Most of us have heard the old saying, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." This sounds cute, but how many of us really do it? Most of the time when something happens in my life that sucks, I complain and feel sorry for myself. I used to let the list of injustices or terrible experiences build up until I felt like a martyr. Although this sometimes got me some attention and pity, it wasn't really worth the pain it caused me. Life threw me lemons and I let them rot.
I started to learn how to make lemonade right after I was divorced. I had been out of the dating scene for many years and was quite nervous about being single again. I began to meet eligible single men and had a number of disappointing, unpleasant experiences. After one brief but dreadful relationship ended, I was extremely depressed. As I began to recover from my misery, I asked myself if there was anything I could do to avoid having this happen again.
Then I came up with the realization that it was time to make lemonade! I wrote myself this 3 Step Directive about dating that also applied to any difficult situation that made me feel defeated:
- There is no right or wrong.
- There is only what happened and what I learn from it.
- What have I just learned?
I have used that formula ever since, whenever I had an awful experience. Sometimes I write down what I've learned as soon as I realize what the lesson is. Other times, it takes a while for me to figure out that I have accumulated too many lemons and need to get to work. Occasionally, I avoid facing unpleasant situations or issues until I suffer a physical wake up call in the form of illness or pain that stops my life in its tracks until I acknowledge the problem and deal with it.
Many years ago, I endured an excruciating bout of sciatica that laid me low. I had been writing a book and enjoyed sitting at the computer for long periods of time, but I was in so much pain that I couldn't sit at my computer for more than a few minutes, so I had to stop that project. I couldn't drive or do much walking either. I had trouble sitting during counseling sessions without an ice pack on my lower back and leg. I was so miserable that I forgot to practice what I preach.
My usual daily workout at that time consisted of walking on my treadmill. While I walked, I practiced centering activities to release stress, resolve conflicts and allow myself to be open to creative ideas to write about. I usually completed my routine by focusing on positive affirmations. However, since I couldn't exercise, I wasn't performing my morning ritual either.
Consequently, I stopped dealing with my life issues. Fortunately, when I went to see my acupuncturist for treatment for my lower back pain, she could tell that I was holding a lot of anger. Right there and then she made me tap on some specific energy points to release anger. As I followed her instructions, it dawned on me that I hadn't asked myself an important question about the symbolism of my condition, "What in my life is a pain in the butt?"
It turned out that underneath my rage toward my body for having a condition that put me out of commission and caused me to be totally helpless were other more pertinent negative emotions. My perfectionist critical self was upset because I had not finished my book according to the schedule I had set for myself, my teenage daughter was acting out and I was frustrated with her, and my ex-husband had stopped paying child support! I had many lemons to squeeze to release all the stress I had accumulated!
That episode of being incapacitated and experiencing terrible pain was a gift in disguise. I discovered that instead of sulking about how unfair life was, I was being offered the opportunity to examine my life and question some of my beliefs and expectations about my definition of success and my fears of being alone and powerless.
Sciatica forced me to surrender! I had no option. I had to lie there, face my fears, and transform them. It turned out to be an intensely spiritual experience. Now that I look back on the incident, I can say that sciatica served a purpose in my life. The Greek Philosopher Plato said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I first read that advice as a college sophomore and took it as my motto.
The older I get, the more I'm reminded of its truth, especially when I watch the news and hear about all the ways we're harming ourselves, each other, and our world. I hope that you will consider adopting Plato's wisdom as your motto also. It's another way of reminding yourself to keep making lemonade by learning to see each unfortunate event in your life as an opportunity.
You will discover that using EFT tapping will help you overcome the pesky problems that come to light. Follow the instructions in Five Simple Steps to Emotional Healing and EFT Tapping: 64 Quick & Easy Tips.
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