Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode you will hear about Three Ways to Overcome Adversity, Remarkable Encounters, and Valuable Perspectives.
Comments or questions are welcomed on Twitter @emilykaytan OR on my website.
Hello and welcome to Episode #48 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Three Ways to Overcome Adversity, Remarkable Encounters, and Valuable Perspectives.
Three Ways to Overcome Adversity
Adversity, defined as hardships, challenges, or misfortune, may be experienced in anyone's life at one time or another. But how many adversities can one endure? A cat is said to have nine lives, but as humans, we only have one life. Still alive after identifying forty-seven adversities (episodes), I wonder how much any human can take. Some people turn to drugs, alcohol, violence, or engaging in illegal or unlawful things to temporarily relieve the pain. While enduring the pain and suffering throughout life, I sometimes wonder how I didn't turn to those things that would cause even more misery or suffering.
As an ex-boyfriend once said, I am a fighter. I used to consider it criticism. Today I consider it a compliment! I fight until I can stand back up after falling. I drive myself to persist until I complete or accomplish something I started. My drive seems to be automatic because I know not what keeps me ticking! I can only think of Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest" and my human instinct to do whatever I can to survive.
Through unearthing and analyzing some of my adversities, I discovered three powerful tools to survive adversity. Aside from the instinct to survive or a character driven to survive, I have three tools or methods that can be accessed at any time. They are not made just for me. Anyone can seize these remarkable treasures, which have allowed me to find many moments of joy in between misery.
We all have the ability to create or uncover the creativity that is within us. Desperate for money to go to college, pulling creativity out helped me fund my college education. When others said I couldn't do something or that something was too difficult, creativity came forward to give me ways to accomplish what I wanted. When I was starving during college vacations, I found ways to fill my stomach with little money. Having to juggle full-time work and school, I invented efficient ways to get everything done. Fainting spells of darkness helped design more beauty in my views when I escaped the darkness. Seeing a group of men who lost their legs from minefields and playing musical instruments to make a living under a roof of leaves and branches allowed me to see that anything is possible with creativity.
We all have the ability to learn. We can always learn something new or learn lessons from our challenges. I learned forgiveness from a broken heart and practiced being in the present more often. I learned how to find courage from going through a divorce. I discovered my deeply hidden abandonment issues from waiting too long for someone. I realized the detriments of self-righteousness from a difficult marriage. I learned to manage my money when I had to prove my financial independence as a teenager. Helping Grandma cook and clean led me to live in an apartment by myself seamlessly. I understood compassion and became present with the value of humans when faced with a stranger close to my face. I changed my practice in carrying money when a thief snatched my purse. Openness to learning can only give us more ideas and life lessons.
We can always alter our perspectives. When we change our views or stories, we can change our feelings or emotions, which affect our satisfaction in life! Because Grandma said I was stupid, I thought I was stupid. When I declared myself intelligent, I changed my perspective and improved my self-esteem. Because Mom tossed me out at age five, I thought I was unwanted and unloved, but with a change in my story of how I saw it, I gave myself hope that I could be wanted and loved. When I diminished my perceived fear of people through my skydiving experience, it was clear that we create fear in our minds, and we can change our fearful perceptions at any time. When I discovered that people were only jealous of me because I had something of value that they wanted, it changed my perspective of myself. It gave me more confidence instead of annoyance. With no need to be right, please others, or justify oneself to others, I feel the joy of being my authentic self.
Look around you and look from within you. You have the tools to survive adversity. Creativity, perspective, and learning all give us ideas to turn the impossible into I am possible.
Every day we can encounter people wherever we go. Many people could be just people we pass by without direct interaction or conversation. We may relate to some briefly, weekly, or daily. Regardless of the amount of time, some leave no impression, a small or large impression, or a short or long-lasting impression. Some are easily forgettable, while others are unforgettable. And then some leave a powerful or impactful effect.
With some pondering and reflection, I spotted some brief or distant encounters like storms passing nearby, barely touching, but altered the course of my life. Of course, there were also those encounters with people who become close or related to you, too. And there are those encounters that come into your life for a while and then vanish forever.
One phone call to a lawyer I picked out of the yellow pages led me to solve an enormous problem: Money to pay for college. Had he not come up with an ingenious idea to help me, I might not have been able to be a college graduate, and the course of my life would have been totally different. I only spent a brief amount of time with this lawyer, but the difference he made set me on the path of hope for my future.
After graduating from college, I hadn’t made a final career choice. I was a teaching assistant to a special education teacher in the interim. Because I saw the teacher hoist a small and skinny child upside down, swinging him like he was using him to sweep the floor, I was appalled. In that moment of shock, I decided I was to become a teacher and do a better job of caring for children. That scene and that teacher led me to a career in teaching spanning over twenty years.
While working on my Master’s thesis using a computer in my uncle’s home office, I overheard a conversation between two of his employees. It led me to call and register for the Landmark Forum, a worldwide personal development organization. Had I not participated in the three-day event, my life would have continued to be most miserable. Because I enrolled, my life was forever changed for the better. I acquired the tools that would help me face adversities with strength, appreciate and embrace the wonders of life with joy, and view the world through the lenses of power and choice.
While working on my thesis at my uncle’s place, I also came to spend some time with a grandmother I didn’t know very well. Because she was terminally ill, I had the opportunity to practice some compassion, of which I had little. Though we did not talk much, the tiny amount of communication between us affected me deeply. She was present when I was a small child and knew that I was not treated well by my parents. Her few words told me that she understood my pain with sympathy and empathy. Had I not spent the short amount of time I did with her, I would have thought my treatment was all in my imagination. She gifted me a most precious gift: Don’t let anyone take away your importance; you matter.
Though I was dedicated and loved my career as a teacher, my husband’s friend invited us to a business opportunity. I never considered going into business because I had a fulfilling career, but I tagged along. Because of the chance invitation, I stepped onto a roller coaster ride of a lifetime. Had I not gotten involved, I would have never exercised my entrepreneurial muscles and experienced many things outside the box.
Though involvement in the business eventually ended in disaster, a new opportunity appeared. One man who gave me a five-minute interview over the phone and hired me led me to move to an island nation. Had that not have happened, I would have never moved abroad to live and work and enjoy years of living in paradise. And it all started with that one phone call.
While in paradise, a brief conversation with an acquaintance led to a remarkable statement from my mouth: When I write a book about my life, I don’t want to have any blank or boring pages, and who could have guessed that ten years later, I wrote my first book!
Though many encounters may be forgotten, some leave indelible prints far from being boring. A short statement from my dad, whom I rarely spent time with, always reminded me to stop and pay attention to what was in front of me, or life would pass by without notice. The mother who barely raised me and only visited me briefly always left hurriedly without turning around to say goodbye led me to grow up and do the same with all my relationships.
Some encounters leave you to be a changed person. Keith, my first boyfriend, who was the most extraordinary emotional support in my life, always left me with the heart to have hope and keep moving forward with progress or improvement. It was his persistent encouragement that gave me the strength to be strong. Forever, my love, he is.
And then there was Everett. This encounter I met through a language exchange. We conversed in so much detail that he also knew me quite well. What he left me with was a priceless gift. Through our conversations about our life experiences, he helped me realize and appreciate the value of my life. With all the adversities I endured and overcame, with all the unique encounters I came to know, and with all the perspectives I created and generated to find joy in between, he helped me realize that my life is an abundant life full of different spices. We all have our unique stories; we have but to uncover and reveal them to bring forth a life lived with beauty and substance.
Who is to say which perspective is right or wrong? I say it is not about which is right or wrong. What matters is which view is helpful or useful to someone. You may search for perspectives, but you also form your own stories in your mind. You know that you have selected the right ones if they help you move forward positively and healthily.
Sometimes, we may not be aware of distinguishing between the facts and the stories. That is to say, remember to separate the facts or reality from the interpretations. Make note not to mix and confuse them. With clarity, it is easier to decipher, perceive, and choose perspectives that contribute to well-being.
My twenty-plus year sob story: Mom sent me to live with Grandma when I was five years old; that is a fact. Mom tossed me over to Grandma because she didn’t want me or love me; that was my story. That was how I interpreted it. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant because what is more important is the story that will contribute to my well-being. When I thought that I was unwanted and unloved or when I treated the perception as a fact, I lived behaving that way. It was detrimental to my self-worth and self-esteem, affecting every aspect of my life. I was helpless; I was a victim of my own story that I unknowingly created. When I came to separate fact from fiction (my story or my interpretation), I reclaimed my power. Though I cannot change the fact or the past, I do possess the ability to change the story, my interpretation, or my perspective! With such power, I can also create and choose one that would be beneficial. With the power in my hands, I prefer the story that says I was fortunate to have been raised by Grandma, who loved and cared for me. She even passed down values that I treasure to this day.
Birthday celebrations: The older I got, the more I disliked birthdays because it meant I was getting older and older, and there was nothing I could do to stop the aging process. I realized how carrying that perspective made me unhappy, so I changed my story. Now I celebrate my birthdays with what I have accomplished. After each birthday, I make it my mission to complete something on my bucket list. It is not pressure; it is actively doing something to make my dreams come true, one wish at a time. As the next birthday approaches, I rejoice not just for the accomplishments but for the wisdom and experience I gathered.
The most important person: I used to get depressed and down on myself when I didn’t have a boyfriend, husband, or relative I could call one of the most important people in my life because it meant I was unloved and unconnected. That was my story, and I was looking outside of me. As I filled the pages of my life with many words, I looked inside of me and discovered the most important person was unacknowledged and unrecognized! I am the most important person because I can always count on me to be there for me no matter what! I tickle with joy to love this person who is me.
From greed to no desire: I felt defeated when I didn’t make millions in business. I thought of myself as a failure when I lost my house. I am a mature woman and have seemingly lost everything at this point in life. All my hard work, getting myself to college, earning a Master’s degree, sustaining a successful career, owning homes and cars, living and working abroad, and gallivanting all over Asia, seemed to disintegrate. It didn’t mean anything because now I had nothing. No house, no car, no family have I; am I now just a shell of a person? Moving and living abroad, I realized I didn’t need all the material possessions I once had. I didn’t even miss them. My perception changed as my simpler life gave me a carefree and contented life on an island nation.
The meaning of life found: I went to Bhutan, and my perspective about possessions, accomplishments, or success in life further changed. Surrounded by nature and benevolence, my head felt unstrained, clear, and light. I read an essay in a high school literature book while preparing lessons for my volunteer work. The writing piece gave me an eye-opening moment. I felt enlightened. Joy and relief came when I discovered that I didn’t need possessions or accomplishments to prove my success or worth. Achievements and victory were already in my hands! I could overcome all my adversities, appreciate all my encounters, and take all the helpful perspectives that combine to produce the invaluable person that is me. The value of me is not in what I have or what I got. It is in the character of who I am or who I will become.
While we may all have adversity, encounters, and perspectives, take note of them. Overcome adversity with creativity, learning, and perspective. Appreciate encounters with what they have to offer. Take, create, or enjoy the perspectives that would make a difference in your life and remember, live!
Key Takeaways: Though I have had plenty of adversities, I overcame them with creativity, learning lessons, and new perspectives.
Though I have had a variety of encounters, I have had many that made a difference in my life.
Though I have encountered much negativity, I have created perspectives that help me move forward.
Next week, you will hear new real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe on Youtube, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com. Thank you for listening!