I met a new friend recently and had the opportunity to spend a few days with her. I noticed a particular pattern. Every time she had an experience or person that she didn’t like she attributed it to herself.
She would interpret the person or experience as a lesson in teaching her what she needed to change or adjust within herself. Whenever she felt a negative feeling she looked for some kind of positive spin or explanation.
While looking at life this way can be a powerful spiritual perspective (others are our mirrors) and will create growth for us, the danger is accepting all unpleasant experiences as our responsibility. Sometimes a pile of shit is just a pile of shit and no matter how we look at it, it will still be stinky.
Sometimes someone is simply a jerk, or death is sad, or divorce sucks. But there are opportunities in those unpleasant experiences.
So, how do we know when it’s a stinky pile or fertile compost?
In nature, all piles become fertile compost. In life this means that there is always a valuable gift in any stinky pile. But, it’s tricky sometimes to know how to find that gift and leave the steaming mess behind.
Three things to consider as you sift through your stinky experiences.
1. Are you avoiding something? In the case of my friend, she was avoiding feeling painful feelings. Once she allowed herself to simply feel she could make confident choices for herself. Are you taking on all the stinky stuff as your own personal responsibility? How come? What would happen if you gave it back? How is it protecting you?
2. What’s this about for me? If you look for the lesson, then you might be able to determine how you want to respond in a new way. One of my clients determined that the dissolution of her marriage was exactly the right response. As a result she was able to learn several important life changing lessons. Once you understand the gift or lesson (the compost), then you can leave the rest behind (the pile).
3. Tune in to your Wise Voice and pay attention. Both my friend and my client could hear her own wisdom telling her what to do, but for whatever reason, each woman had a barrier to believing that her own Wise Voice was guiding her correctly. Often we allow our fears, old beliefs, and old barriers to create static to our own wisdom.
All of life’s experiences can be fertile compost. However, sometimes the growth is about saying no, or creating a boundary, or feeling your own feelings. Sometimes it’s about giving the stinky stuff back.