When I was 11 years old my class went on a school excursion to the movies. We travelled by train. On the way home my girlfriend said to me, “Why go back to school, all we’ll do is get back on the bus to come back to where we are at now”. Her suggestion made sense to me, so we hid in the toilets until everyone from our class had left the station. We expected to go back to school and no one would have missed us, just like we did when we avoided sport each week, but this time we weren’t so lucky. Our teacher was fuming and put us on detention during lunch hour for a week and we were told to stay in the classroom. What was supposed to be a punishment turned into one of the best weeks. I was with my best friend, we both loved drawing, so we took over the blackboard and had fun while we talked to our heart’s content.
There can be times in life when we feel as if obstacles just keep dropping in our path, but as I learnt when I was 11, what might at first appear to be something awful, can turn into one of the best things that ever happened to you.
I’ve lived through a lot of tough times, but this year I have felt as if I’ve faced one obstacle after another. For the past 20 plus years I’ve asked questions during tough times and I’ve discovered that the guidance and answers I receive are dependent upon the type of questions I ask. I’ve never been a ‘why me?’ person. To me it’s a total pointless question, but I must admit for a very short while when I had compassion fatigue and I started feeling confused I did think ‘why am I back here again?’ And for a few weeks I felt irritated by everyone and everything. So, I started asking, ‘What am I going to do with the rest of my life?’ Another question that didn’t give me the answer I needed. Answers come quickly so if you don’t get an answer to your question within a week change the question.
I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve faced obstacles I have wished I could just hear a voice from the sky saying, ‘Anne this is what you should do…’, but as you know that doesn’t happen. But our personality can guide us to the right questions as well.
Although I am more inclined towards optimism than pessimism, I have trained myself to be an optimist by what I continually feed into my mind. So whenever I get discouraged I don’t stay down for long because I get sick of myself, so I changed my question to, ‘What’s the best way for me to serve for the remainder of my life?’ because I know my purpose is to serve others. For me that was the perfect question. The words that kept popping into my mind were ‘serene’ and ‘peaceful’, and I knew this was who I wanted to be. That led me to ask, ‘How can I work in a way that supports me to be serene and peaceful?’ Another question that ruled out a lot of options I was considering. By asking this question, I realised that I wanted to continue doing what I’ve done for the last 20 years and that is train life coaches, I love coaching, I love empowering people. I just needed to change things around a little. I decided to change my target market and work with smaller groups of people who are committed to doing the work on themselves. I saw the opportunity for me to let go of control by having others teach the majority of my course. I am aware that I am not as good as I once was. I could restructure assessments, so I didn’t have to mark assignments and we could assess purely on coaching ability, making it easier for everyone. In fact I realised that everything that irritated me was fixable.
The questions you ask depend upon the problem and your personality, they need to be ones that take you forward, that guide you an answer that improves the quality and flow of of your life. At times I’ve asked, ‘How can I be happy and calm where I am right now?’ Because sometimes we need to stop resisting what is in order to recognise the gift that’s in our current situation. When I’ve felt stuck being grateful and focusing on performing acts of kindness made me feel good and so I could ask the next question, that would give me the guidance I was looking for.
When we only want an answer that is going to give us what we want, in the way that we want it, we set ourselves up to suffer. When we relax, flow with life and what is, do simple things that make us feel good, and have a daily routine that supports us, life gets so much easier.
Life is always conspiring to support you
Did you get that? It’s not out to get you, punish you, or remind you you’re not good enough. Life is always on our side. Your current circumstances might be giving you an opportunity to master aspects of yourself that are preventing you from creating the life you long for. You may be being redirected down a different path that will help you attain what you want, in a better way for you. It may be bringing people into your life that you didn’t know how to meet. I once had a job I hated and I spent 6 months applying for other jobs with no success, until one day I realised that I had made more friends in that job than I had anywhere else. Once I started valuing the friendships instead of focusing on what annoyed me that job became quite enjoyable. And those friendships lasted long after the job ended.
Life always supports us. By accepting what is, looking for a way to make the best of it and focusing on being the best you, you can be rather than finding a way to control what is, life has a way of taking you to exactly where you need to be.