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Adversity and Choice

By Suzi Korsak
August 27, 2012

"Adversity is a part of your training and life is a choice. You can choose to be a victim or anything you would like to be" is a quote from Dan Millman's The Peaceful Warrior. Read Suzi Korsak's article about what we can learn in the face of adversity and what gifts adversity has to offer all of us.

           Most of us at one time or another had the belief "if not for _____________ (fill in with any uncomfortable or difficult circumstance), I would be happy (fulfilled, joyful, successful...you get the drift)." I have to admit, even after these years of Inner Bonding, I find my thoughts occasionally going back to the old standard beliefs. The difference is now I know I have a choice, always had a choice and was responsible for my choice through intention. Intention is at the heart of our life's experiences. Do I intend to try to control my circumstances or am I choosing to learn from these events?

            I am aware I am the one making the choices in each and every minute. How do I know this? The "I" making the choices can be observed. Have you ever observed a thought and decided that it didn't make sense? You decided it was "crazy" thinking and you let it go. That's right, you decided to let it go. So then why do you let other thoughts be entertained, and held onto tightly even if it means suffering? I tend to guess that you value certainty believing that this is safety. Opening to learning requires a letting go of knowing it all, opening to other possibilities of meaning. Opening in a compassionate intention to learn requires that you value learning and can handle uncertainty. Valuing learning allows each encounter to become a lesson whether pleasant or unpleasant.

            "Nearly all of humanity shares your predicament, if you don't get what you want, you suffer.....and even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can't hold onto it forever." is a quote from Dan Millman and it describes what happens when we choose the intent to control. There is no peace when control is our driving force. We live in fear of losing the control that we believe we have to maintain in order to feel safe in the world. There can be no peace because we have to be on constant alert.

The intention to control asks:

  • Why should I let them win the argument?
  • Who do I have to be to be accepted?
  • Why should I be the one who says I'm sorry first?
  • What if no one ever wants to be with me?
  • What if he/she leaves me?

The intention to control states:

  • I have a right to be angry (upset, disappointed, understood, etc.)
  • I won't talk to you until you _________________.
  • I won't answer them now, and then they'll know how it feels.

            However, what if instead we moved into an intention to learn around the difficulty or problem? What if we valued learning, and even came to value uncertainty as a pathway away from suffering....if we placed value on opening our heart rather than closing it?

The intention to learn asks:

  • What is there for me to learn in this argument?
  • What was triggered for me, that may be an opening to learn and let go?
  • What am I not accepting in myself?
  • What can I learn about this situation if I let go of judgment?

The intention to learn states:

  • I choose love above all else and am willing to see with new eyes.
  • I will listen not only with my ears, but my heart.
  • I will open my heart before answering so I speak with love.
  • I will seek the truth through uncovering my beliefs before deciding.

            I have come to a new understanding of adversity. Adversity is an opening to understanding the power of intention. During this past summer my son Derek took his dream trip to Japan. However, this would not have taken place without his opening to the intention to learn.

            Derek had applied to a program for the fall to spend a year in Japan, however, after being accepted they told him he was not ready for the year. Upset, he called me....within 15 minutes he had walked himself through a process, felt his feelings of disappointment and discovered his loving action. Needless to say he was placed in another program for the summer, and had a beautiful experience.

            I on the other hand learned the lesson of letting go of needing to "fix" the experience for my child. I learned to be there with him and his feelings without doing...and for me this was a new experience. I learned that letting go of his outcome and just being available to listen was enough. Of course I helped but only by offering questions for his process.

            In that moment he chose to open to learning, rather than being a victim of someone else's choice. Had he become a victim, he might have missed out on a beautiful experience. There would be friends to support him in his misery and they would have agreed that this was a rotten deal. However, the suffering would have been a result of his focus. He was ready to learn about other avenues rather than saying to himself "nothing ever works out for me." That too are words of control....a form of the wounded self's safety net.

            I have learned that every moment has a lesson for me. If I feel discomfort whether it be in traffic on the way to the airport or someone telling me goodbye, I have a choice. I can open to the lessons of the discomfort or I can become a victim of my circumstances. Either way I will find others will support me in my choices. How it feels on the other side for me makes the choice of learning easier. When I feel discomfort now, I get a little bit of joy, knowing that if I choose the intention to learn, I'll get the lesson now and live a more peaceful life.



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