Dr Bev Smallwood

Articles Library: Leadership

Rise Above It

I am blessed and inspired by the letters I receive from subscribers.With her permission, I'd like to share excerpts from an email from a woman I'll call Mary. As she is going through a divorce, she's discovering secrets of rising above unexpected hardships. Her words will be in quotes, followed by my responses to her.

"I am currently going through a divorce and am feeling (I am sure this is normal), how could this happen to me?"

Yes, Mary, this is a normal feeling. However, listen closely to the assumption that underlies this feeling. The element of surprise is based on the myth that "bad things shouldn't happen to good people." In other words, since you treat others right, everyone will treat you right.

While good treatment of others certainly increases the probability of receiving good treatment, it's no guarantee. Other people are free to choose. Don't blame yourself for others' choices. As a citizen of a crazy world, a better question is, "Why not me?"

Key #1: Don't Get Hung Up on, "Why Me?"

Mary continues, "My husband and I are facing mid-life in much different ways. As my hair grays, my waistline increases, and my eyesight has changed, I look on it as a science project. Kind of like the seed in a cup. I find it fascinating to see which of my parents I'm aging like. My husband bought the big red motorcycle. Died his beard and started hanging out with 20-somethings. How silly! He eventually got a detached Achilles tendon and ended up slightly disabled for nine months. This sent him into a downward spiral. He started turning to strangers on the Internet for comfort…of course, a woman."

What a delightful experimental approach you have, Mary! Contrast that with your husband's futile attempts to deny life's realities.

Key #2: Embrace the Inevitable As An Adventuresome Experiment

She adds, "He worries about everyone who's died in his life. He bemoans the fact that he's had to start wearing glasses. I know my grandmother will die, so I go out of my way to take her flowers now and not for her grave. My grandmother has osteoporosis, so I've learned from that. I take steps to prevent brittle bones and think about what I should do to minimize my physical decline."

Mary, your approach is wise, for what you focus on, grows.

If you are constantly noticing and talking about what you don't have, you will constantly be experiencing "lack." If fact, you will lose more and more because you will do less and less. Instead, you are focusing on what you have and taking small action steps. Watch your resources grow!

Key #3: Do What You Can With What You Have

Mary shares more: "I did everything. I finally got him to go see our doctor and get on an antidepressant, which he didn't take regularly. I gave him TLC, and I gave him tough love. A few weeks ago, he told me he didn't care about me and I discovered he had two Internet identities. Then I had a life-altering event…a small stroke that left me numb on the entire left side of my body. I'm only 42. This woke me up. I decided to start taking care of me for a change. This was definitely a message from God, so when the craziness started again, I said, 'Enough is enough!' I'm now in a wonderful divorce care support group at my church, and it has been a Godsend. I'm trying to get back into my old skin, and my friends tell me I've made great strides toward becoming the old me. All he does is feel worse. The better I feel about myself, the worse he feels about himself. But I know I have to move onward and upward. As I rock and roll my way through my 40's, I find that I'm not alone."

How right you are, Mary! You won't have anything left to give to others if you don't take care of yourself. I applaud you for seeking the caring support of others who understand.

Key #4: Work On Yourself; You're the Only Person You Can Change.

With your attitude, Mary, I can say with confidence that your life is definitely not over. You have a lot to give, and you'll experience the healing you need to make a new and fulfilling life.

Thank you, Mary, for inspiring all of us to rise above our difficult circumstances and to move onward and upward!

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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