+ Opportunity Sign June 09 11405184_sI sure enjoy when my life is humming along like a well-oiled machine. The weather is nice, my schedule is filled with the things I love doing, I feel aligned and effortless in all that is going on — good times! Those stretches in my life are wonderful, and I’m grateful for them. Thank you, Universe!

But, of course, there are also plenty of times when something is “off” and the feel of ease goes away. The source of this shift can be a whole range of emotions, events, or issues — from the loss of a job to a case of the sniffles. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to throw me off. Maybe I have a low tolerance for upset. (Please don’t ask my children their opinions on this!). I admit I like things to be orderly and to make sense. I know this about myself.

So, when things are difficult, my initial feelings are frustration, confusion, a slight disorientation. My energy gets cloudy, congested. I lose my sense of flow and begin to shut down. It’s not comfortable, and not my favorite way of being!

But this is a part of life, as much as the smooth and easy times are. And, because the situations, moods, and events don’t just evaporate, I’ve been working over the years to figure out how to be with myself as I go through these times to make them easier and more manageable. The first thing I began to do was to ask what the meaning was in the situation. Why is this going on? Why am I in this mood? Why did this come along at this particular point? Why am I feeling stuck here?

I do have to be a bit careful, however, that “Why?” doesn’t go down the path to the questions: “Why me?” or “Have I done something to deserve this?” I no longer believe tough things happen as a result of behavior or worthiness issues. I don’t think the Universe operates that way.

But, overall, asking “Why” has been helpful. I like “meaning” and have found that giving meaning and context to whatever is going on helps me learn from it and shift it.

The other day when things were a bit awry, I found my query “Why is this happening?” producing rather formulaic responses. I felt as if I knew the Why answers and wasn’t completely satisfied.

All of a sudden, a new question popped into my head: “What is the opportunity in this situation?” Along with looking for a reason why things were the way they were, I realized that I could also look at the opportunity that came as well. My energy shifted immediately as I contemplated my situation from a whole new perspective.

What is the opportunity in a given moment…to do something different, to try a familiar thing a new way, to find a more effortless approach, to ask a new question, to take action where I was inactively stuck pondering meaning (smile). Opportunity is an active, action-oriented dimension that gets me moving. I like it.

I look a few years back when my husband was laid off from a job he didn’t particularly like working with and I realize there were many more opportunities in the situation than there were answers to the question “Why did this happen?” The “whys” were fairly obvious. But, lots of opportunities arose from the situation – for example, the opportunity to find a job he did like, time to develop his personal writing, and a chance to recover and restore from his previously stressful and unrewarding job. He also did a little internal work on “why” and the self-reflective aspect was important too.

For myself, that time gave me the opportunities to practice being more in trust than in fear, to practice visioning my husband in a new, satisfying job, to be in the flow of time together. It all added up to a very productive and rich experience for both of us.

So, now I have two questions in my toolbox: “Why is this going on?” and “What is the opportunity it presents?” It’s a useful combination to get myself back in alignment and motion when I’m stuck in a hard spot.

Share your thoughts