“How do you do it?” I was driving with a friend of mine yesterday and this is what she hit me with out of no where. “How do you just let it all go and stay positive? You know that is a gift don’t you? Most of us can’t just “do” that.”
I have not stopped thinking about those questions. I am one of those perpetually positive people, but I have never thought about the actual mechanics of how I achieve that. My mind kept searching deeper for the answer to her questions and I guess the answer is complicated and simple all at the same time.
The woman asking these questions has known me my entire life. She knows that I have struggled through many dark and shadowed times from childhood on. As an adult I remain a magnet for dramatic situations. For instance – in 2000 I lost all of my belongings in an apartment fire after giving a real Christmas tree to a neighbor that forgot to water it. 2001 I broke my back in a car accident the one time I left the house not wearing a bra. Today I am a Step Mom – like I said a magnet for drama. =] So how do I stay so positive?
Through all of turbulence I have managed to not only keep my head above water, but ultimately walking away with grace and dignity. Here are the things that I feel have contributed to my success:
1) Keep looking forward, what is behind you is in the past, you can’t change it. I am sure you have heard a similar statement before, but accepting it really is the key to a restful mind and heart. I’m trying to not get too deep, it’s just the way it is. If you break your Grandmother’s favorite vase and glue it back together, the fact that you broke it does not change. You would do everything in your power to correct it. You would learn to not be so careless in the future. Here’s another important part – don’t dwell on the mistakes you have made. Dwelling is basically like getting super glue all over your fingers while trying to put the vase back together. All you can do is think about getting the damn glue off of your fingers, rather than making things whole and putting it up on the shelf as a lesson learned. My shelves are FULL of all sorts of broken bits and lessons learned, but I put my focus on trusting myself to handle more fragile things today and in the future.
2) Find your place of inner peace and keep it balanced. If you look up the definition of the word Zen, it states that it is “Truth found in contemplation and self-mastery.” Heavy…but its true. Maybe it is easier to wrap your mind around if I say know who you are. Not the person you want to be, not what society wants to see. YOU. That little voice in your head, “inner child” is a common term used too. Get to know that person. Forgive, love, and protect that person. Really – FORGIVE, LOVE, and PROTECT the inner you! This actually takes some hard work and serious soul searching. It took me the longest time to start to forgive myself and others in my life that have made mistakes and let go of the shame that I clung onto as a result. Once you learn to forgive and invest trust back into yourself, you become so much more aware how to maintain a balanced and healthy emotional life. I didn’t understand this for the longest time. I have very practical and logical thought process. Talking about my inner child made me feel more insane than centered. I personally think more of it as my pure soul, my core, my essence.
3) Fill every day with forgiveness and gratitude. I still have days that go to complete shit. I am not Snow White with birds singing on my shoulders and deer eating out of my hands. Life is real, hard, and it completely derails – but it is up to us to get it back on track. On the days I feel more like the wicked witch or when I want to drown myself in my tears, I focus on the things that I am thankful for. I go for a walk and focus on the gifts of nature or listen for laughter. I snuggle with my dog or ask my kids for a hug. I fill my soul with all of the things I give thanks for that I would be lost without. The hardest part (at least for me) is every night, forgive those that have wronged me. Every day we often have to walk along side people that wronged us and have to continue to interact with them. For Step Parents, we know this march fairly well. We have to figure out a way to have less of a struggle with the other parents involved in our children’s lives, including forgiving them. I would never let a person break up my happy home, or sever my bonds of love with my husband and children. So yes, accept what you can’t change and forgive rather than letting anger harden your heart and break apart your life.
So there it is the three things that I have done and continue to do every day to stay positive and moving forward in the right direction. It is complicated and takes very real and hard work, yet once you find yourself in an enlightened place, it becomes much easier. The world no loner seems dark and heavy. You carry an inner light that nobody can dim. It is a “gift” and I hope after reading this that I have given it to you.
Take Care & Be Well –
~ Amy Elizabeth