It’s Happening FOR You
Do things happen for you or to you? I find very often that certain people default to the idea that things happen to them. People in my life, people I’ve worked with—there seems to be a relatively consistent thread where people have a perspective that things happen to, not for, them.
I’m really thankful my default over the course of my life has veered more that things are happening for me versus to me. And I think realizing that things happen for and not to is empowering and liberating. And I want to talk you through this today.
First and foremost, I acknowledge junk happens. Stuff happens. We do not always invite situations. There are circumstances beyond our control as human beings. In the personal development and self-help space, you often hear that you bring upon you what happens. We hear you train people how to treat you, those kinds of things. And certainly our choices and the actions that follow our choices and decisions result in consequences. That is very true.
But nonetheless, you don’t invite the natural disaster. You don’t invite the person with whom you have a relationship to go off the rails and betray you in a certain way. There are truly things that happen in our lives that we legitimately don’t have control over. And even in those instances, as adults mature enough to make our own choices and decisions and craft our responses to life we have the ability to see things as happening for and not to us.
I make the distinction about us as adults because certainly children and youth who are still under the care of adults and they’re not independent literally in their lives and couldn’t be—certainly this does not apply. This is for you and me as grownups in situations that we likely have navigated and chosen to be in ourselves or in relationships and situations that are happening in our adult lives. That’s who I’m talking to. Please make note.
So I’ll give some examples from my personal life. I was married before. If you follow any of my content, you might hear me mention my husband JP. It’s a very wonderful partnership and marriage. We enjoy each other, we work together, we create together. But in my younger life, I was married before and I lived a quintessential cheating story. I had a husband who started meeting people online and, in the middle of the night, one night while he was out of town, I got a call from a woman who wanted to leave a message with his sister. She thought I was a sister and needed to let him know she wouldn’t be able to make their date for that weekend. And it was safe to leave the message with his “sister.”
Thankfully, truly thankfully, in that moment, as wounded as I was, and I won’t get into that now, but wow, talk about a unexpected surprise, a horrific plot twist in what I thought was going to be the course of my life, I’m so thankful that I chose to trust that the horrible thing that happened was for me and not happening to me. It was happening for me in ways that I acknowledged I didn’t even understand at the time. My perspective on this was grounded in a few things. My faith—I didn’t blame God for a human being’s actions. Good raising: parents who had raised me to value myself and to have high expectations for the quality of my life and how I would be treated. And my own growth and development, my learning: I had pre-decided that should such a scenario ever happen to me, I wouldn’t tolerate it. And making that decision in advance meant that in that moment there was actually no decision to be made then ‘cause I was clear about how I would respond. So that was a big one that happened for me, not to me.
Not long in my young adult life after that very dramatic and traumatic experience, my sweet dad died unexpectedly. He was chronologically way too young to pass away. It was not related to any kind of extended illness. It was a shock and such a great loss, thankfully, I maintained a perspective—not that it happened for me. I would of course want my dad to still be here; chronologically, he could be here; it would be reasonable for him to still be alive. But to know that death is part of life. This wasn’t a “why me, why him;” It just was. And to keep perspective in dealing with that loss really propelled me forward. Oh, the hurt— Sometimes I talk about my dad and I can just talk about the facts and not be emotionally, deeply in the moment, but I could burst into some tears right now. But nonetheless, there was no “why me.” And while I’ll never assign that as something that was meant to be—it just was, in it for me are lessons and truths and assurances and reminders and applicable paths and lessons I can carry with me. So again, oh, very sad, unexpected, unwanted situation, but maintaining this perspective was freeing for me. So there’s just a couple of examples, and those are my stories to tell.
If you want more in an understanding of this idea of “things happen for and not to,” I invite you to go Google right after you watch this video. Dr. Sean Stephenson. Sean Stephenson is no longer with us. He passed away, at the time of this recording, a handful of years ago. He has a fascinating life story. Many people would observe his physical situation and what he lived through in his physical body and ask why him? Why does this happen to him? And he is a amazing example of someone who gained the perspective to know that his undesirable, very challenging circumstance was ultimately for him and not something that happened to him. And by not being in the space of “why me” or “why did this happen to me,” he was never the victim. He was the victor. He lived a life that was a really cool example of taking the reins, self-leadership and deciding for himself through wonderful input and perspective, but then to create a life that not only was accomplished and interesting and exciting but an example. So, look him up.
I mentioned my husband earlier and, again, it’s his story to tell, but I trust that he would be comfortable with me sharing that he’s blind. He went blind at the age of 10. He had partial vision until the age of 10. And that was kind of a miracle that he could ever see at all. It was not a surprise that he went blind, but it was a hope that he might not. But he did, and that was truly a traumatic experience. And yet as an adult—someone who is open to growing and learning and expanding who he is, his perspective is that it happened for and not to him.
What might you be facing in life right now? Is it the crush of an economic situation? Is it a struggle in a relationship? Have you been truthfully mistreated by someone? In our area, at the time I’m recording this, we’ve just had horrible windstorms that took trees down and crushed homes, and certainly those are natural disasters that nobody invited. Are you facing something surprising like that or are you in the middle of a situation that, if you’re very honest, you can figure out is consequence of poor decisions you made or decisions that could have served you better, that you veered away from? Whatever it is, I invite you as an adult to consider that where you are, even if it’s something self-created, self-generated, it’s happening for you. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. Apply what you’ve already attained and really deepen that in who you are and your neural pathways and how all of that works in your psyche.
To go above and beyond, look at it as happening for you, not to you. Come out of victim mode.
One of the most empowering things you can do is to take 100% responsibility for your life. I know as soon as I say that, many people say, “but I didn’t cause the fire that burned my house down. I had nothing to do with the tornado. I had nothing to do with him cheating on me. I had nothing to do with the layoffs.” So true! But you have the beautiful human capacity to choose how to respond. You can hit pause and then intentionally decide how to respond and where to go from there in advance of things that you don’t expect or situations or plot twists in your life.
The more you’re grounded in your core values and your ability to hit pause…there’s power in the pause!…and choose how to respond, the more prepared you will be even in the unexpected.
That’s part of what I hope to bring you are these foundational life skills that I’m learning and applying, that I hope you can learn and apply so that anytime something comes your way or you make a misstep and want to right the ship, so to speak, you’re more empowered and capable to do so.
It’s happening for you, not to you.
You are not the victim.
You are leading yourself well into the future that you are choosing to create for yourself.
Thank you. Thank you for being here!
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