Choose Your Focus

Ah, adversity. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.


Today is day four of my Gratitude Challenge and the assignment is to give thanks for some of the “negative” things in my life.

I am no stranger to adversity. I had an emotionally and physically abusive father, I suffered from many years of depression, and my husband, David, has been dealing with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for more than a year.

But I give thanks—true thanks—for these and all the challenges I have faced in my life.

Part of this thanks comes from my belief that when we face a problem, or something we don’t want—no matter how big—we are automatically asking Source (God, the Universe, our Higher Self, whatever works for you) for a solution, or for what we do want. And Source responds immediately.

The key—and what is so hard for so many of us to get our minds around—is that we have to be focused on the solution in order for it to come into our lives. It is our choice to continue to focus on the problem, or to focus on the solution.

So what were the “solutions” to the things I mentioned above?

My living with an emotionally and physically abusive father—and a few bad love affairs—helped me figure out very clearly what I didn’t want in a relationship. Almost immediately after I shifted my focus to what I did want, David came into my life. He is loving, funny, handsome, and one of the nicest men I have ever known. After almost 20 years of marriage, I can still say that marrying him was the best decision of my life. I am grateful for that early adversity that ultimately led me to the relationship I have today.

Living with clinical depression helped me figure out who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life. Depression lead to a lifetime of questioning and searching that brought me many great teachers, and ultimately brought me to where I am today. What I have learned from all those teachers is that focus is the key to living the life of my dreams—consciously shifting it from what I don’t want to what I do want. Without those years of depression, I would not be as aware, in-tune with myself and Source—and yes, happy—as I am. I am grateful for depression.

There have been many blessings to come out of David having RA. It was scary and hard before we knew what was wrong and David was in so much pain. Dealing with this helped me see that I can deal with life’s adversities without losing my grip on my self-care. And it caused me to focus in a big way. I could either dwell on David’s pain, all the things he couldn’t do, and how hard it was, or I could focus on his wellness. By doing the first, I would have damaged myself and been no help to him. By doing the latter, I gave both of us the best support possible.

Plus, David has become so much more aware of his own focus and attitude, of the food he puts in his body, and the importance of exercise. For all of these reasons, I am grateful for David’s RA.

All the adversity in my life has helped me become who I am. I no longer define myself as a “victim” of child abuse. I no longer see myself as a depressed person. And I don’t dwell on David’s illness. When I read this assignment, I actually had to stop and think about what adversity I’ve had in my life. It wouldn’t have been too long ago that I would have ticked them off like I was reading a list, because they were so present in my life.

These old issues no longer weigh on my mind, suck my energy, or keep me from striving to be the best possible version of me. And for that, I give thanks!

Yes, you will face adversity in your life. But each of these experiences provides you the opportunity to get a clearer picture of who you want to be. And you have the ability to shift your focus to get there.

Together we can do it!

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