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Why Your Life NEEDS to Be Hard (And How to Learn From Major Setback)

Why Your Life NEEDS to Be Hard (And How to Learn From Major Setback)
Life isn’t easy.
Sooner or later, life hits you hard and drags you through the dirt.
But that’s the point.
Life is dirt.
It’s a visceral experience.
If you were a bystander, you wouldn’t learn one of the most valuable lessons you could possibly learn.
In a few minutes, you’ll learn a technique that could change you forever.

An Event That Woke Me Up
I remember the moment when I learned I needed to have open-heart surgery.
The air and color got sucked out of the room.
Not literally, of course.
But that is how it felt to me.
It felt as if I were in a cold, dark chamber deprived of oxygen.
I couldn’t hear what the nurse at the International Health Institute in Missoula, Montana was saying to me.
“Usually people have more of a response when I tell them this. Are you OK?”
I didn’t realize I wasn’t responding.
Because in my brain, my world had exploded.
This was one of the most difficult moments of my life.
The life I thought I knew came to a crashing halt, and a new life began from that point forward.
And I learned a valuable lesson in that moment.
I just didn’t know it at the time.
I learned that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot control the hand we are dealt.
We cannot determine the direction our life will take us.
The universe decided that I would learn about a congenital heart issue in a very abrupt and jarring way.
I had no say in that.
What I did have a say in, however, is what I would do next.
Narration - The Hidden Power You Have
Think about a moment you’ve had where your entire world changed.
Think about how you responded in that one moment.
Now think about what you did during the days, months, and years after.
If you’ve just experienced a moment like this, then hold tight.
Full lessons are only ever revealed after the fact.
What happens in one moment in time is not the full story.
Because the full story needs your participation–it needs you to be the author of what happens next.
Becoming the author of your own story is a concept from narrative theory, which spawned narrative therapy.
In a nutshell, you are the author of your own life.
And you may be complicit in writing a bad story for yourself.
You may not even know it.
But I want you to know it now.
Because you can become a new kind of protagonist.
I want you to realize the power you have to narrate your life.
Try this simple exercise today:
  1. Take a piece of paper (If you’ve followed my writing at all, you know how much I love a simple piece of blank paper…)
  2. On one side of the paper, write down who you are today. Include your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. From that starting point, in one sentence, write out your story. Don’t worry too much about it. Write whatever comes to mind.
  3. Below that, write what you would like your story to be.
  4. Then, flip the paper over. At the top of the blank side, write who you would be if you left the other story behind. Write whatever comes to mind about who you would be if the story you’re telling yourself no longer served you. What would that new person look like?
  5. Finally, on the bottom half of the side you’re now on, write down 3 simple actions you can take, starting today, to begin that new story. You don’t have to do all 3 today, but writing down a few will give you multiple options to choose from.
  6. Commit to doing one of those actions TODAY.
  7. Carry this paper around with you for the week.
I think what you’ll find is that doing this simple exercise will change you.
Because your old protagonist wouldn’t have done this.
Your old story wouldn’t have included this.
Only someone in a new story would have taken the time to complete the exercise.
You can be that person.
You can write the next chapter today, starting with one blank page.
I’m not saying that life should be hard all the time. I’m saying that when life is hard–because it will be–there are actions you can take to change your perspective and, therefore, your story.
Think about this for the rest of the week.
Reach out to me by replying to this email if you need some help.
Thanks for reading and responding,
P.S. The Kindle version of my book, In Search of Happiness: Healing Through Mental Health Poetry, is on sale for just $3.99 for the rest of Mental Health Awareness Month!
Poetry has a way of connecting directly to the heart, and that’s especially true with this poetry book about mental health and mental illness.  •  Share
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Jordan Brown - Mental Health Newsletter Writer, Poet, Social Worker, and Advocate

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