We Are Truly Limitless
I often play a game called “challenge/opportunity” with my clients. Often, they will come to me with a litany of things that have gone wrong. I work with them to see the opportunities that came with the challenges. We can usually turn their attitude around by doing so. And they invariably say to me “Why couldn’t I see that in the first place?”
The reason is simple: we react, rather than respond, far too often. Something happens to us, and we immediately deal with the situation from habit, from fight-or-flight mechanisms, or from fear. If we can take a moment to merely observe, and then ask ourselves questions about the situation we face, our response is often very different from the knee-jerk reaction.
There are three questions I encourage people to ask about any situation, learned long ago from Barry Neil Kaufman at the Option Institute: What am I unhappy about? Why am I unhappy about that? What do I think would happen if I stopped being unhappy about that?
Those three questions are miraculous, along with their counterpart, “Where is my Happy?” They help us untether ourselves from our typical answers: the ones we’ve used habitually, the ones we’re told are “normal” and “natural,” and the ones that do not require thinking.
When my former husband, Rich, decided he did not want to be married any longer – he was moving to California and I was distinctly not invited – I spent three weeks playing the Wounded Wife, because that’s who I thought I was supposed to be. When I stopped and asked myself what I truly wanted, it was to keep my friend. Rich and I had been good friends for a dozen years before we got married. So I went from reaction to response, telling him that if that’s what he wanted, I wouldn’t stop him – but I wanted to keep my friendship with him no matter what happened.
From that point on, the divorce was amicable, with everything done above-board and honestly with each other. We did indeed stay friends. We always sent each other birthday cards. And when he died unexpectedly fifteen years later, I received an unimaginable gift.
Five months after his death, a week before my birthday, I was given a very detailed message from him during a Spiritualist Sunday service. The person delivering the message gave a description of what he looked like, with half a dozen telltale details that proved it was undoubtedly him: the style of his hair and beard, the red t-shirt that I had given him, the shorts and sandals that were his everyday California uniform. There was even a mention of the Himalayan cat in his arms (Kaiser Wilhelm, our first pet together). And, said the medium wonderingly, he was “waving, and blowing kisses.”
If I had played the game of Wounded Wife, we would have long ago lost contact with each other. And that sweet miracle of a Happy-Birthday-from-Heaven visual would have never been my present that long-ago March.