Many of us recovering addicts know that no matter how good someone may seem on the outside, they could be facing a battle on the inside. Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't there. What many of us miss, however, is that the same idea applies to the positive just as it does the negative. Just because something may seem negative at first glance, doesn't mean we can’t make positive things out of them. And if you put in the work to shift your perspective, you’d be amazed at how much lemonade you can make from the lemons life gives you.
So, let’s explore our setbacks as potential gifts that bring out the best in us. To get you started, here are three examples of negative circumstances that you can make positive.
1. Money Shortage
I’m all too familiar with being broke. It’s not that I was bad with money. I’d learn to manage it during early recovery, but some things were out of my control. No matter how hard I worked, I just couldn’t make ends meet. In those times, it was painfully difficult to see hope. But even facing homelessness, no food or no utilities, I found one silver lining: a lesson to be learned.
I learned to appreciate what I had, like my family and friends. I had student loans, but I also had a degree that gave me the opportunity to better my situation through hard work and perseverance. I also learned to appreciate the things I didn’t have (anymore), like addictive cravings and issues with my physical health that could prevent me from working a full-time job.
I also learned what I needed to do to overcome my financial situation and to find myself in it again. And most importantly, I learned that I can’t control everything that happens to you in life, but I can control my attitude.
2. Being Alone
Perhaps you’re not in a relationship, or you’re in a relationship but still feeling lonely when your significant other isn’t around. When we feel lonely, we might blame the feeling on our single relationship status or even on our incompatibility with the person we’re with. This would be a mistake.
Truth is, loneliness is a symptom of disconnectedness within ourselves. Maybe we feel rejected or misunderstood, and this clouds our judgment when we face ourselves. Or perhaps we’ve just never taken the time to work on being on our own, to explore our deepest thoughts and dreams and truly get to know ourselves and enjoy our own company. Spend quality time with yourself. Reflect on and nurture yourself. Is there such a thing as too much self-care?
When I’m alone I try to make sure I am as present as possible. I treat myself to my favorite things: a walk outside, ice cream and some chocolate. I pay close attention to my thoughts and investigate why I may think a certain way about things. I take notice if I don’t sound like I’m being kind to myself, and I correct that thought. I also pay attention to my feelings and learn to let them pass as I go about embracing “me” time.
And most importantly, I learn to be for myself the things I am for others. For instance, I make myself laugh, and I laugh at myself. Life is so much more fun this way, and no one can treat you kinder or more cruelly than you.
3. Health Issues
Problems with our health are hard to swallow, especially when they are brought on by our own actions. If we use drugs or alcohol for an extended period of time, we can inflict illness on ourselves. Some would argue that addiction itself is an illness.
Other times, there are issues beyond our knowing and far from our control, no matter how healthy we try to be. For example, when I was 29, I had to choose between having the ability to bear children or having the promise of good health, and I chose the latter.
I admit it’s difficult to find a positive side to health issues. Often, we can’t change them or avoid them. However, we can choose how they shape our approach to the life we still have: do we wake each morning wishing we weren’t sick, or do we wake ready to explore life as much as we can, given our circumstances, to find joy in the little things, like rubbing a dog’s soft belly or stepping on a crunchy leaf, like making our loved ones laugh or making ourselves laugh. I don’t know what your diagnosis is or the treatment, if available. But I do know there is the outcome that fate decides for us and the outcome we ourselves choose for our life: how much do we want to live with the time and circumstances we have?
I leave you with this: the world is rigged in your favor, if only you choose to see it that way.