in the driver's seat of your life. Something that nobody can take away from you is your ability to decide what is right and best for you. You own that right, regardless of what life may have shown you otherwise. My advice, skip right to the end of the movie where, despite the Baudelaire siblings' unfortunate events, they know they have each other and can overcome the worst of the worst. So can you.


(Thanks Sarah Kilian (@rojekilian) for the pic 👍)

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