Now that I look back and analyze myself what empowered me to recover my life after the devastating crash, I see there were several aspects that worked together intertwined. I talk about my faith a lot because the Lord has given me the strength, tenacity, opportunities, courage, endurance and a blessing in everything I aimed for. I would not have made it without the Lord. But then there are other aspects that I don’t talk much about – besides the Lord’s intervention and His blessing I work with myself a lot. There are several components that helped me to recover from my personal adversity:
- God’s blessing and unshakable faith
- Personal Action and relentless effort to do the best I can do under any circumstances.
Self-management plays a significant role and I want to elaborate on that aspect. Overcoming deep depression, emerging from hopelessness, breaking through the impossible odds, achieving goals and positive mindset is not a coincidence, but it is a result. Or, in other words, it’s the fruit of my efforts that nobody sees. It’s the result of hard relentless work.
Have you thought about why some people give up and others overcome seemingly insurmountable situations which confront them? Why some people get depressed and give in to circumstances and others refuse to give in and find a way to improve their lives? Is it that some are stronger than others? I don’t think so. I believe that what sets those people apart is their ability to manage themselves.
What is self-management? It is the skill to master your perspective, your thought patterns, your thought focus and your feelings. It’s the ability to manage yourself. When you have the skills necessary to manage your inner state, you will be able to respond to life’s events in a way that empowers you. It is imperative to be able to manage your outlook and your inner state at all times because you make different choices and different decisions depending upon how you view a situation and how you feel at the time your decisions are made. Would you agree that you make different decisions when you feel hopeful, confident, tenacious, strong and determined, and make entirely different decisions when you feel hopeless and helpless, defeated, doubting and pessimistic?
There was a time in my life when I realized that in addition to God’s blessing, my experience greatly depended on how well I managed myself. My biggest eye opener and probably one of the most significant ones was when I realized that my experience about one or another event depended upon how I choose to look at it.
I learned and realized that thoughts and emotions don’t just “happen” to me, leaving me powerless against them. I choose what I think and what I focus on, what meaning I give to the events and what I am going to do about them. Nobody and no event has the power to make me feel in any particular way unless I allow it. I am the one who chooses my response, and that depends on my perspective and my interpretation of what it means to me.
We always in our mind communicate to ourselves what things mean to us, how we feel about occurred events and what we are going to do about it all. When we are doing well, we are excited and think about how thrilled we are that things are going well, what it took for us to achieve success, and having an even stronger belief of what is possible for us, we move on to another venture. Likewise, in the event of various complex circumstances, we weigh our current situation, ask ourselves why it happened, and make conclusions and decisions for the future. While we are thinking about one or the other situation, we feel certain emotions. It’s easy to see the good side and feel positive emotions when the circumstances are in our favor. But it’s more challenging to feel positive if it’s a painful and difficult event for us.
One of the combining details that affect our inner state and our subsequent decisions is our how we interpret it and how we communicate it to ourselves. Depending on our perspective we will give the meaning to that particular event, and from there follows our emotions and decisions what we are going to do next.
Having the same event, we have a choice of how we will look at it and how we will interpret it.
- Is this a punishment or is this a lesson for me?
- Is this a crash or is it just the end of something that will be replaced by something that really needs to take place in my life?
- Is this an unrecoverable tragedy or is it a test for me?
- Is this a loss or an opened opportunity to have new and better?
- Is this a dead end or is it a challenge for me to find a way because I know there must be the way?
- Is this too much for me to handle or is this opportunity for me to overcome a new challenge and become stronger?
- Is this a problem or is it a challenge for me to find a way, to improve and create what I want?
Let’s take a very simple example. Let’s say Dave come to work and finds out that he was let go. What is he going to do about it? It greatly depends on his perspective. He can see it as he’s not good enough and they are getting rid of him, it’s a big problem, it’s the end of his security and well-being. How will Dave feel? Most likely he will feel defeated, not needed, self-insecure, stressed, fearful for his future, not confident to look for another well-paid job. But what if this is an opportunity for him to get a better position? What if this door closes, so he would open another door to have a career that he really wants? Maybe this is an opportunity for him to apply for the position that he always dreamed about or maybe even create his own business? How will Dave feel having this perspective? Most likely he will feel having a new beginning, intrigued, excited about the change to a better, opportunity to learn new things and improve, eager to take action, curious, hopeful. Having this kind of perspective will make him feel in a whole different way and a very different behavior than in the first case. A person can have two different perspectives about the same situation and both of them will create totally different outcomes.
Let’s take a gambling game. It is just a game, nothing more. But how we feel about it depends on how we look at it and what gambling game means to us. We can look at it as a fun time with friends, the excitement of a mystery of what’s going to happen next and a great opportunity to gain an unlimited amount of money with no effort and work. Also, we can look at it as a waste of time, opening doors to something that can bring a great destruction into our lives and it is just throwing away our money that we can spend on something more meaningful. It’s all how we look at it will make us feel about that object or any event.
What if we look at circumstances or occurred events as just the facts? The fact itself can’t make us feel in any particular way. It is just a plain fact same way as an object. It’s how we look at the fact will shape our attitude and our feelings about it. Events, the same way as objects or activities are simply neutral matter and they have both likes and dislikes, depending on what it means to people. Our perspective is the foundation of what meaning we give to the event or any circumstance, and depending on that we will feel about it in a particular way and will choose what we are going to do about it.
Perspective depends greatly on our beliefs. We have a choice to believe that everything that happens in our lives is in God’s control and everything happens for the purpose and for the better. We also may believe that there is no God, life is whatever events happen to us, it’s all about luck and most often life’s not fair. We may believe that with our decisions we can shape our destiny, and we may believe that all life’s events and circumstances are out of our control; therefore, it is meaningless to work hard and make the effort. We may believe that we are not good enough and are not really worthy of love and strong family, and we may choose to believe that everybody is worthy and can have it, so we do as well and we will have it when the right time comes. We may have a belief that we will not succeed anyway because we are not worthy of success or we are simply not as lucky as others, and we can believe that success is not a mere luck but a result of our efforts and we will be blessed and will succeed in everything we aim for.
These are just several examples of general beliefs about God, life, love and us as people, which shape our perspective. Belief is nothing more than what we are convinced about, which we can choose as well. I cannot stress enough how critical it is to pay attention and choose your belief and perspective.
In order to show it better and make it more real, I will take my own life. The car accident that I was involved in was something that I could have never expected nor was I ready for such drastic event. I was 22 years old, and this event was a major turning point in my life and my family members. The result of that crash was that I lost a person, who I was dating at the time (he was killed), and lost everything that made my life fulfilling. In addition to losing it all, having multiple injuries and losing both of my legs and having my left arm fully paralyzed, made me totally helpless and not able to take care of myself at all. From being active, joyous and having strong potential to be successful in life, suddenly I found myself helpless in bed not being able to move or do anything independently, except see, feel and speak a little bit. My life was changed overnight.
There were many different opinions on why it happened, questions about my destiny and advice what I should do with my life at that point. I have heard people had ideas that God has punished me. Others said probably this was my destiny and I should just accept it. “Such is your fate…he broke your destiny” was a very common conclusion, implying that I needed to accept it and give in because there was nothing I could do to get it all back or make my life better. I also had to hear advice not to try so hard pursuing my dream, because what I wanted was unrealistic. I disagreed with them all and decided to fight for my life because I had a different belief.
Today, one of the things I am most grateful for to my Creator is that from the very beginning I had a positive perspective about what had happened and faith of what my future would be like. I had unshakable belief that my life’s under God’s control and therefore, I will not fear. There was a reason why I got into this crash and also there is a purpose why I survived, even though I was given 30% to live. I believed there must be a serious reason why this had happened. Even though I didn’t understand many things, but I believed there’s a purpose in everything and Lord was going to restore my life. I didn’t believe that this event happened for me to spend the rest of my life being in regret and depression, watching how my life passes by in sadness and restricted lifestyle.
I decided that I would not be a victim and wouldn’t spend my life continuously thinking about what had happened. I refused to be in self-pity or collect sympathy from others. The decision to restore my life no matter how much effort it would cost fueled me with unbreakable determination. I had a very clear understanding that my destiny was not going to be “broken” because of the event that had happened. I believed I could change my destiny the way I wanted and with God’s help that’s exactly what I was determined to do. I was going to live a full life in spite of my injuries. My understanding about it was so bright and clear, as if I were given a palette of paint, being told that I could draw only black or gray house, and I knew that I could use all the colors I wanted, and paint not only a house, but also blossoming gardens, green trees, colorful flowers, bright yellow sun, blue sky…
I did not know how my situation could possibly resolve to a better, but I knew that I would live well. I completely ignored people’s sayings “Such is your fate…” I did not listen to what anybody said about my position in life and their opinions about my goals that I wanted to achieve. I always had a vision of how I wanted my life to be, believed that it was possible to implement it and did everything I could do to make it become my reality.
I set the goals for myself, which step-by-step transformed my life from not being able to speak, move or do anything independently to traveling from Europe to the United States by myself and building my life all over again. I had a vision that I would live a fully active lifestyle in spite of my injuries, consistently worked toward my goal, and today I get to live my dream that seemed nearly impossible.
Now, after a while, I clearly see that if I also believed that God has punished me, I would have spent the rest of my life in misery, thinking that I would not have anything beautiful in my destiny. If I also had looked at my circumstances “realistically” as many did, I would not have even aimed for goals that I did. If I had agreed with people, who had their own beliefs about destiny and told me that I should just accept what had happened and let it be the way it was because such was my fate – probably I would still be spending my days being stuck at home having no access to a full life. If I believed that we can have only that, which circumstances allow, I still would be imprisoned by the walls of my home, watching how my youth pass by me and all I have is a dull existence.
My belief shaped the perspective that gave me hope and empowered me to take action to change my circumstances and create the life that I envisioned. My perspective about this event and my future gave a birth to the attitude that I can’t and won’t give up on my life, but will take action to improve everything. My beliefs strengthened and encouraged me that I would succeed. I did not allow my loss to ruin my desire to live a full joyous life. Opposite, my loss gave a birth within to a burning desire to live and aspiration to achieve my dreams. I did not allow my desperate situation to destroy my faith. Opposite, my faith became stronger than it ever was. My adversity revealed to me the values that I never saw before. My belief and attitude made me strong, persistent and unstoppable.
As all of my above examples show, the same situation can have totally different outcomes, depending on which perspective we choose. Some beliefs are unconscious, and they come from people’s backgrounds, religious beliefs, experience, philosophy or other people’s opinions and their experience. We might be surprised how our beliefs are affected by other people’s beliefs or philosophy. Furthermore, based on that we make decisions that shape our lives. But the good thing is that we can change it at any time. If we are aware of our beliefs and our perspective, we can manage it and choose the response that will empower us.
If you believe that God does not give you more than you can cope with and there is a reason for everything, it will give you the confidence that you can manage it, and the solution is ahead of you. It will give you tenacity and encourage you to handle the adversity in the best possible way. After some time you might even see that particularly this difficult situation was for your good because it directed your life path toward your dream, it tested you, developed necessary character traits and gave you more wisdom. To be honest, I was shocked when I realized this in my own life. That’s why I am grateful today for all those hardships.
The quality of your life and your destiny is determined not by the events that take place in your life, but what you do afterward. While you do not have control over other people and a lot of times you do not have control over what happens in your life, you do have a choice of how you look at it all and what you are going to do about it. Depending on your perspective and decision what you are going to do next, you will have subsequent events and this way you shape your destiny.
Therefore, pay close attention to your beliefs and your mindset. What do you believe about the event that is going on right now in your life? What does this mean to you?
Choose wisely. And, Be Strong. Be Determined and Relentless. Be Unstoppable.
Blessings to you, until the next time.