By Freda Emmons
Life is jam-packed with stuff, both positive and negative, uplifting and depleting. We each have a daily choice to make, whether to choose to focus on the positive, or be enveloped into depression and immobility by focusing on the negative. It is certainly important to address the negatives of life; indeed, acknowledging and dealing with every challenge that faces us builds strength and character. Ignoring the negative stuff in life in the hope it will all go away is like trying to build a makeshift house on a rubber raft – eventually everything will get wet. The choice to have a positive life-focus is healthy, life-affirming, and offers the best things of life, encouragement and hope.
I have learned a life-lesson by helping my adult daughter, who has high-functioning autism. She often has had a boulder placed before her that she could not surmount, such as a very confusing bank deposit slip that had all the details written in several languages. All the words overwhelmed her and she simply stopped and refused to use the bank. Even explaining the problem to me brought hot tears of frustration to my sweetheart of a daughter. I offered her a very small way to change out the problem, to make it easier to deal with the issues and surmount the boulder that blocked her way. I went to my desk and found a short, 6” ruler that she could carry with her. I showed her how to use the ruler to block out all of the lines, except the one she needed to fill out. Then, I directed her to focus only on the language she was familiar with and ignore the rest. With only one line, that was easy enough for her. When she completed that line, I showed her to move the ruler to the next and only deal with one line at a time. It worked for her and she was so very relieved to be able to do her banking!
The life-lesson, which has become a game-changer for me, is the idea of taking just one step at a time, dealing with problems in small, manageable steps. I no longer have to sink into a hole of depression because of the mound of problems facing me. I can deal with each one, using the time and energy I need to use to effectively manage the issues that come up. Then, it releases me to spend the majority of my time on the fact that 1) I have surmounted the boulders that threatened to block my progress, 2) I am no longer afraid that I lack the skills to face whatever plants itself ahead of me, and 3), I am able to focus more on the positives of life, the absolute beauty of nature, the joy of cherished family moments, and the great compassion within the human heart. I have room for the awe and wonder of exploring the expanse of the universe and space in my heart for a peaceful repose by a babbling mountain brook, surrounded by gorgeous trees and rustling leaves.
The negatives I have faced are real, hard, and horrible. I have survived childhood sexual abuse, which was an ongoing part of my youth. It left potholes of pain that I have had to gingerly clean out and fill with the healing salve of God’s love for me. I have learned to replace the demeaning thoughts that flowed so freely in my head with thoughts of my intrinsic value, as a child of God. I have even raised loftier thoughts to the forefront, that I am here with a purpose and I have the ability to offer the hope and healing I have received to others who have also suffered.
I choose every day, to take small steps of personal value, to face every problem head on, without fear, and then to focus most of my thoughts, actions, and energy to truly enjoying the life and beauty all around me. I remember the years I spent with dark clouds hovering over me, as if I carried them everywhere I went. I no longer choose to live under them; now the clouds come and go, just as rain clouds move with the wind. My days are now filled with hope, beauty, and true joy. I am in awe that it all is based on how I choose to focus my attention.
Author and Inspirational Speaker
1. Flame of Healing: A Daily Journey of Healing from Abuse and Trauma
2. Resurrection Hope
3. Millennial Hope
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