“Is life fair?” Reflect on this for a moment. I suspect that most of us would argue that it isn’t. However, how we deal with life’s difficulties and injustices says more about us than you’d think.
If like me, you’ve found 2010 one of the toughest years on record, where the relentless pressure at times was simply too much to bear and you can’t wait to see the back of it, I invite you to ponder: was it in essence a ‘bad’ year, in the sense of experiencing a lot of ‘bad’ things happening? Or, rather as a result, was it in truth a ‘good’ one?
As Ram Dass reminds us “everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation”. Circumstances and events on their own do not have meaning. It is we who ascribe it, cataloguing and interpreting each one in relation to past events and situations which, in our mind, appear to have a similar resonance. The labels we choose to place on our daily experiences – in terms of pleasurable, challenging and painful – ultimately determine not only the way we choose to perceive them but the quality of life, happiness, inner peace and well-being we derive as a result.
This year, a mixture of immense personal financial and relationship difficulties, along with the pressure of having to meet a study deadline which had been deferred due to ill health, as well as coping with the chronic ongoing health condition that for years has seriously compromised my physical mobility, left me reeling, confused and in a state of despair. However, when the guilt of “how could I have allowed this to happen?” subsided along with my victimhood perception, all gradually began to become clear. For years, hadn’t I been the one who’d asked to experience inner peace and self-love? And hey-presto, that’s what the Universe delivered, but not in the packaging I’d expected! Here was the opportunity to obtain what I’d so desired. I had a choice: to view myself as a victim or master of my own destiny.
Within each of us lies a vast ocean of infinite love and potential. For many, it remains indeed an untapped resource. When accessed, however, its gifts are acceptance, non-judgement and (inner) peace. One of the main tragedies in life is failure to see ourselves as we truly are beneath the countless masks we wear to hide our insecurities, our vulnerabilities. Many conceive of vulnerability as a weakness. However, the vulnerability of which I speak is not born of foolishness nor innocent naiveté; rather, it is the ability to open oneself to others and the world in the full knowledge and awareness of one’s own personal power, in complete, unquestioning trust of and faith in oneself, life and the Universe. Such an ability comes as the result of immense inner strength, courage and personal power. It is called ‘love’. Often understood as an emotion, love is crucially, as Dr David Hawkins highlights, “a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others.”
We constrain, however, this infinite love, this boundless potential to the narrowness of our limited perception, mainly by feeding ourselves lies. Lies in terms of how others have labelled us, (which we internalise), and lies in terms of how we view ourselves and our ability to transcend our own circumstances. The truth is, we each have the innate power to make what we want of everything in our world – people, events and circumstances. We are born with this power. It is not something we earn. It is part of our God-given abilities… This also is the love that allows us to be gentle with ourselves when we make mistakes, which after all, is part of the human condition. Lest we forget that we are all students in the classroom of life…
When our buttons get pushed, the tendency is often to interpret people or events in negative ways, in accordance with our own inner narrative of limited self-beliefs. When we feel rejected, by someone, for example, this may confirm our own negative self-belief of unworthiness. However, this is not the case. Firstly, none of us, on a spiritual level, is less worthy than another; we are all love, of equal value. If however we choose to experience a feeling of lack of self-worth, as hard as it may be to swallow and as traumatic as our own personal histories may have been in influencing us in creating and maintaining such beliefs, at the end of the day, it is solely of our own choosing if we continue to nurture such experiences.
In life no situation or person can define who and what we are. It is we who convey the power – our power – to external sources. Often, our interpretation of the ‘facts’ may not be an accurate one. Much of what we tend to interpret as other people’s negative behaviour towards us is frequently as a result of their own emotional baggage of which we simply happen to be on the receiving end, at any given moment. We can choose to behave as victims in seeking to attribute blame. Alternatively, we can suspend judgement, not take it personally, let it go and move on, thereby making the choice to experience the freedom and empowerment that thus derives. In so doing, we not only release judgement of the other but most especially of ourselves.
So, in response to the query: “is life fair?” True, it’s often unfair in many ways. How we elect to respond to whatever difficulties it brings, however, is crucial. Let us not allow ourselves to be shaped by circumstances; rather, let us make the choice of how we allow circumstances to define us. Learning to read reality ‘with different eyes’ may not be easy. It takes inner courage, strength, self-discipline and determination, as well as the ability to remain constantly vigilant to one’s inner emotional state. It may not be for the faint-hearted but its absence relegates us to the role of victim. If, instead, we open up to the possibility of expressing gratitude for the learning that comes from the knowledge that there may indeed be a silver-lining to an unfortunate circumstance, not only do we transform ourselves and our concepts of reality, we experience the true nature of peace and all that is. This surely is the art of living life to the fullest.