It's a Choice

I’m learning people respond when you share your fears. I was afraid of the changes my divorce would create in my life, and it seems a lot of you fear what negative changes can do in your lives as well. Since my last piece, Making the Most of a bad Situation, I’ve gotten messages like “I know exactly what you were going through” or “Why would you share such a personal story?” But the majority of responders wanted to know ‘HOW’ I made the most of a bad situation. What exactly did I do? I would like to share with you a few simple (but not easy) steps that I ended up taking to see myself through to a better quality of life. These principles are applicable to any circumstance in life that you wish were different. The first thing I had to do was…

Make a choice to remain committed to making the most of your bad situation

Many people asked how I could just ‘decide’ to make the most of not seeing my children everyday. “I don’t work that way Brad. I’m not like you. I can’t just decide to feel better or to make the most of this terrible situation.” Let me tell you a secret… I wasn’t like that either. But the only alternative I could see with keeping my current mentality at the time was misery. Who wants to CHOOSE misery? No one. But if you keep the limiting belief that you aren’t the type of person who simply ‘chooses’ to live a better life, that’s exactly what you’ll get… more misery. Let me ask you something about your limiting belief… How’s that working for you?

But what if it is possible to remain in what you consider a ‘bad situation’ and still find a way to live an extraordinary life? I am telling you right now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you can do exactly that. I am continually amazed by the people I work with when I see them make a choice to change and remain committed to it. The power of ‘choice’ is amazing. It changes their outlook, their story, and then their circumstances end up changing. This is a decision that will change your life FOREVER. It has changed mine. After you make that choice, it’s crucial that you…

Own your pain and anger

So often I hear from people who are trying to remove themselves from the pain of their life. Ironically, the quickest way to remove the pain from your life is to go directly through it. If you’re mad, be mad. If you’re hurt, acknowledge that hurt. Don’t try to cram it down inside and hide it. Don’t try to lessen it with drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, relationships, or whatever that thing is you do when you’re trying to hide. Open your heart and chest up and let it hit you full force. The sooner you own exactly how you feel and why, the sooner you process through to the next season of your life. Once you have owned your pain, named it, and processed through it…

Forgive whoever hurt you

I don’t know who hurt you. Maybe it was your spouse, or a family member, a friend, or someone at work. I don’t know your situation. In my circumstance I felt crushed by my wife at the time because I did not want my marriage to end. I could have stayed bitter and angry. I could choose to hold it against her even now. But that doesn’t serve anyone, least of all me. It’s impossible to change your life outlook and make the most of your circumstances if you are holding on to the past. You don’t forgive someone for their sake… you forgive someone for your own sake. How do you choose love if you’re holding on to hate? You can’t. It can feel so unnatural to forgive when you’re hurting so deeply, yet experience tells us that life is better when we are holding on to less. I can honestly say that I am grateful to my ex for making the choices she did. Because it forced me to make a choice. To get determined that I was going to make not only the best of the situation, but to make my life even better than before.

Forgive yourself

I am culpable in the demise of my marriage. Looking back, I can clearly see where I could have made wiser choices that would have healthier impacts on my failed marriage. In the beginning of my marriage, I was angry and didn’t know why. I had control issues, and I was so afraid for my wife at the time to see the real me, flaws and all. Now maybe you didn’t make any mistakes at all that contributed to your ‘bad situation’. But I did and it weighed on me. I had to come to the place where I could forgive myself for my shortcomings and let it go. I had to release myself from my anger, disappointment and frustration. It’s not an easy thing to do, but just like forgiving others, its a choice first and a feeling later.

Attach positive meaning

Remember, you’ve already made the decision to choose the best in your situation. Finding any positive meanings in the midst of it is crucial to provide the motivation to move forward. It changes your over all outlook. What are the lessons you’re learning in this particular situation? How might they raise your quality of life moving forward? In what ways might you grow because of what is happening in your life right now? How might your relationships deepen because of your ‘bad’ situation? How might your heart expand? These questions will lead you to some positive meanings immediately. In turn, you will begin to see that all is not lost and that you can happen to this situation as much as it happens to you.

Make a list of all the possible ways you could make your life better

This is where action takes place. Make a list of all the ways that you could change to better your life right now. Write down 10-15 things you could do today that would turn things around for you. Are you living with all your heart? Are there ways that you aren’t ‘showing up’ in your life because of your circumstance? Don’t let your ‘bad situation’ rob you of the opportunities that still lay before you to raise your quality of life.  Then begin acting them immediately.  As in RIGHT NOW.

I promise you this… if you do these 6 things in the midst of your ‘bad situation’, your life will never be the same. Some will read this and scoff. I know I have spent time mocking similar advice in my past. But, having followed these steps, and with much grace, during the most difficult time in my life, things turned around. Today, I love my life and I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” – Wayne Dyer

“Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude.” – Nick Vujicic

“The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” – Charles R. Swindoll

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