06/06/2014 10:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Forced out of Our Comfort Zone


Like most other humans, I want to experience myself as "in charge" of my life. But as we know, sometimes things happen that lie beyond our control. What surprises us is that these untoward occurrences can turn out to be blessings in disguise.

Several examples spring to mind:

1. Although I dreamed of being an only child, my siblings have been a source of growth. (As I've mentioned in a previous post, my psychoanalyst said, "Your siblings prevented you from being more self-involved.")

2. Mr. Q wanted to communicate with his friends around the world, but fearing his privacy would be invaded and his identity stolen, refused to use a computer. When the landline to his phone was shut down for repair, he was forced to purchase (a readily available one) that happened to be a smart phone with internet service. He recognized the irony: circumstances had forced him to do what he feared. He became an avid communicator, emailing and texting several times a day. Re-connecting with old friends changed his life for the better.

3. Fired from a part-time job gave Mr. P. the time to follow his passion to paint.

4. Circumstances beyond her control (her mother's death and an unhappy marriage) motivated the physician Karen Horney to immigrate from Europe to the U.S. Her observations of the differences in culture provided the basis for her psychoanalytic theory. Her writings, the first of which was The Neurotic Personality of Our Time (1937), expanded Freudian psychoanalysis to include the relevance of cultural influences and personal relationships.

Conclusion: Recognizing that circumstances beyond our capacity may prove advantageous allows us to relinquish tight control and to lighten our outlook.