Are You Allowing Your Circumstances To Define You?

I recently found myself surprised by a phone call from an old friend. She was hysterical at the discovery of her husband cheating on her. “What happened, Jeremy?” she asked. “Why did he do this to me? And what about our kids? Doesn’t he care about our family? How is this going to affect them? What am I supposed to do now? Do I stay? Do I go?” Wow. That was some phone call, friends.

Sad Woman

Her hurt was palpable, and understandably so. She had been betrayed by her spouse. She had been rejected by the one she pledged to love for a lifetime. And in the middle of it all, he had accused her of being the reason for his destructive actions. Would these circumstances be the end of their relationship? Or would this situation precipitate a different outcome? It all depends on how they decide to define what’s happening. 

Sometimes life looks as though it just couldn’t get any worse.

We’ve been abused. We’ve been betrayed. We’ve been rejected. We’ve been wrongly accused.

Insert your story here. We’ve all got stories that would make our stomachs turn at the pain of our pasts. Whole lifetimes that have been formed mostly by pain. Haven’t you ever found yourself thinking, “No one else feels this way. I’m the only one this has ever happened to. I’m all alone.” But is that ever true? Are you really the only person on the planet that has felt this way?

Most of the time, we fall prey to the thought that because our story is unique with all its relative circumstances and relational turmoil that the feelings that have been produced because of this are unique to us as well. But we are human after all, and on the spectrum of emotion there are only but a handful of things to describe how we could be feeling as a result of what has happened to us. Sure we’ve all got stories. Sure we’ve all got pain. Sure we’ve all got unique circumstances. But should that make us isolated in our pain? Or should it give us comfort to know that we have pain in common with one another?

Have you ever been angry? Me too. Have you ever been frustrated? Me too. Have you ever been depressed? Me too. Have you ever been apathetic? Me too. You see, no matter what has happened to us, it’s what happens in us that will make the bigger difference.

You see, no matter what has happened to us, it’s what happens in us that will make the bigger difference.

All of us have been born into a world of circumstances beyond our control. We didn’t have any control over what time frame in history we have been born into. We didn’t get to choose who our mother and father were. We definitely didn’t get to choose what part of the planet we arrived in. We didn’t get any input in our parent’s purchase of that ugly orange car when we were little and we didn’t get much of a choice in how we were educated.

Maybe we weren’t given the tools and the knowledge necessary to be all that we could be in life. Maybe we lived in a home with a controlling parent that always had us under their thumb and never allowed us to become who we are. Maybe we lived in a home with a passive parent that allowed us to do everything we wanted with no restrictions or boundaries whatsoever. Maybe we lived in an environment where the words, “I love you,” were never spoken or uttered. Maybe all our cries for the attention of our parents were met with unresponsive silence. Maybe we grew up never knowing who our parents were because they had placed us in the care of another. There are a lot of things that created the world we were born into that were out of our control.

But do these circumstances define us? Only if we allow them to.

Coaching Question:
What circumstances in your life have you been blaming for not moving forward? Is there an empowering meaning you can give to those circumstances that will help you see things differently?

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