We are often so wrapped up in our own so-called "problems" that we fail to see the constant opportunity for growth in every situation. My mentor Michael Beckwith once told me that the universe answers every question that we ask, but the problem is that most people ask disempowering questions. We constantly victimize ourselves with questions like, "What's wrong with me?" or "Why me?" Yet every time something or someone angers us, it is a direct indicator of where we need to work on ourselves and how we should be treating others.
As we move out of victim consciousness, we learn that at the root of these problems is the absence of love. I believe that not only is love all there truly is, but it is a powerful force that can transform any situation. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, "There is a power in the universe that is able to make a way out of no way," and I know that the power he was speaking of is the power of love. Here are three everyday situations in which I asked myself these empowering questions. Doing so turned an everyday hassle into an opportunity to practice love and compassion.
1. What is my sight not allowing me to see? Or what good is here that I presently cannot see? A question like this immediately takes you out of your perceived reality and makes you question your senses. A couple of weeks ago at a Kinkos I had one of those experiences in which everything that could go wrong, did. My computer wouldn't let me log into any of my emails, and then when I finally could log in, the printer froze... After asking for my money back, I walked over to the fax machine, which had a huge line held up by a bewildered woman who couldn't figure out how to fax. I was already highly frustrated at this point when she claimed that her card didn't work. While the attendant attempted to figure out what was wrong with her card I slid mine in and began to fax. As I waited, I took a deep breath and asked, "What good is here that I presently can not see?" And in that moment the attendant told her that the card wouldn't work. "You can not have what you are not willing to give," I thought. In that moment, I realized I could turn a trivial situation into an opportunity to give what I thought I was lacking. Instead of complaining over time lost, I spent the next 15 minutes faxing her paper for her. In an instant, the people who were also frustrated and waiting in line began to smile and talk to us, responding to the small gesture of goodwill. It was as if suddenly the room lit up and we were all together in this unexplainable way. Love can change any atmosphere.
2. What is the highest choice? Life is not a process of discovery, but one of creation. We create the situations we are in by making choices about how we react to our emotions and the emotions of others. When faced with an irate friend who wrongly believed that I owed him money, I asked this question internally, like a mantra. I was able to laugh off the reactive voice of my ego that said, "Screw him, he's stuck in victim mode." The answer came when I took a moment to breathe in what was really happening. The highest choice was to not make him wrong, but to ask him to meet me in the present moment, and see if he could love and accept me despite the issue. I explained that my intention was never to hurt him, and in the present moment I had nothing but love for him. Our friends who were sitting at the table were astonished by how it defused all of the macho energy. The virtue of acceptance allowed us to continue in peace and have a real conversation.
3. What would love do now? This is the most powerful of the three and potentially the only question we ever need to ask. To be clear, love isn't always flowers in the park. Sometimes it's messy and sometimes it means showing some teeth. This is why discernment is key. Late last year on a sunny day in Los Angeles, I was approaching a light when I noticed an older woman, probably in her mid 70s, waving for a bus across the street to wait for her. As she rushed across the street the bus driver didn't see her and kept going. I was running late to a meeting, but it was hard to ignore the blazing hot weather and the distress the elderly woman was clearly experiencing. The light turned green, and I drove two blocks with a heavy heart before becoming hyper aware of myself in my brand new, air-conditioned SUV with three open seats. I asked myself, "What would love do now?" The answer came swiftly. I turned around and pulled up to her, letting her know that I saw the whole scene and that I would love to take her where she needed to go. After carefully scanning my intentions, she happily accepted the offer and praised my mother for raising me right and invited me to dinner some time with her family.
Every situation challenges us to step up to the plate and be love manifested. If you think the world is against you, it's because you've already answered your own disempowering questions, instead of asking the open, challenging ones.
"Life doesn't give you the people you want. It gives you the people you need: to assist you, to hurt you, to love you, to leave you, & to make you the person you were meant to be." -- Unknown
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