“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”
That saying about making lemonade is a bit of a cliche and is usually taken to mean trying to turn bad things into something positive by making the most of them. This might involve reframing them as opportunities in disguise, or doing some form of positive thinking that has them not seem so bad. This sentiment is a good one, but it doesn’t actually get to the heart of what’s possible.
So what is possible then when life throws the lemons? What can you do when you are made redundant, or your marriage falls apart, or you don’t have enough money to pay the bills? Those are life events that really are challenging and it’s unlikely that the invitation to ‘make lemonade’ is really going to help. But there is a way to be, an approach to take that can really make all the difference. It won’t change the circumstances of what happened, but it will radically alter the way you see them and give you your power back.
First of all, it’s important to be authentic about how you feel when negative things occur. Bad stuff stinks and it’s important to acknowledge when you are not OK about what has happened, or is happening. Telling the truth about that is essential for the next steps to actually work. The secret is to allow yourself to feel your feelings, but don’t get stuck in them. Acknowledge they exist and spend a little bit of time getting into them – but make this time limited. Indulging in bad feelings for too long can have a detrimental effect, making it all the harder to get over them. So, once you’ve had a good cry, or scream, or punched pillows for a while stop and recalibrate and get ready for the next step.
This next step is possibly the most important thing you can do, ever. It works for anything and everything that you don’t want in your life, and it will always give you your power back. Always. The downside is that as simple as it is, it’s not easy and it can even sound a little crazy. What is it?
Choose what happened or is happening. Simply choose it just the way it is, and just the way it isn’t.
That sounds very cryptic and perhaps it doesn’t even make sense to you. Let me explain.
One of the reasons humans suffer is because they resist what is or has happened. Resistance is saying things like “It shouldn’t have happened”, or “Why me?” or “It’s so unfair, what did I do to deserve this?” or “It’s not my fault, why should I have to put up with this?” or “I’m such an idiot, it’s all my fault I got it wrong.” You can see that there are loads of different flavours of the basic complaint: “It should not be this way!” When we get locked into this way of thinking we become victims and give our power away because basically, we are not owning the problem. And if you don’t fully own the problem then you will automatically feel that you can’t or won’t do anything about it – and that’s where the feelings of helplessness, overwhelm or despair come from. It’s true, these bad things shouldn’t be happening to you, but guess what? They have. Now what?
Choosing what’s happening means you accept that it’s happened without judgement. Yes it happened. You may or may not have had a part in it, it may or may not have been your fault, but it happened. You probably hate and resent that it happened but choosing it means you are willing to acknowledge that it happened to you in your life and it’s now for you to deal with. Whether you like it or not, this thing is now squarely on your plate. Complaining about it isn’t going to deal with it. Taking positive action will. It might even be that you are clueless what that positive action might be right now, but if you actively choose what’s happened as yours, for you to deal with, you’ll feel that you have some power. Owning the issue means you can do something about it. Complaining about the issue and refusing to accept it just keeps it stuck. It’s not going anywhere and will hang around making you suffer.
What I find so interesting when my clients decide to give this a go, is that often they come back claiming that a miracle has occurred! Things that they swore were completely stuck and out of their control suddenly resolve. Amazing synchronicities start happening where just the right person or thing shows up just at the right time. Debts get magically cancelled. Money appears in the bank account. Dream jobs materialise. Houses that had been stuck on the market for years suddenly sell for the asking price. Difficult relationships heal, often with the other person seeming like they’ve had a miraculous personality change for the better.
To be honest I have no real idea how it works. Perhaps there is something about being able to recognise the opportunities that were always there if you’re not complaining. Perhaps there’s something about the Universe aligning when you take responsibility for what’s happening in your life (choosing it), or perhaps there is no explanation. All I can tell you is my clients love it. It works.