When life throws you a curve ball, or a series of curve balls, you can choose to ignore it, feel despair and sadness over it, get angry over it, or make life changes in response to it.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross, in her book, “On Death and Dying,” described the five stages of grief as denial, depression, anger, bargaining and acceptance. When faced with a big change in life – loss of a job, the end of a relationship, a move away from home, a horrific accident, loss of a loved one – we find ourselves experiencing some or all of these emotions. It’s OK. That’s what makes us human.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kubler Ross
Deadly Experiences: Two Reactions
There is a story on The Guardian news website about a couple who went for a hike. The woman smelled something and got a queasy feeling and did not want to move forward. Her husband said her concern was groundless and pressed on. The two were subsequently attacked by a bear on the trail. Both sustained horrific injuries and disfigurement. The husband chose to see it as a second chance for life. His wife chose to let fear overcome her and “fought the bear” in her mind for the remainder of her life.
Another Guardian story involved a couple who went scuba diving. The wife, Micki, was attacked by a shark and almost lost her arm. She allowed herself to become fearful, reliving the attack over and over again in her thoughts. She announced she would never scuba dive again. Micki’s husband decided to take action. He had taken a photo of the shark, which he put on her computer screen to help her overcome her fear.
“Every time I walked in, I had to look at her (the shark) again,” she said. “It took a week or two, but I was gradually desensitized.”
Two years later, Micki decided to try snorkeling again. By doing so she overcame the fear around the traumatic event and gained her freedom.
When Angels Step In
I was recently talking to a client and friend who described a traumatic car accident to me. As she was describing the event, I “saw” an angel lift her by the shoulders, pulling her out of the way just as the collision occurred. She survived with minor injuries, but the car was a goner. The message for her was simple: It’s not your time, and the angels made sure of it.
Her story of angelic intervention is not the only one. In a Guidepost.org story, “An Angel at the Amusement Park,” the writer describes a sister and brother’s experience on the amusement park ride, the Viking Fury. During the course of the ride, the safety bar popped open. At that moment, the sister screamed then immediately felt a warm hand grab her t-shirt from behind. Both she and her brother were yanked back in their seat, and they pulled the bar shut again. They looked back to see a tall, blonde man seated behind them who said: “That came loose on you, didn’t it?”
After the ride was over, the pair of children looked for the tall man, but he was nowhere to be found.
When Does Angel Intervention Begin?
I’ve ignored angelic warnings before to my detriment. Once, I attempted to take a flight three times for an event in another state. I never did get on that plane. I realized later I was meant to stay home due to the unexpected death of a family member several hours later.
Perhaps you’ve ignored an angelic warning or two in your own life? Angelic warnings can take several forms including:
- Mechanical failures (your car refuses to start or it stops suddenly and won’t move forward).
- You feel a queasiness in your stomach.
- You can’t find your keys.
- There are weird delays when you attempt to leave.
- You hear a “disembodied voice,” that gives you a warning.
- You become ill suddenly.
- You are advised to stay home by family or friends (even your pets!).
Finding Peace Following a Disaster
Not everyone experiences a monumental shift into a better life path following a traumatic incident or life-changing event, especially if it feels like all areas of your life are being hit simultaneously.
Realize the Wheel of Life goes around and around. Sometimes you find yourself at the bottom and sometimes you are at the top.
When you are feeling like you are at the bottom of the Wheel of Life, Patrycja Domurad suggests you change your attitude by taking time to accept where you are right now then give thanks for the good stuff. In her blog post, “Stop Waiting for Life to Happen and Start Living Now,” Patrycja asks the question “How would my perspective change if I realize my quality of life is directly related to my reactions?”
“Instead of waiting for life to happen, make it happen. Instead of waiting for a change, create a change.” – Patrycja Domurad
She recommends keeping a daily gratitude journal to get back on track. A shift in direction will occur if you take a couple of minutes each day to list the things you are grateful for in your life, she said.
- Write it down
- Feel it
- Choose a set time of day
- Practice present-moment gratitude
- Share the gratitude
- Don’t stop once you start seeing results
- Allow yourself to be human
Simply put, if you are continuously thinking negative thoughts about life’s unexpected changes it makes you feel bad and can ultimately impact your health. And while it may seem impossible to feel great all of the time, it is possible to appreciate life’s special moments as they happen if you are able to shift your focus.
EMDR and PBM Therapy
Sometimes it takes more than feeling grateful or tackling a situation head-on to resolve it, especially if the event is traumatic. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is one non-traditional therapy that has proven useful for some people. How it works: Therapists will guide a person’s eyes back and forth as the person describes the traumatic event in detail. Over several sessions, the therapists assists you by replacing negative images with more positive ones.
Another non-invasive medical solution is Photobiomodulation (PBM). How it works: PBM uses near-infrared light to “stimulate and heal” in response to traumatic events, degenerative diseases such as dementia, psychiatric disorders such as depression, injuries or chronic pain. A double-blind 2016 study showed a positive impact using this type of light therapy for patients suffering from neuropathy (nerve damage).
Living in the Present Moment
A friend of mine told me the other day she was impressed that I was able to interact with a wild animal. She was referring to an experience I had last summer when I walked up to a young blue jay, took photos and petted it as it sat on my bird bath.
Truthfully, I was living in the Present Moment.
Being in the present moment removes expectations and allows you to feel with your senses – especially your heart – while preventing your brain from taking over to tell you how things should be. Other benefits of living in the present moment can be found here: https://www.raptitude.com/2014/03/present-moment-benefits/