My dad and his family survived the depression of the 1930s, and it left an indelible mark on his life. Even up until his last days, he had an unchangeable view on saving and preparation for unseen potential difficulty. No sliver of soap was wasted, it was carefully molded onto the new bar. No ounce of water was used unnecessarily, it was turned off at every opportunity. Worn out shoes and broken items were repaired and reused, never thrown out.
It was a bit hard to flow with these ideas when I was a teenager, though after successfully navigating my business through the recession, I understand the value of them a bit more intimately. In spite of these experiences, or perhaps because of them, I believe we ought to strive for balance between the persuasions we bring from past experience, and the unchartered territory that lies in our future.
As we traverse the inevitable challenges and disappointments of life, we have to be careful what we take forward from those experiences. Unchecked habits of fearfulness can have us living the life of a hermit or foreseeing the worst in every possible future -- or worse, repeating poor choices to fix people and situations that aren't ours to fix.
While some experiences are so harsh they can limit our perspectives for years to come, it still seems important to strive for the deep healing and profound insight that can light our way forward. So, how do we achieve the balance of learning from the past while still finding joy in the present, and expecting the best from the future?
First, we need to accept that every transition brings with it the loss of several dreams. While on some level we may understand the necessity of those losses, very few of us create the space to grieve them. Without taking time to grieve for our losses, grief will taint every choice we make for our future. Unresolved grief leaves us closed off to possibility and doomed to repeat the past, while authentic grieving often brings healing and much-needed clarity.
As we grieve, we need to remember that we don't yet know the end of the story. We don't yet know how we or our lives will be reinvented as a result of this change. It would be a mistake to look back at what was lost, thinking it's an end, when you don't yet know what is yet to come. Years from now, you will more likely see this as a positive transition.
The loss of a relationship or business venture can sometimes be what's necessary in order to prepare you or open the door for what's next. If the decision to move forward had been solely up to us, we would have stayed in what was familiar or comfortable -- some arrangement or venture that was, unbeknownst to us, doomed from the start.
Second, we want to savor the hard-earned lessons of earth plane wisdom that have come from our challenges. Tough financial times remind us that good economic times don't last forever and that saving and preparing for the unknown is imperative. Relationship and investment fiascos often remind us to trust and rely our intuition more readily. If we allow them, every challenge will teach us the lessons we weren't ready to learn before. It's up to us, though, to search for these insights.
Finally, from a spiritual perspective, there is a reason for every challenge and difficulty we experience. We have to search within to know the intangible reasons and spiritual causes for our lives. Not to blame ourselves, or to encourage any sense of powerlessness, but to find empowering insights we need in order to move forward.
Spiritual insights can be the wheels under our difficulties that move us beyond them. To find them, though, we have to be willing to see our problems and disappointments as opportunities -- opportunities to learn, grow and heal.
With these three steps, we can heal the grief that binds us, and move forward in wise and insightful ways that we could not have before our challenges.
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