Last week I told a story of one of my Tai Chi students experiencing a profound change in the way she looked at and felt her energy. Today I want to tell you a brief story of how a viewpoint shift I experienced started to change the entire course of my life.
For almost 20 years I pushed my body through the demands and stresses of a high-paced corporate career. I was very successful in assuming increased responsibilities and receiving big promotions as a result. I did this in the midst of my silent struggle with immense physical challenges. My legs and ankles weakened; my balance was terrible; my arms and hands felt like needles were constantly pressing into the pores; my mind was foggy from strong steroids I had to take. It took 21 years from the first symptoms to definitively diagnose my condition as multiple sclerosis.
I kept pushing through. Mind over Body, I kept telling myself. Then one day in the early 1990’s a fatigue consumed me as my body told me, Body over Mind. I spent almost two years lying on my living room couch.
I had always been able to figure things out, come up with options. Not this time. I couldn’t go to work, drive a car, vacuum my carpet, go to the grocery store or go for a walk. I used my trusty cane, but only for a few minutes before my energy dropped and I had to lie down.
My mother, with her great wisdom, encouraged me. She suggested I ride down the elevator in my condo building, walk to the front door and then return to my apt. She suggested standing at my window looking out at Lake Michigan would be comforting. Stand for awhile, then sit or lie down.
My viewpoint started shifting. Rather than focusing on all the things I couldn’t do, I started focusing on what I COULD do. I did that, in small incremental steps. Little by little, a step at a time I started to get stronger. I started to increase the tasks I could do each day.
My mental shift from what I “can’t” do to what I “can” do started to change the course of my life.
I’d love to hear your story of how you changed the way you looked at things. What viewpoint shift did you have? How did it change your direction?