Lately, I have been thinking about when life gives us lemons. Such a polite way to refer to those devastating moments we have little to no control over. Y’know the ones I mean.
Death of someone close. Loss of a job or a business. Divorce. Horrible illnesses that happen to ourselves and our loved ones. Those bloody awful times for which we are unprepared, have no training or experience, and which knock us off our comfortable routine in life. Covid has undoubtedly been in that category for so many.
And having been knocked over more than a few times now AND bounced back, I’d like to share just a bit of the life lemon lessons I have gleaned. Perhaps they will help you get through whatever comes at you.
I believe there are four stages we all glide through. How long we remain in each stage depends on the depth and the severity of the incident. The four stages are Shock, Shame, Identity, and Healing.
It doesn’t matter what happens; the first emotion is always Shock. I didn’t ask for this. Why me? What kind of sick joke is this? How could this happen? How did it happen TO me? What did I do to deserve this? I don’t need this right now.
The second stage is Shame. And this one is insidious. It starts low-grade but, with enough time, will fester into a full-blown paralyzing cacoon. What will people think of me? I look and feel like a loser. How can I keep my head up high? I shoulda, woulda, coulda and I didn’t. (Or maybe, yabut, I did and look at the result I got.)
Identity is the worst stage. Because when we believe we have lost our identity, it is we who are lost. Without a job, a business, a spouse or favourite relative, even good health, we now travel in an entirely new and utterly foreign world. And this stage is the hardest to move through. We’ve all seen people who become shells of their former selves, who develop massive chips on their shoulders and who retreat into a smaller and smaller world.
I don’t have the silver bullet for this one. There is no one-size-fits-all. What I can share are my philosophy and a few nuggets.
First, if there is a will, there will ALWAYS be a way. Absolutely nothing happens to us. Everything happens FOR us. (And yes, it isn’t easy, especially in the beginning to see the good in any of it.) When we choose to heal, we come out better for it. We realize we have strengths we never knew we had. And if we look closely, we are BETTER for the whole experience.
1. The first step towards healing is a desire to do so. Without that desire, nothing will happen. And finding the desire is both easy and difficult.
2. The healing piece will take as long as it takes – and it will always be much longer than any of us can imagine or want.
3. There are two pieces to the healing: the physical and mental pieces. For maximum results, BOTH must be addressed.
4. We can’t do it alone. We all need help. That help will come from our immediate loved ones, caring neighbours, and devoted friends. In addition, it will likely involve some professional help – and professional help is easy to find when we are in the right headspace.
5. And finally. We are the same creatures we were in our childhood, in the years before and after the incident. Our essence does NOT change. Our identity is buried in our souls and waits for the perfect time to reveal itself.
Interested in talking about your life lemons? Reach out. I’m listening.