Your Cross to Bear

Is there something that has occurred in your life that you feel “is just not fair”? Maybe it’s situational–your parents divorced, your spouse left you, the business went bankrupt, you experienced a miscarriage–and you say to yourself, “This just isn’t fair.”

Often, we inherit it: a predisposition toward drug or alcohol addiction or an illness such as arthritis, lupus, diabetes, or obesity.

Sometimes we learn it. It becomes ingrained in our daily lives: such as a habit disorder–like smoking, overeating or gambling.

Clients will come into the office and describe a chronic condition or situation that they have had to deal with in their lives. Frequently, the client is justifiably angry because their condition or situation has caused quite a hardship. Oftentimes, a client has felt that the condition has robbed them of rich experiences or a future they could have had.

I often tell them that their life circumstances are “their cross to bear”. We all have at least one cross that we bear, and I believe it is our responsibility to grow stronger because of it. You learned last week that out of painful experiences you develop strength and authenticity.

We are all dealt different hardships in life and we decide how we grow and develop as a result. Albert Einstein was born with learning disabilities and yet he didn’t allow them to stop him from developing his genius. Helen Keller may have been blind, but as a result she learned to express her wisdom in prophetic ways.

As you review your life, is there a cross that you bear? Is there something in your life that you felt just wasn’t fair? Have you used it to your advantage? Have you grown stronger because of it? Are you an advocate for others because of your own pain?

How you live your life is your choice. You don’t ever have to be a victim to life’s circumstances. You can always choose to better yourself or your community because of your own personal experience.

What does it take to develop such a proactive attitude? It requires that you:
•Recognize the loss/d pain that occurred as a result of your situation.
•Acknowledge the strength that you have gained from it.
•Make choices that push beyond the limitations of your struggles
•Look for opportunities to improve your life or the lives of others.

Let me share a personal example. At age 28, I was told that I had no estrogen left and I was postmenopausal. My doctor indicated that my internal organs looked like those of a woman in her 50s or 60s. I had significant bone density loss. I was devastated. I had always wanted children.

After experiencing loss, grief and anger, I made the conscious decision to take care of my body. I started an exercise program where I walked one mile a day. Twenty years later, I work out 1 1/2- to 2 hours daily. My bone density has improved three-fold. My exercise program has been a staple in my life and I believe it has been the foundation for my good mental health and positive attitude.

My positive attitude has afforded me the chance to write this column, do seminars, and inspire others. Am I still devastated by the loss of not having children? Of course. But I have made the choice to make my life full in other areas.

Take a look at your life and honor the situations that have been difficult for you. Decide how you have grown stronger and how you will use them to effect positive change.

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