Many of our "life lessons" come to us through what we might usually call a "negative" experience, or possibly a "negative" person in our life. However, the addition of the term negative to any person or situation is simply a perception, or a judgment, on our part.
I'm sure there is at least one instance in your life when something you thought was terrible happened (losing a job, a boyfriend, a chance to do something you wanted to do) and it later turned out to be a wonderful gift. At the time you might have described that event as negative, only to discover down the road, that it actually was a blessing in disguise.
In the same way, many of the people in our lives that we find "especially challenging" (that's a nice way to say we think they're a "pain in the...") are really messengers or teachers here to help us along -- to help us progress to the next level in our life's learning.
Most of us, I think, need to learn patience. (Who, me?) I think it is a major life lesson for everyone on the planet, especially for those of us raised in North America. We were raised on the "instant gratification" model -- we have instant food (just add water or milk), instant communication (phone, fax, email), fast food restaurants, guaranteed next day (or same day) delivery, etc. We want our stuff, and we want it now.
When we apply this to our relationships with other humans, we end up with a slight glitch in the works. Humans, as we all may have found out by now, are unpredictable. While someone may have the full intention to do something now, or change a behavior now, the actual "doing" is different.
Maybe the order you placed was supposed to be delivered today, and due to some mix-up at the other end, the order isn't coming until tomorrow, or next week, or maybe even next month! We have two choices in how we respond. We can scream, rant and rave, get angry at the "messenger", get all worked up about it. Or we can accept "what is" and make the best of it, and see if there's a peaceful resolution to the situation, or even if it is a blessing in disguise. The first choice is obviously not the patient choice -- it's not the choice that gives us a passing score on our "patience exam".
Many times in our life, we tend to "chew up" the messengers. Whether these people are here to help us learn patience, acceptance, unconditional love, or another of our life's lessons, how we respond is always our choice. Do we become impatient, judgmental, critical, and angry at the messenger -- or do we put our lesson in practice and pass with flying colors?
Everyone in our life is a messenger -- sometimes the message is an easy one to handle, sometimes the message is a challenging one. Many times, we mistake the messenger for the message. For example, when Ralph (whether Ralph is a person or your dog) behaves in a way that we feel is inappropriate, do we "get on the messenger's case"? Unfortunately, we often do. We get angry at the person (or the dog) who after all is simply here to assist us to become a better person -- by helping us learn patience, compassion, understanding, non-judgmentalism, unconditional love, etc.
I've noticed that in my life, when I can remember that everything happens "for a reason" and turns out for the best, it is easier for me to keep a calm, detached perspective. Instead of getting all worked up because something doesn't turn out the way it "should have", I can let go, and say, "somehow this will work out for the best".
Just the other week, I was delayed in leaving for a trip, and at first I was impatient at the cause of the slow-up. Then, once I got on the road, I came across an accident that had happened just a few minutes before. Thus, had I been "on time", I might have been involved in that accident -- and the person who caused my delay was actually there to help me be late so I would be safe.
We don't know ahead of time the reason for something -- so why not give people and events the benefit of the doubt, and rather than assume they are "negative", assume that, at some point, you will discover that they were a blessing in disguise.
We never know what the purpose of an event is -- other that we can be assured that "all is in Divine Order" even when we can't see the "positive" outcome way up the road. Everything happens for our highest good -- even the challenges, the hard spots, the person who's a "pain" -- everything and everyone is a Cosmic Messenger there to assist us on our life's path.
It is up to us to stop "killing the messenger" or giving the messenger, and ourselves, a hard time, and instead pay attention to the message. When we remember that everyone is our teacher and a divine emissary from the Universe, then we can see everything around us with a different eye, and start progressing much faster up the path of inner peace and enlightenment.
A Mini Course for Life
by Diane Cirincione and Gerald Jampolsky.
A Mini Course for Life offers you new choices for dealing with old challenges and presents amazingly adaptable lessons for solving problems and for whatever life sends your way. The selected concepts within the Mini Course are tried and tested and have been used with great success for over 30 years. They work on many levels from deeply personal to interpersonal and from situational to global. At all levels this course provides a profound new way of looking at the world. Using daily lesson cards included with the book, this course can be done individually or with another person. It will inspire you to be better at whom you are, happier in how you think, more passionate with what you do and more at peace with every part of your life.
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com