“Whenever something negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it.” -Eckhart Tolle
I was a senior in high school and just weeks away from crossing that imaginary finish line to mark the end of being a kid. I was bursting at the seams with excitement in anticipation for this day to come because naively I thought the minute I officially graduated high school, all my painful childhood problems would vanish and my life would restart with a fresh clean slate in this new stage called adulthood.
Well I was wrong.
Not only was there no clean slate, but things were about to get a lot messier. A lot more complicated. And A LOT more painful.
It was late afternoon on a weekday in early June. I was obsessively trying to cram several textbooks into my brain for the upcoming provincial exams when my mom came into my room and sat on the edge of my bed. She looked flustered and disoriented, and with a trembling voice she said,
“Cherrie…..I need to tell you something…”. She swallowed hard as if the words were lodged in her throat and after a long pause, she slowly whispered, “Your dad…..he…..tried to end his own life today…..He’s alright…..but…..I don’t know what will happen in the future and I need you to be strong.”
Several months before, my dad had been diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety disorder. And in the months leading up to his attempt to leave us behind he had completely isolated himself from the world and refused to let even the closest people in.
The suicide attempt was only the beginning of the long and treacherous journey ahead. One filled with turbulent moods, battles of addiction, and failed attempts to try to keep our family from shattering into a million pieces.
At times it stung so deep I opted to block everything out and pretended like it never happened. And when I had the courage to face it, I was overwhelmed with emotions that I didn’t know what to do with.
It has been a tough battle for the past 14 years, and although my dad’s illness is still very prominent today, I have learned many lessons along the way that keep me moving forward each day in hopes of giving him strength to continue his life better than the way it was yesterday.
Here are the top 7 life lessons I’ve learned from our struggles:
1. Don’t keep things bottled up
Our emotions need an outlet and keeping everything locked up in an iron safe behind a brick wall goes against our souls desire. Suppressing negative feelings is like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and the aftermath doesn’t do anybody any good.
2. Let go of the past
Don’t cry over spilt milk. What’s happened has happened and there is nothing you can do to change the past. Forget the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s and take past hurt as an experience to learn and grow from.
3. Live in the now
Each day brings with it a special gift. Be present and treasure each moment as it is happening. Release any desire to add in excess baggage from the past or worries about the future.
4. Look for the positive in negative situations
The glass can either be half empty or half full. Looking at the good things amongst bad circumstances brings a whole new perspective of abundance that can prevent you from falling into a downward spiral of negative thoughts. It can also trigger the release of oxytoxin, “the happy hormone” in the brain.
5. Overcome your fears
Fear is an essential part of life, but how you deal with it can either leave you frozen dead in your tracks or propel you to new heights. Step out of your comfort zone and discover your potential of doing great things. [tweet this].
6. Trust that everything will work out
Believe that everything happens for a reason and that no obstacle is too difficult for you to overcome. As painful as things may be now, know that something bigger and better is waiting for you on the other side. So keep moving forward no matter how small the steps.
7. Be grateful
Look beyond what currently isn’t working and count your blessings on everything you DO have.
Every day, I am grateful that my dad is still alive and I have the opportunity to inspire him to make it better.
So with Father’s Day just a few days away, I dedicate this post to my Dad and to everyone who is facing some tough challenges or has a friend or family member stuck at a roadblock in their life.
Be Strong. Be Brave. Be Resilient.
Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What ah-ha’s have you gotten from negative events in your life?