On Sunday I received a message that threw me into a tailspin of feeling sorry for myself. Within five minutes of receiving the message, I was in tears. Why would this happen to me?
Then I caught myself. I know enough about emotions that I could see the story I was telling myself in my head. It was the story that was fueling the feelings of self pity.
So then I asked the most powerful question I have ever asked.
It's a question that I've taught many of my clients because the instant that you ask the question, it completely upends reality and flips whatever challenge you are looking at upside down.
Asking this question at the right time has completely changed my life.
The question first popped into my head four years ago when I was in the middle of an intense bout of anger towards my friend Greg.
You see, in the weeks leading up to this outburst I was up against a deadline to find a new place to live. Greg was also looking for a place to live and he suggested that we look for a large house to rent, and get several roommates to create an intentional home where we shared meals, chores, companionship, growth, etc. It sounded great, it would make rent more budget-friendly and how fun to have a lovely friend-family to come home to.
So we went house hunting and found the perfect place. We found two more roommates and were all set. It was going to be great and just in time to meet my move-out deadline, which was coming up quickly. I was excited.
And then Greg backed out. He called me the day before we were to sign the lease and he said it just didn't feel right. I was livid.
I was so angry that I could feel the tightness in my body. I now had only two weeks to find a place to live and all of the college students were now also back in town looking for apartments. I cannot describe the amount of anger. I thought, "It was his flippin' idea to start with! I can't believe it! This is the worst thing that could be happening!"
I walked into my parents' house, fuming. Having just gotten off the phone with Greg, I told them what had happened and quickly went on Craig's List to line up apartments to visit the next day. Everything looked horrid.
Dad said, "why don't you come over with us to the neighbor's happy hour? Get your mind off it for a bit." "No," I said; "I have to find a place to live. This is EXACTLY what I didn't want to be doing. It's the WORST time to be looking for a place to live."
And then the magical question popped in my head.
All of a sudden I could see that I was stuck in the perspective that this was the absolute worst thing that could be happening to me. It was THE thing I wanted to avoid.
And the question...
"WHAT IF INSTEAD OF BEING THE WORST THING, WHAT IF THIS IS THE BEST THING THAT COULD BE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?"
As soon as I asked the question, the tension in my body eased up. I was no loner livid with Greg. Maybe this was a good thing. Maybe living with all those people wouldn't work out in the end.
If this is the best thing that could be happening, then what amazing thing might be about to happen?
I let go. I relaxed. And... I decided to follow my parents to the neighbor's happy hour. I figured, Craig's List could wait until the morning.
Sitting at the neighbor's deck, overlooking lake Champlain on a beautiful summer evening, Joyce, one of the neighbors asked me if I had found a place to live. Ugg... I told her the whole story.
And then the miracle happened. Joyce said to me, "oh! I think Susan in #64 is moving out. I think she's a renter." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This condominium where my parents have lived for 30 years is beyond gorgeous. They're right on the lake. The bike path is perhaps 100 feet from their back yard. There's a beach and so many lovely walks to take!
The next morning I went to #64 and talked with Susan. She was moving out one week before I needed to move in. She hadn't informed the landlord yet, so he was all too glad to have me lined up to take over the lease when he found out she was leaving in a week. My home was never advertised on Craig's List. Needless to say, I never looked at Craig's List again!
I have been living in my dream home for the past 4 years. Waking up to gorgeous lake views every day. Going for walks, swims, bike rides and enjoying having friends over.... and honestly feeling like the luckiest human alive.
And as if that weren't enough, my rent is less than any of the places I saw advertised on Craig's List! And NONE of the Craig's List places are as nice as this.
Had I not asked the question, "what if this is the best thing?" I would have completely missed out on the miracle.
Had I not asked the question, I wouldn't have shifted my perspective. I wouldn't have gone to the neighbor's happy hour. I would have never known that Susan was moving out. I wouldn't be living here.
So I gladly forgave Greg! If he hadn't backed out, we would have signed the other lease. And to top it off, Greg was perfectly listening to his intuition. Within a month, a turn of events in his life brought him to move to Massachusetts. Good thing we hadn't co-signed that lease!
When you open up to the possibility that the "worst" thing that could be happening might in fact be a gift, then you are able to receive the gift.
It also immediately dissipates all negative emotion and replaces it with positive expectation and excitement for what might be to come.
And as for my little bout of self-pity this past Sunday? As soon as I asked the question, I immediately saw the upside of what was possible given this turn of events. And of course, an angel appeared, miracles happened and I'm quite happy with the outcome.
Are you currently experiencing something that is less than great? Perhaps something you wish weren't happening?
Ask the question, what if this is the BEST thing that could be happening?
Sit with that question for a few moments. See what happens... and share with me your experience.
I'd love to hear!