On February 1st of 2004, I lost a daughter to a rare bone marrow disease known as Fanconi’s (aplastic) Anemia. She died at home, surrounded by her loving family, as we pushed her over the edge with one morphine cocktail after another to ease her transition into the afterlife. At the time, it was one of the most difficult things I had ever had to experience. Fifteen months later to the day, my wife killed herself as a result, the difference in how we coped with Niki’s death and ultimately whether we survived it, came down to a difference of perspective.
Perception can be a Matter of Life and Death:
In short, I perceived that it was an amazing gift that Niki had lived for as long as she had because when she was five years old, she developed symptoms of the disease and the doctors told us that she would never leave the hospital, that she would never live to be six years old and that we should prepare for the worst. Niki lived for another nineteen more years and we did our best to ensure that she lived a full life during those nineteen years. Robin’s perspective was that she had been cheated, that her daughter Niki had been ripped away from her and that she had failed to save her daughter.
From my perspective, we had been blessed by the fact that Niki was in our lives for nineteen years longer than she was supposed to have lived. From Robin’s perspective, her daughter had been ripped from our lives and she had failed as a mother. The reality is that both Robin and I were completely justified in our opinion of the situation because it is merely a matter of our personal interpretation of the circumstances and events which led to Niki’s death.
Everybody has Challenges
The fact is that every person on earth will face challenges and obstacles which challenge their abilities and perceptions, Robin and I are not special, we do not have a corner on the market when it comes to tragedy. I merely share this experience with you as an example of how two people can share the same event and perceive it entirely different. The fact is that our perception of reality is created by the power of our focus, language and physiology.
What we choose to focus on becomes our reality. The language which we use to describe a situation defines it. And the manner in which we use our bodies, our physiology, affects our mood and our minds by changing our chemistry.
Look on the Bright Side
At the moment when Niki exhaled her last breath, we all witnessed a small wisp of grayish- blue smokefly out of her mouth under the guise of a death rattle, it appeared to all of us to be in the form of a dragon. It popped up from out of her mouth, hovered for just a brief moment and then flew down the hallway and into Niki’s bedroom. Niki’s grandmother Georgina actually chased it down the hall in hysterics.
It was in that moment that I realized that Niki was not dead, her body had merely worn out. But Niki’s spirit lived on and was already heading off to enjoy it’s next great adventure… Einstein’s Theory of Relativity states that energy can neither be created, nor destroyed, it merely changes forms. I view the events that I witnessed at the time of Niki’s passing to be an example of this principle. Perhaps that is why I survived the loss of a child while my wife Robin chose to end her life by suicide, at least this is reflected in the suicide note.
It Really is All About Perspective
So there you have it, a real life example of how to Look on the Bright Side even in the darkest of times. When I tell my clients to try and Look on the Bright Side, I’m not saying that from the perspective of a person who has never faced difficult times. Robin’s death was followed by my inheriting more than $750,000.00 in business debt; years of extensive litigation filed against me, the estate and our company, by her family; eventually the loss of our house; having to sell off the assets which we’d accumulated; the list goes on and on… I have every excuse that I need to be as jaded and bitter as I want to be.
However I consciously choose to “Look on the Bright Side” and focus on the lessons to be learned from all of this… To start with I learned that I am extremely resilient, that I am as Strong as a Lion (the archetype of my King) and that I am a Phoenix who is capable of rising up from the ashes when others would simply lie down and burn.
I learned how to work with creditors and business partners to find creative solutions for managing the debt and have paid most of it back. I learned how to develop new business strategies in order to be able to continue to operate the business in different ways despite the challenges which faced me. I have never been homeless despite losing a house and having to sell off a ton of personal possessions in order to survive… I learned that “stuff is just stuff” and that all that really matters is our perception of what those things represent in our lives.
And eventually I realized that the experience which I gained while fighting for my life provided me with a foundation of knowledge and perspective which might be beneficial if shared with other people who might be going through similar challenges and I became a “Strategic Intervention Coach” with training provided by Anthony Robbins and Cloe Madanes of Robbins-Madanes Training.
Contact me to schedule a free introductory session if you’d like to learn more about how to use focus, language and physiology to shape your perception and control your emotions. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter for more tips on how to improve your life! It’s full of tips for Personal Development and Personal Growth and I promise not to bombard your inbox nor spam you.