You can Reconstruct your World
Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a lovely family – a wife, Anna, and five children. Their young son died with pneumonia in 1871, and in that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire. Two years later the family decided to vacation with friends in Europe. At the last moment Horatio was detained by business, and Anna and the girls went on ahead, sailing on the ocean liner S.S. Ville de Havre. On November 21, 1873, the liner was rammed amid ship by a British vessel and sank within minutes. Anna was picked up unconscious on a floating spar, but the four children had drowned. She was pulled into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wired her husband a message which began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Mr Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife. With the ship about four days out, the captain called Spafford to his cabin and told him they were over the place where his children went down. According to Bertha Spafford Vester, a daughter born after the tragedy, Spafford wrote the popular hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” while on this journey.
What do you do when you feel you’ve lost it all?
In my work in personal development, I find that sitting across my desk many times are incredible men and women, whose lives have been shaken by life’s winds and storms. I always applaud their effort as they walk in with a bold, steady and powerful stride into the office. Very often they are well composed with an “all together look”, commanding an air of control around them. This is a rehearsed walk and deportment, they are forced to appear strong and courageous even when they are folding in on the inside. Their subordinates, business partners, customers and families expect this of them. They have to keep holding up as the eyes of those who look up to them seek wisdom, direction and guidance from them daily. They also have a deep cry for the same but often there seems to be no safe space for vulnerability or escape. They have to keep on appearing strong for everyone around them even when they feel they have lost their hope for living. Some have lost their loved ones, for others it’s their reputation, whilst others bleed inside because of broken relationships or lost investments, the list goes on. What do you do when you feel you’ve lost it all?
As soon as we get the general niceties out of the way and we de-role to get into the crux of the matter, their shoulders become hunched and the eyes teary as they slump back into the chair. They need answers, strategies and inner strength to go to the next level. I imagine many times that this is what Horatio G. Spafford must have felt when he had to brace himself to strengthen his wife, whilst he himself needed strengthening. He was blessed to have a strong inner man inside of him as he penned away those words of the famous hymn, “it is well with my soul.” Not many have this grace, strength and fortitude. So where do you turn to when you don’t know what to do and when you feel you’ve lost it all?
The power of Leverage
Have you ever experienced your life falling apart all at once? If you’ve been there or find yourself there right now, you’ll know what I mean. Ancient cultures understood the dark night of the soul as a time of transformation. During such seasons, fair-weather friends back away quickly. Who do you turn to? Instead of community support and wise elders to lean on, we’re left alone isolated by shame. It is at such times that we need to leverage on our strength as well as those things that are still working when everything else has fallen apart. Leveraging your strengths can help you accomplish many goals.
What habits and strategies can you adopt?
· Get Grateful
Even when life gets tough, take stock in the beautiful things you have going for you. Each morning, develop a habit of thinking of three things to be grateful for before your feet hit the ground.
· Go out and see something beautiful
When the magnitude of your situation hits you during the day, force yourself to get outside, go for a walk and notice something beautiful.
· Receive Inspiration
Find something inspirational to listen to or read daily. I may not be able to control the world around you but you can control your inner emotions.
· Confide in a friend.
Don’t try to go it alone. A supportive friend will do wonders for you. They’ll listen to your woes, empathize and then empower you to get moving.
· Make a plan.
When your world crumbles, you can be left not knowing what to do next. A plan to get what you need to put your world back together, starting from where you are now (don’t dwell on where you were). Think about which friends to call and help you with the plan.
· Weigh your options.
Before you take action, spend as much time as you need sorting out the problem and focusing on the possible solutions. If you’re not ready to make a decision, don’t do anything. Wait until the dust settles and you’re absolutely clear about what the necessary next step should be.
· Slow down and Say “No”
If it’s non-essential to your wellbeing, you do not have to do it. Don’t allow family, community or businesses ties make you feel pressured. You can say no.
· Get encouragement
Your world might be falling apart in ways none of us can know, you might be struggling for a goal that’s just a fingertip away and all that’s needed are those gentle words of encouragement to fan the flame of courage within.
Seek professional help if you need it. When you’ve done everything you possibly can on your own and you remain confused, mired in indecision, overwhelmed, anxious and/or depressed, it’s time to consult with a qualified professional to help you sort out the problem and help you take the first steps toward moving forward. Life promises new twists and turns in the road, new frontiers, and new horizons. Possibly, what you had once thought absolutely necessary for your life is just a thing of the past. You have the power to reconstruct your world.