Not too long ago I was living a very different life working in the corporate world. I never thought about mindfulness or consciousness or owning my power or living my purpose. It wasn’t until my world was completely turned upside down that I found myself asking the questions I will share here. It was eight years ago that I lost my husband to suicide. Just three weeks later I lost my Dad unexpectedly too. I felt completely devastated and powerless in my grief to move forward. If it weren’t for my girls I am not sure I would have had the strength to show up and get out of bed every day.
During these days, everything seemed to be going wrong. I mean everything around me was falling apart — every day a new problem emerged — appliances broke, an ice storm hit and we had to move out of the house, and then a rejection letter from the insurance company came on Christmas Eve (just three months after my husband died). I laughed at the timing of it almost as if I expected it.
And then the final blow came on Christmas Day. My 10 year-old daughter who was severely allergic to peanuts went into anaphylactic shock. As soon as it happened I went into go mode. I grabbed her and gave her the epi-pen, and drove to the hospital, praying it work. When the nurses took her from me I found myself on my knees begging God to save my daughter. I was not a spiritual or religious person at the time, but I was desperate. I told him I would do anything if he would spare her, and to just give me a sign and I would follow it. Thankfully my daughter was ok we went home. I remember holding my girls so tight in my bed that night, and vowed to never take anything for granted ever again. I swore to myself I would live with full gratitude and appreciation for all that I have.
Several weeks later I found myself back at work in the boardroom. I was sitting next to the president in our annual sales meeting. This was the first time I had a seat at the big kids table. I had worked my whole career for this position. I remember the VP started to speak and then all of a sudden, the room starting to close — all of the voices around me were muffled like in a Charlie brown cartoon. And I started to see my life — my future life play out in front of my eyes — like the movie ground hog day sitting here day after day, year after year. And then I heard it — “GET OUT.” I looked around the room to see if anyone else heard and no one did, so I shook it off and tried to focus. But this time it was so loud, “GET OUT,” I felt it in my whole body. As if by divine intervention I got up and left the board room. I never would have done that. The sign I had asked for came in that moment.
It was the first time I ever felt so fearless, so connected to myself and so guided. I just knew that day that I needed to leave my career behind. I told my boss I was leaving to be home with my girls and to help other women who had been through what I had gone through. This was not a conscious thought of mine before that day. My soul was speaking for me. And that day I did leave my 22-year career behind without a plan. I actually threw myself into the abyss of uncertainty and it was in this action that I was able to reclaim my power, and fearlessly recreate my life. This choice led me to find my calling, meet and marry my soul mate, and help my girls and I thrive moving forward. This was not the easy choice, but it was the most powerful one. The easier choice would have been to stay in my job and endure life in Groundhog Day.
What I discovered was when I trusted my soul’s knowing everything in my world shifted for the better. I realized that I did not need to be a victim of my circumstances or my past. I was not defined by my situation. In fact, in reclaiming my power to choose how, and who, I wanted to be I was able to manifest a life beyond anything I had ever imagined for myself.
I share this with you because you may be feeling trapped in your own version of groundhog day, especially right now in this pandemic. You also are probably feeling powerless in some sense because we don’t know how things are going to play out. The only thing we know right now is that we have gotten use to expecting some version of the twilight zone in our daily lives. None of us could have predicted the reality that we are living today in 2020.
And what I know from research is that our circumstances only impact a small portion of our happiness. In fact, only 10% of our happiness is explained by our situation. The rest is driven by us. Yes, half of it is what we are born with — some are born happier than others — I am not one of them — but almost half is driven by the choices we make. The primary choice being how we choose to show up moment by moment. It is the sum of these moment by moment choices that defines the outcome of our happiness, success and fulfillment.
The way that we reclaim our power is by choosing how we want to BE and respond in the midst of our circumstances, and it is in these moments of uncertainty, loss and unpredictability that we have the opportunity to witness our resilience and resourcefulness. The evidence that we create for ourselves in how we show up in these moments creates and reinforces new neural pathways in our brain that make us stronger and more resilient. So, while we cannot necessarily control what is happening around us like a pandemic or a heated political situation, we can control how we choose to show up, how we engage, and even thrive within the most difficult of circumstances.
So how do we do this?
The first step is to accept the idea that you are not a victim in this. To get out of feeling like a victim or feeling powerless you need to take control of what you can control. Second, you need to control or create the narrative or story you want to live in. This means you must decide how you want to feel and commit to this. What do I mean by this well if you want to live a fulfilling and joyful life, you must commit to making this your intention and daily action towards it. I am not suggesting that you deny your feelings or emotions, but you cannot dwell in the negative. This is mindfulness at its best. You learn to acknowledge, process and move forward.
How then do we allow and access this inner joy or fulfillment or resilience? It comes from deliberate thoughts, intention and actions. I want to give you three tools, which ultimately culminates in a new way of being and being in your power.
1. Shift your primary focus to gratitude and what is working in your life. Our brains are wired towards negativity bias and so we do naturally look for things that aren’t working, and can go into ‘what if’ modes. To shift your reality to more joy and fulfillment, you must shift this programming to look for what is working in your life and appreciate all that you have already in order to receive more. If you believe at all in the law of attraction you know that like attracts like and so our thoughts, actions and intentions will attract more of the same.
Book end your day with gratitude — morning and night — and include why you are grateful — this does double duty. Start looking for what is working in your life. Reflect on what went well today at the end of your day. Let this be your last thought and then wake up with appreciations. When you start to complain or say things like “the problem is,” shift to what is working in this situation instead. You will start to not only feel better and more positive, but start to expect more good, and ultimately receive it in your life. You are in essence raising your receiving levels for attracting what you want more of in this action.
ASK: What am I grateful for? What is working for me right now?
2. Get connected with your higher self, your soul, your inner goddess — whatever you want to call it. Make time for meditation, slowing down and being still. This is when you start to receive divine guidance and when your intuition kicks in. Make time every day to slow down, reflect and connect to your higher self. This is where you will find the clarity that you have been seeking. Ask yourself is the choice right for me or not, and let your body and soul tell you. You know by how it feels if this for your highest good. If it feels expansive, or like ease, it is right. When you feel icky or constricted that’s a no. This will give you clarity, and the more you follow it the more courageous you will become. From this place of connection, you will start to become more creative in seeing your path forward. Right now, you may be realizing things that no longer fit the way you want to live or be.Get curious about this.
3. The last thing I want to share with you is what to do when you get ungrounded and how you handle your triggers. You could be feeling all empowered and then suddenly you talk to your nemesis at work or your mother in-law (although I have two wonderful mothers’ in-law), and then you feel that serge in your body, that flight or fight response, and you lose yourself in the moment. You become someone you really don’t want to be. I know I can go there pretty easily myself. The truth is for most of us we won’t become so enlightened that we never go there, but we can learn to master our response to those triggers.
Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “Between Stimulus and Response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” It is in managing our response moment by moment that we stay grounded in our higher self.
How do we apply this right now? Well if worry or fear hijacks you, bring yourself back to the present moment — what is true now? Breathe in and choose gratitude for your health, and remind yourself of the truth in this moment — how you are taking care of yourself or that this time too shall pass. This is mindfulness at work. Managing your thoughts is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. And when a thought comes in of worry or stress, ask yourself, do I want this to be true? do I want more of this? And if the answer is no, give yourself permission to shift your thoughts in the moment to something better that will serve your future self.
As you start to practice these tools you will start to see that your perspective shifts, you are more in your power (meaning you are less triggered) and you are happier. You will feel more in control of your life and more empowered. Life will begin to shift into more expansive and elevated ways, and most of all you will feel more connected to your higher self and your truth.
If you want to learn more about how you can reclaim your power and design a life you love, check out my book, Know What You Want Next: How to Break Free of the I Don’t know Trap and Love Your Life Again. You will learn my whole process for creating positive change in your life.