I recently watched the film “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon, a grieving young girl on a quest for self discovery by trekking the Pacific Crest Trail after the sudden death of her mother. Although I don’t want to spoil the plot, the film finished with a quote that I think perfectly describes life and how a lot of the time it doesn’t go to plan.
“we are never prepared for what we expect”- James Michiner
It made me realise that we spend so much time preparing for things in life but what do we do when the ‘unpreparable’ happens?
When I was a child I used to plan my life, I was convinced i’d be a cool mum at 22, married and have a family. By the age of 16 it was very apparent that I was thinking way beyond my years and now at 24 i’m neither of the things i had prepared or planned for as a child. Same goes with my job, I was convinced i’d become a marine biologist but life took me on a different course. Instead I studied psychology at university and for the best part of the last 4 years i’ve dabbled in numerous areas of work none of which included Marine biology (apart from the volunteering I did in South Africa).
Now I guess to a certain degree I have had some of my control over the way my life has gone the past 10 years. I decided to go to University and study Psychology for example. I also decided not to become a mum at 22 and for the most part i’ve chosen the types of job that i’ve applied for .
So what about the things that are out of our control? For example losing a loved one, having your heart broken, getting divorced or losing your job. The things in life we don’t prepare for because unless we are extremely cynical or pessimistic, we don’t expect or plan them to happen to us in our lives.
So what do we do? How we do we cope? And can we ever prepare?
Here are my thoughts…
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou
Sometimes when things don’t go the way we planned we become hostile. We feel as though life just doesn’t ‘go right’ for us whilst others just seem to have it all with no worries. In these moments of doubt sometimes all we can do is trust that what we are going through has a purpose. I guess maybe that’s why people turn to religion in times of turmoil, to gain the answers to why life goes the way it does or even just have faith that theres a higher power and this is it’s path for them. Religious or not, the saying ‘whats meant to be will be’ in times of chaos is sometimes all we can really put our trust in.
Be open minded
Sometimes the worst things can reduce our thoughts to one narrow channel.We can’t see any way out, any way forward or in some cases any way to go on. But have you ever realised that sometimes out of the worst things in life, some of the best things are born. Be open minded to new experiences and opportunities, keep hold of the fact that things will get better and most importantly “there are far better things ahead than any we leave behind”-C.S Lewis .
Life is about how you tackle plan B
Imagine if life was all written out for you and you knew every single detail of how it was going to pan out. How much would you enjoy it then? Now imagine a life with no surprises both good and bad? What would be the need for all of our emotions then?
Too many of us we fear the unknown and we ponder on the unrevealed uncertainties in life. However we cannot predict the future, nor should we fear it. One thing we can do is plan but plans are not set in stone, they’re guidance tools, not definitive statements of how our life should or will go. Because what happens when it doesn’t go to plan ,how do we tackle plan B? or firstly what the hell is plan B?
Well plan b is the unknown. This is why we mustn’t fear it, because some of the best things in life come from plan b. Some of the best things in life are unexpected because in those moments we had no expectations.
Let it go
Now i’m not saying if you lose a loved one, get divorced or go through any other traumatic period in your life you should simply move on and get over it, far from it actually. However, all i’m saying is the negativity surrounding it, the feelings that consume you, you need to learn to try and dissociate those from the experience itself. But first, let yourself feel all the emotions you need to. Allow yourself to feel anger, grief, pain but eventually you need let them go because the experience may stay with you forever but the heavy feelings that come with it, those don’t have to.
Its not your fault
I’ve spoken about blaming your self when your life is in turmoil in my post on grief . Sometimes bad things happen and we blame ourselves and question ourselves or the world. Have you ever wondered why bad things happen to good people? I think we all have, well the answer is there is absolutely no reasoning for it whats so ever, it just happens. It’s not your fault, so turn the pain, the anger, the suffering into a way of fighting these tough times that life throws at you. Because in life you may never learn the answer as to why bad things happen to good people but you will learn the strength to fight them.