I had a recent health scare (a recurring prostate issue) that landed me in an ER in the middle of Iowa early on a Sunday morning.
I knew the drill—that I was going to be wearing a catheter for a week or so, and that my upcoming visit to my 87-year-old Mom’s was going to be impacted.
I thought I was past these issues—they go back to 2019, to a surgery in 2020, and I really thought I was done with them for a few years. It was frustrating and scary.
As I was panicking (when you can’t pee, but really need to, you panic a lot), I was noticing a lot of thoughts.
While I was pacing in my room at 2 am, I was noticing a lot of thoughts.
When I was thinking about how soon would be too soon to wake and ask my host to drive me to the ER, I was noticing a lot of thoughts.
We Tend to Think That Life is Happening TO Us
The thoughts that I was having were things like this—
Why did this happen AGAIN?
Shouldn’t my doctor have warned me?
Should I tell my mom? Will she worry too much if I do?
Most of the time, life looks like it’s outside of us and happening TO us.
This is an illusion.
When we believe the illusion, we feel helpless. Especially when bad or difficult things happen.
I think that there must have been something that I could have done to avoid it.
I feel bad about myself.
I feel like I am being a burden and that people don’t want to help me.
What is Life, Actually?
But what if it didn’t have to look like this?
Questioning what your life is, and who you are, is the first step toward making a GIANT change on how you approach things.
How you feel about your life and what is happening in it.
First, notice one thing—
You are never directly experiencing anything outside of yourself. You can’t.
You are only experiencing two things—
First, whatever your sense organs and brain tell you about what is going on, both inside and outside your body.
Second, whatever stories you tell yourself about those sensations—whether they are good or bad, whether you like them or not, whether or not in your view they “should” be happening.
All of this is happening in your mind. Only in your mind.
So, from that perspective, your experience of life is always and only internal.
Always and only a model of your life that you are creating. It is never the “real” world, the “true” reality. We are not capable of experiencing that. Ever.
Most of us are not aware of this.
And even when we are, most of us create most of our experience of life unconsciously.
But consciously or unconsciously, we are always creating.
And when we see this, we can choose to create our experience differently.
One way, a highly leveraged way, is to look at what assumptions we make about life itself.
What if Life is Happening For You?
If I assume life is “out there,” happening “to me,” that leads me to other assumptions that may or may not be true—
That I am a victim.
That my problems are caused by “other people.”
That I have little or no control over most of the aspects of my life.
But what if I experiment with a different assumption? What if I experiment with the idea that life is happening FOR me?
What assumptions does that bring?
That there is something bigger than me that is looking out for me, that is presenting lessons for me, that is in some larger sense, taking care of me.
That there is a plan, even if I don’t understand in every moment what the plan is.
I want to be clear. I DO NOT KNOW if either if these assumptions—that life is is happening to me or for me—is true.
But what I do know is that when I look for that level of care, for the teaching, for the lessons, and for the gentle way in which they are presented, I can easily find them.
Take my medical emergency.
Yes, it is easy to think WHY ME? WHY NOW?
But had it happened at any other time or in any other place it could have been a lot more difficult.
I was with a friend, rather than at my mom’s (I would have had to call an ambulance there, and she would have completely panicked).
I was at a small town ER on a Sunday morning. I was literally the only patient there. Talk about feeling cared for by life.
I had already blocked a week off my calendar, other than a few calls. And I was with my 87-year-old mom, where life is already very slow. I could not have been better prepared to have a week of limited mobility.
After getting the catheter out, and talking with my urologist, I am now more prepared for future occurrences, without really suffering any more than was needed. The only suffering that I really had was my hesitation to wake my friend in the middle of the night. And that was my choice.
I have learned, again, that despite my constant hesitation to ask, that I can rely on people and that they want to help me.
Just that is a tremendous gift.
What Would It Mean To You To See This?
This week, take a look at some of the difficulties in your life. The things that you say you didn’t want, or that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.
A personal health crisis. The illness or death of someone close to you. A chronic challenge.
What was the learning? What was the gift? What was the blessing? What was it that you could not have learned in any other way?
Want To Go Deeper In This Conversation?
I am dedicated to the idea that all you ever need or want to be is YOU.
You with all your gifts. And all the things you instinctively hide, too.
What would that be like? To fully embrace you and THEN create, rather than thinking you have to create to someone FIX yourself?
This is what I write about. For founders, for original thinkers, at all stages of their journey.
The world needs YOU, in all your brilliance and imperfection.
If you are a founder wanting to scale and sell your company, there are three shifts in identity that can help you do so with twice the impact and half the stress. Take a look at this video.
If you want to build a coaching business where you get to be yourself, help amazing people, and replace your corporate income in the process, here’s a video where I share the top three mistakes I see coaches make when trying to build a sustainable business—
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