Find that silver lining in every cloud

In our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to lose track of how much impact we have on our own life and the lives of other people through the things we say and do. Or don’t say or don’t do. I participated in a discussion group this evening, and one of the topics discussed was the power of “I am” – how using the words “I am” creates reality in our lives, even if it isn’t really true: “I’m feeling worse,” “I am terrible at remembering names,” etc. The conversation evolved into a discussion about death and grieving, and how the words and thoughts we put into a situation manifest in our lives.

I’m not going to go into all the details, but the gist of the conversation was dealing with grief, and how sometimes the words we say or the actions we take, or the assumptions we make, have an influence on how we deal with the grief process and our ability to move on. Whenever someone close dies, it is a natural process to experience grief. Each person grieves differently, and it takes differing periods of time to recover. Some people never fully recover from their loss. Others seem to bounce back fairly easily. I think the key is in the words and thoughts we put into the situation. If we tell ourselves that we should be miserable because someone died, we are going to be miserable. If we tell ourselves that we’re never going to meet someone new or have another relationship, we won’t. If we keep the memory of the person alive as if they are still standing next to us and sleeping in our bed, we aren’t making room for what is next.

Meanwhile, our well-intentioned loved ones tell us how sorry they are, and how every day gets better. There is no reason to apologize, and honestly, when someone feels like their world is falling apart around them, the “getting better every day” promise seems a little empty, however true it might be. Perhaps it is better just to acknowledge the situation and ask the person how they are doing, or to let them know you are thinking about them, or to offer help with something they need. This puts positive energy into a negative situation, and makes it easier for everyone to move in the right direction: onward and upward!

My general observation is that when someone loses a significant person in their life, whether it be a spouse figure or a child, the grieving process usually leads to some sort of profound experience that the person would not have ever had otherwise. Maybe someone was a housewife for 30 years, and then after being widowed, discovered the pleasures of traveling and seeing the world as an independent person. Maybe after keeping the candle burning for a deceased spouse, someone finally allows a new relationship (the one that could never happen!) to blossom.

I think too often, we feel like we have to build an imaginary wall around ourselves when we lose someone. It’s like drawing a line in the sand, that can’t be crossed at any cost, even though the wind can blow it away almost effortlessly. It’s as if crossing that imaginary line will betray the person we love. But in reality, the line is just that: imaginary. We place limits on ourselves. How many of us would really want someone to hold onto us that strongly if we were gone? Most of us would want our loved ones to move on with their life – appreciate our purpose and celebrate the time we had, and then go on to make new memories. Some of us are smart enough to say so while we have the chance. Others just assume it will happen, yet still, there are so many who still aren’t willing to step over that line.

Eventually we have to cross that line, either out of circumstances, or out of necessity. Once we discover that we can cross that imaginary line, it instantly disappears. It’s like a whole new world opens to us. Yes, we still love the person we lost, but suddenly, we are no longer a slave to that loss. It isn’t the person’s death that causes the grieving, it’s the disruption of the routine we have become accustomed to. This happens, even if a relationship between two living people breaks up, or when we lose a job, or a home.

It’s the absence of the person (or the job or the home) that makes us feel grief. It’s the absence of “normal.” Once we step across that line and realize that the world doesn’t come crashing down around us when we do, we are able to create a new “normal.” It’s not the same as it was before, but it’s normal, just the same. As we adjust to the new normal, we start seeing and accepting that things really do get better every day. Some people take baby steps, some are brave enough to take leaps, but the destination is always toward new happiness.

So when you have an experience of loss in your life, remember that the loss itself is the hardest step. Once you have accepted and reconciled the loss that has happened, the rest can be as easy as you want it to be. The key is want. You can manifest whatever happiness or unhappiness you want. Your words and thoughts create the state of “heaven” or “hell” in your life, and your thoughts can get you past any obstacles that were created previously.

Rather than thinking about what isn’t (the things you can’t change), think about what can be (the things you can change). Life is always full of possibilities, whether we choose to see them or not. If you assume the possibilities don’t exist, they won’t exist for you. Someone else will take that opportunity and benefit from it, leaving you to wallow in your misery. If you accept that anything is possible, you open the door to whatever opportunity might come your way. No judgement, no doubt, no misery. Just what is.

I love to tell the story about the sugar packet, and with that story I will close. In life, my mother was a worrier. She could take the tiniest little molehill and make it into a mountain. Things hardly ever turned out as badly as she expected, but she worried just the same. I would spend time thinking about how miserable she made herself over the years, doubting her own capabilities, and doubting the situations around her. One day, I was in a restaurant, and I noticed that the packets of sugar in the container on the table each had words of wisdom. One notable sugar packet made me think of my mother and her tendency to worry. I don’t remember exactly how it was worded, but here’s the idea: “Each morning when you wake up, you can be happy, or you can be unhappy. The choice is yours.”

We make our happiness or unhappiness by the words we think and speak, and the choices we make. No one outside of ourselves can give or take happiness from us. Happiness is something that is created within. If we look at our world with open eyes and open minds, and remember this wisdom, why would we ever need to experience anything but happiness, even when our situation isn’t as ideal as we’d like it to be.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Spend a little more time looking deeper for that silver lining, and less time worrying about all the grey clutter that surrounds it! You’ll be glad you did.