Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

When Things Don’t Go Our Way

         I recently received the news that a very large investment that I had made upon the advice of someone I trusted has gone bankrupt. This investment has been a major source of stress for me over the last two years and despite my best efforts we have had to make the decision to shut down and liquidate. This has raised a swarm of emotions that aren’t positive. These are the negative emotions that I have been focusing my spiritual practice to heal for a long time. This has rocked me down to my core and raised all of those self-defeating emotions that I thought I had healed.

            Life is first and foremost what happens when you have something else planned. I know all about the platitudes that we can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond and how we feel about ourselves. All of that is fine when we are dealing with what I call the mouse turds of life, but when the earthquake comes and our foundations are destroyed, it is a totally different matter. Especially difficult to deal with is the fear of the future, which is the mother of all negative emotions.

            It is really important in times of fundamental change to focus on practices that lift our spirit. This is what spiritual and/or religious practices are for. We do ceremonies and activities that allow us to change the way we feel about life to more positive attitudes. The first of these practices is gratitude. When we practice gratitude, we actually allow our brain to produce serotonin and melatonin. This makes us feel better. There are several self-defeating things I have discovered we all do when we are faced with life changing loss, including worst case scenario thinking, self-crucifixion, denial and blaming. These habitual activities may make us perversely feel like we are accomplishing something, but they actually are making things worse.

            It is much more important to move on. It may feel important to do post-mortems, but not really. It is more constructive to start making decisions to take baby steps in whatever direction we have available to us. Sometimes things happen and it isn’t anyone’s fault. Most people do the best they can, and it just doesn’t work out the way we planned. When in the midst of huge loss, if we can reach deep inside of ourselves and find kindness we can start to rebuild. Sitting in our pity pot and blaming the world for not giving us what we want is a bigger waste of time than picking up the pieces and moving on.

            Another healing practice is to love our self. Just because it didn’t happen the way we wanted doesn’t mean we did it wrong. I truly believe that whatever force in the universe that is bigger than our limited awareness can perceive is not out to get us. God/source/higher self/universe is conspiring to shower us with abundance, but when in our limited consciousness we feel abandoned and rejected we may miss the gravy train. So we have to be our own cheerleader and start looking for the opportunities that inevitably will come. There are no such things as failures, only changes in direction.

            Sometimes God/source/higher self/universe is telling us to change. If we resist those messages, we will end up on dead ends roads that take us nowhere. When the lightning strikes, and our foundations are rocked, cracked or destroyed, we have to go in whatever direction we can. It really is about having faith that positive attitudes and motivation will have positive results. Although we have to take responsibility for our actions, we don’t have to beat our self up about it. The only difference between a “winner” and a “loser” is how they feel about themselves. Given the exact same circumstances, the “winners” will rise to the surface and the “losers” will sink. Many times this is simply a matter of faith, trust and patience. We can’t change what is happening, but we can change how we perceive it. When we perceive events as positive events we do not get stuck in the denial we can experience when we perceive events as negative events. The truth is there are no “winners” or “losers”, only our perception and judgment.

            I do not know at this point what will happen next. I will make plans and do whatever I can to sort it all out. I am past the denial and shock of what happened. That was only momentary. It is human to have emotions, and divine to let the negative ones go through us like clouds passing overhead. I am doing everything I know to do and that is enough. I have experienced the dread of getting out of bed in the morning, as I have experienced the excitement of getting out of bed to discover what will happen next. It is just as easy to focus on one of those as the other.

            In the final analysis, the only thing we all have in common is life. I keep reminding myself what an incredible gift life is (the “present”). I am the first to admit that I have no clue what the future holds, but I have hope and faith that as the roller coaster has valleys, the next thing that comes is the peak. So my chin goes up, I breathe deeply and I look for ways to serve. After all, what else is there to do?