You Are Not What Happens To You
“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”—Stephen Covey
You are not what happens to you but it is how you respond to it that shapes your future. Listen, we’ve all had bad things happen, some more than others, yet that doesn’t diminish the events of the past. Perhaps you retreated into yourself to find solace and meaning on why the events took place. Stop! Stop trying to make sense of what happened because we spend unnecessary mental and emotional energy trying to figure out life.
To rationalise life logically is a battle we seldom win. What makes me certain of this you ask? Having coached hundreds of people over the past decade and through my own ordeals, I‘ve come to realise that making sense of what happens to us is a futile battle that only results in pain and disappointment. The mental and emotional energy is better spent trying to find solutions instead of contextualising its meaning.
Life is not what happens to us, it is how we respond and grow from the experiences that shapes our destiny. It is what the American Zen Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax means when she writes in Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet about accepting everything that shows up in our life including the difficult moments: “I have come to see the profound value of taking in the whole landscape of life and not rejecting or denying what we are given. I have also learned that our waywardness, difficulties, and “crises” might not be terminal obstacles. They can actually be gateways to wider, richer internal and external landscapes.”
Does this make sense because it’s worth spending time to understand you are not what happens to you but who you become because of it? The events of the past took place based on your level of awareness. Put simply, if you want to do large-scale renderings using the latest Adobe Illustrator program on an 80’s built computer, the program might require more than what the computer can process. However, if you upgrade your hardware, it can perform these functions easier. Our troubles and disappointments occur because our level of awareness does not match the experience taking place.
So if our significant other breaks up with us, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us, only our growth at the time was not a match to maintain the relationship. If we lose our job or our health suffers, it is because our level of consciousness is not at the level to sustain those things. A popular aphorism states: “To grow thyself, know thyself.” As we grow in consciousness, we develop the ability to give more of ourselves and attract circumstances consistent with our level of consciousness. It is why the rich and wealthy are rich and wealthy. They’ve developed a wealth and prosperity consciousness owing to years of self-improvement and personal growth. It is why those who are fit and healthy maintain healthy lives because they’ve developed a consciousness to sustain that way of being. And this is a very important principle because if we improve ourselves, we undoubtedly see the results manifest in our lives.
I hope this idea resonates with you because it is necessary understanding this principle. The message is that nothing happens to us which we don’t allow, irrespective of whether we are conscious or unconscious. The latter is problematic because if we are oblivious to our motives, we make automated decisions not congruent with our greater self. Considering this, reflect on your own life, particularly the past. Have there been times when your career, health or relationships suffered because of what you were certain of?
I recall more than a dozen examples of what I knew with certainty, was incomplete. Often, what we think we know about life can lead us down a trail of self-destruction. It is when we let go of preconceived ideas of how life should be that we experience life becoming itself. Life knows what it needs to become and if we are attached to how this should unfold, we limit its potential to occur. It is in releasing and renewing we discover the essence of our life’s narrative. The lesson here is that your circumstances whether past or present do not make up who you are, but adds a narrative to who you will become. This, my friends, determines the future you’re destined to live.