One day, a friend of mine was walking down the street with his brother when his brother was shot and killed.
It was a case of mistaken identity.
So, for the next three years my friend was filled with hatred and rage. Self-admittedly, he was an asshole of assholes, living through the lens of unadulterated anger.
Who could blame him? His brother was brutally murdered as he helplessly stood right next to him. He couldn’t do anything to save him.
And yet, he couldn’t see that the rage did nothing but hurt himself. It didn’t bring his brother back. It didn’t endear other people to him. It only kept him locked in pain and survivor’s guilt.
Day after day, he’d wake up and play the role of angry asshole.
Day after day, he’d fight reality, thinking his brother “shouldn’t” have died.
Until one morning when he got up and was washing his face, he looked in the mirror and asked himself: “What the fuck are you doing?”
In that moment he made a choice to stop being such an angry asshole. He realized it wasn’t who he really was and was done playing that shit out. And when he changed his attitude, his whole life changed for the better.
You can’t always choose what happens in your life, but you can choose your attitude and what you focus on.
My 9-day-old daughter Amy died in my arms. It sent me spinning.
For close to 2 years I didn’t want to accept it. I didn’t even know what facing the truth that she had died would look or feel like. I was devastated and thought it shouldn’t have happened.
I wasn’t wrong for wanting my daughter to live beyond the chaotic 9 days of her life. And, she wasn’t wrong for dying.
But my healing was delayed because I was busy making her death wrong. I wasted tons of time and energy fighting the reality of Amy dying in my arms.
When I found energy work, I found a safe place to face my bullshit beliefs and charged emotions so I could fully grieve and finally celebrate the gift of having my daughter in my life for those precious 9 days.
On the other side, Amy broke my heart wide open.
I could have wallowed in a spiral of depression.
Once I found I had another option … an option to lean in, feel my feelings and do my work so I could keep the lesson and let go of the pain and struggle, everything in my life changed for the better.
What you focus on expands
It’s a function of your brain that if you start paying attention to the number of cardinals you see on the daily, you’d think they were everywhere.
Same with white pickup trucks, how many compliments you get on that rockin’ haircut (which suits your face perfectly, by the way), and the reasons you’re the luckiest person you know.
Why? Because what you focus on expands.
You’ll find what you’re looking for whether it’s reasons to be disappointed, money on the street, or all the things to be grateful for.
And when you start paying attention, you become more mindful about what you’re looking for, rather than letting your unconscious beliefs, stories, and misperceptions run the show.
(Hint: if you don’t like your life or the results you’re getting now, pay extra attention to those ingrained patterns. Increasing awareness of what you’re doing and why is KEY to having a new experience.)
In other words, when my friend unconsciously focused on the misery of life and all of his unprocessed pain, guess what he experienced?
When I refused to accept Amy’s death, no matter how much time had gone by, I could still be pulled down into the grief, pain, and broken-heartedness at the drop of a hat.
But when I faced my emotions, surrendered the fight, and sat with the distasteful reality that my daughter was dead, I found comfort in changing my focus from denial to the sweet embrace of the gift I had been given.
Her death was an invitation for me to show the fuck up and live my life.
It’ll feel awkward at first, but it IS a choice
When you’re unaware of all the ways your unconscious patterns feed your need to be disappointed, you won’t always know how to make a new choice.
When you’re used to “I feel sad,” that sadness will chase you whether your temperamental teenager told you they love you or you just got fired.
When you’ve been living from an angry asshole filter for the last three years, finding a new way will feel uncomfortable and awkward. Cuz it’s change.
If you think you have your answer (that life IS hard, that you have to work harder than everyone around you to earn love, that the work deadline is more important than your sanity), you’ll never see the choices in front of you.
Your body loves the status quo. If you’re used to feeling bad, you’ll look for ways to stay in that vibration (conscious or otherwise). It’s uncomfortable to change because it’s something new.
When you’re unconsciously following old patterns, it takes awareness to intentionally reach for higher vibrations, so they can become your new comfort zone.
Think about it like this: you’ve spent your whole life digging trenches. They were difficult to create and you take pride in your effort. Sometimes the mud is hard to navigate and ruins your shoes, but you don’t really know any other way (and besides, isn’t everyone walking around with mud on their shoes?).
Making a new choice is equivalent to realizing you’re in the ditch with mud on your shoes. It’s pulling yourself out of those well-established trenches and forging a new trail. (In other words, it’s hard … until it’s not.)
But you’ll never be able to make a new choice if you don’t first see the trenches exactly as they are. If you’re not aware you’re in them and looking for a new way. If you haven’t played out the raging asshole long enough to get sick of your own behavior.
And sure, you’re used to your trenches. You’ll definitely fall back into them from time to time, but when you start to do your work and pay attention, the time you spend getting stuck in the mud gets shorter and shorter.
Feeling uncertain at first is proof you’re doing it right.
Why? Because you’re doing something you’ve never done before and your brain likes what it’s used to.
Just because everyone you know has had mud on their shoes your whole life doesn’t mean that’s the way it always has to be.
What are you doing? Why?
Kindness is a choice.
What attitude you’re living with is a choice.
Keeping your heart open no matter what’s going on around you is a choice.
But if you’re having trouble remembering that (because your trenches, filters, misunderstandings, patterns, and bullshit lies keep tripping you up), try this.
- Pause. Breathe deeply.
- Take stock of where you are and what’s going on.
- What are you doing?
- Do you like it? Keep doing it.
- If not, now what?
- Ask yourself if you can make a new choice.
- If you can, celebrate and do it.
- If you can’t, celebrate knowing even more about yourself.
- Rinse and repeat as your life plays out.
Bonus Questions: Grow your awareness.
- How did you get here?
- Can you have compassion for the past version of you who didn’t know any better or was treated poorly (or even abused)?
- What is there for you to learn about this situation?
- How do you deserve to be treated instead?
Making new choices requires deepening your awareness. And just like building your muscles, it doesn’t happen overnight.
But at any moment you can wake up, look in the mirror, and ask yourself, “What the fuck am I doing?”
Life is a choice. What are you choosing?
Why would you give your power away to the things you have no control over?
Why not accept it all? Why not surrender to whatever life’s handing you?
Choose to be happy and satisfied because it feels good.
You don’t have to like that your brother was killed, your daughter died, you lost your job, survived a house fire, got in a fender-bender, or snagged your expensive new shirt just past the return window.
And you shouldn’t deny the feelings when those things do come up. Go ahead, have a good cry, feel the tailspin for a while, hang out in the confusion as you orient yourself to what the fuck just happened.
This isn’t about posting a plastic smile on your face and pretending you don’t need to grieve.
But stop wasting your energy thinking they shouldn’t have happened.
Accepting those things and choosing to not let them dictate your mood empowers you.
It takes back your power.
It opens you up to living a life of your choice and frees you from the suffering weighing you down.
Whether you choose to see it or not, life is a choice. What are you choosing?
Have you been stuck feeling pissed off, depressed, devastated, or just plain butt hurt for so long? Choose something new. Discover a new way of seeing your life. Join the online women’s group, Journey to Your Center.
Choose live monthly sessions with Rita and a supportive group of women. Or jumpstart your healing journey with my self-paced program – The Essentials.
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Each month you’ll receive a new topic designed to help you uncover your blocks and blow through them.
You deserve to face the shit that’s bothering you and to be FULLY seen for the love that you are, so you can finally see it for yourself. That’s what we do here with #TeamLove and it’s absolutely magical. Don’t wait another day. I’ve got you. Learn more and apply here. 💖