Turn Obstacles into Opportunities

It had been eight weeks since I had spoken to our son. He was off to Navy Boot Camp. The first contact we had with him was one amazing, incredible, glorious letter I pulled out of the mailbox four weeks after he had left. It was three pages long and was enough to get me through the next four weeks. The one thing that was helping me get through this entire experience of our first son, not only leaving the nest, but leaving abruptly with no ability to connect for two months, was knowing that he’d be home for Christmas.

His first call home came on a Tuesday night. The three of us were sitting at the table and the phone rang. It was Tom! We all sat around the table with him on speaker phone for over an hour. He broke silence at one point to say, “I don’t want to kill the vibe, but it doesn’t look like I will be home for Christmas.” My heart sunk.

To my surprise, in the midst of this expectation getting shattered, I could feel there was something more important happening and suspended my own disappointment and sadness. It became more important in this moment to celebrate his excitement about the future and his own independent path that he had been sharing with us for all those minutes prior to the upsetting news.

While my heart was sad, there was something around the corner of the sadness that felt bigger and more important. I distinctly remember the moment of choice where I could either make this about me or make this about him and while I wanted to sulk in my own feelings, I knew that wasn’t the Mom I wanted to be for my son in this moment.

As I reflected later, I noticed how not only was I standing taller in this choice, it actually made me feel better too. 🙂

So, let’s imagine you received some news today that, on first appearance, feels like a road block, a set-back, or a curve ball.

Where does your mind first go?
What’s your pattern of response after that?
Is this pattern working for you?

If not, you might try this….

When we receive unexpected news, it’s common to default to the negative side…but, don’t forget to peek around the other side – you just might be surprised by what you find.

While the brain might initially fire thoughts of “This is terrible.” “How could this be?” “I can’t believe it.” “Why don’t things ever work out.” “I’ll never (fill in the blank)., etc…

On the flip side is an opportunity to consider…

What opportunity lies in this obstacle?
What could be perfect about this?
While this may close a door, does it open a different door?
And, ultimately, who do you want to BE in the face of what is happening?

I love having the freedom of choice in everyday life. I like to have the ability to consider all options before choosing. With lots of practice, it becomes almost second nature. You can do the same.

Ultimately, life will continue to unfold around us. We can label things good and bad or we can just see them as events. We can see it as “life happening to us” and feel at the mercy of the circumstance, or we can look through the lens of “life is unfolding for me” and see every circumstance as “life curriculum” and an opportunity to choose how we will navigate our way through. Either way will give you a very distinct and different experience. You get to choose your adventure.

Whatever you do, choose intentionally.