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June 8, 2014

What if it was a Gift?

by alive

Short Take: Motivation and Meaning

egg on faceIn Life we often get thrown curved balls we can’t catch and egg in the face we can’t dodge.


At times like this I find a question (attributed to marriage therapist Dr Robert Glover) extremely empowering.


What if it was a Gift?


If something bad, unpleasant, disappointing, or heartbreaking happens, this question has often helped me derive something positive from it, often in the form of:

  • a realization, about who I am, what my weaknesses are, an honest evaluation of what the situation really was and how I can improve
  • recognizing an opportunity that I was heretofore blind to
  • an escape from a situation that would have caused me even more harm had it continued
  • a new direction I would never have considered, but which led me to new experiences and new lessons
  • a renewed determination to work on something I knew I had to do, but didn’t really have the motivation to before


In a nutshell: The answer to this power question makes whatever happened a catalyst for positive change.


How Might This Work?


Here are some examples:

Example 1: I lost my job

What if it was a gift?

You’ve been moaning and complaining about being underpaid and over worked. Your health and mental state has suffered for the last four years because of this. You’ve wanted to start your own business for the longest time and you’ve known that the longer you start the harder it will be. You were also drawing a regular salary and that comfort zone of living for the weekends was causing you to waste away time and opportunity as well.

This could be just the right kick you need to get you started, with nothing to fall back on, and hence everything to strive for. It also teaches you not to take things for granted, and the importance of always growing, striving and preparing for something better.


Example 2: I just sustained a major injury

What if it was a gift?

You’ve been obsessed with exercise, pushing your body without proper treatment and recovery, relying on stopgaps  like guards, pain meds, visits to the massage therapist and the TCM practitioner, pain tolerance and luck.

This injury is your body forcing you to rest before you do irreparable damage. But it’s also forcing you to reevaluate your priorities, your dreams, and the real reasons you pushed yourself so hard. Perhaps pain was a friend distracting you from a lack of fulfilment. Downed by this injury, you are forced to consider a more moderate approach, an alternate route to getting what you really want, and more balance in your Life.


Example 3: I found out my girlfriend was double-timing me

What if it was a gift?

The relationship was either not a happy one, or it was one of convenience where you were deemed useful for something. It might be money, a listening ear, or as an emotional crutch to help her get through a rough patch in Life.

If you hadn’t found out you would have continued wasting energy, emotion, time and money on a relationship that was not honest. You would have continued playing a one-sided giving role until you were discarded when no longer deemed useful, losing the opportunity to meet someone really good, maybe even risk getting a disease. This event forces you to demand higher standards in a relationship. It also forces you to do a self evaluation, understand how you should improve as a person or a boyfriend, and become a better person for the next relationship.



Why Does This Work?


Many people are trapped by inertia. Even negative situations like a low paid job or depression over a loss, are ‘comfort zones’ because they are routine and familiar, and getting out of them can be frightening.


Don’t believe me? Look around. People are drifting without direction, occupied in mindless endeavours that really just kill time and fail to answer their deepest questions and greatest wants.


How many people hate their jobs and talk about quitting when they’re angry, but years later, are still in the same dead-end job?


How many people have lost a relationship, but months later, are still wallowing away in a cul-de-sac of inactivity and self-pity?


kick in the buttNo, they need a visceral jolt to get them out of it.

First you need a shock – the event, whatever it is.

But second, you need a conduit to channel that shock into change.


This question is that conduit, but you have to ask it. Then answer it.


If you don’t, that event will just be another one that hurts and traps you in a never-ending cycle of ennui that reinforces the first.


Learn from our mistakes and misfortunes. Then come away from that changed for the better.


Then what happened would really have been for something.


Because sometimes, it really is a gift.


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