I recently finished reading one of the books on my booklist.
VIKTOR E. FRANKL’s “Man’s search for meaning” is highly recommended and was worth the read. I stopped a lot of times to reflect about some of the things I read.
You see he was a neurologist/psychiatrist who was imprisoned in Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps during the Second World War and he wrote and spoke of his observations about man and his ability (if he chooses) to overcome his sufferings and find meaning in them.
There were things in the book I could identify with and some things that I questioned. However, one thing I agreed with, is that Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom of independence of mind, even in terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
He wrote that “we who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers that threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you became the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become mounded into the form of the typical inmate.”
Thankfully, our circumstances are not as bad as they were in the concentration camps but those words ring true in every situation we find ourselves in.
Today I want to ask us what we do when faced with Life. When bad things happen to us, what do we think about them?
What goes on in our minds. What do we make of the situation and most importantly how can we rise above our situation?
Our attitude matters and influences our reactions to situations. Our attitude can be as a result of our temperaments – some of us are naturally optimistic whilst some like me tend to pessimism but not withstanding our temperaments we can train ourselves to see the good in all situations.
In the past when troubles came my way I would bemoan my situation, asking myself why me, asking God what have I done to deserve this, asking people who did I offend. But I never did get the answers I sought until I started to ask different questions. Questions like why has this come my way and what part have I played in it? What lessons can I learn, who am I and who do I want to be? It is a true saying that adversity introduces us to ourselves.
In the midst of our troubles, we have the choice as to how we want to react to them. It is a lie when we say we had no choice because our actions or inactions are choices. We can choose to be resentful and bitter about what life has thrown our way or we can choose to find joy and comfort in the bleakest of circumstances.
I agree that it is difficult, very difficult to go against the mould but it is doable and the more we do it the better we become at finding the silver linings in our clouds.
I read of two women who because of their attitudes had different reactions to the same situation. They both suffered betrayal at the hands of their husbands who not only had mistresses, but fathered children outside the matrimonial home. One became a bitter soul alienating everyone including her own children whilst the other had the grace to live beyond it, moved on and is living life to the fullest.
I can tell you for free that until something happens you can never be 100% sure of your reaction. I have found myself doing things I swore I would never do when faced with certain circumstances and I have also found myself being stupidly quiet where I would have thought I would make a fuss.
However, one thing that has always been at the core of my actions and reactions is my determination not to allow my circumstances get the better of me, change who I am and cause me to react in ways I think were beneath me.
I am a firm believer of the biblical verse that says – There is nothing that has come my way that is uncommon and that God will not allow what you cannot handle come your way and even with that he also makes a way out of it.
Going through them, I never thought there would be a day I would say this but looking back through the years, the lessons I have learnt in my midnight hours have stood the test of time. I am overall a better person because of what I have gone through.
I count myself fortunate even in my present circumstances because I see so much to be grateful for.
Mr Aisi has been gone 6 months to the day but I am grateful my kids are grown and almost done in school,l.
I spent about 29 years of my life with him and having shown him how much I cared for him, I am better equipped now to being alone. I am surrounded by loving and kind friends and family. Things definitely could be better but I thank God they are not worse.
We are what we make of our challenges and not what our challenges make of us.