“Who do I want to be in this situation?” I kept asking myself as my son’s surgery approached. A neurosurgeon would perforate my 3-year-old son’s skull to move an artery from one side of his brain to the other that needed it more. Bloodflow wouldn’t be enough as his brain kept growing so he needed surgery to prevent another stroke from happening.
We had been waiting for this moment (with much dread and fearful anticipation) for over a year now, and as the date fast arrived this question (I had read somewhere a while back) kept coming to me, over and over again: “Who do I want to be in this situation”?
I had been experiencing significant anxiety during the weeks prior to the surgery, and although I’ve learned to accept this (very) unpleasant (and sometimes even debilitating) feeling as a part of my life now (an unwanted guest that rears its ugly head every now and then), I didn’t want it to be the driving force behind a moment like this. I wanted desperately to be at peace.
Peace, however, doesn’t come easy for me. Energy, drive, and passion? Not a problem. I’m naturally wired that way. It doesn’t take much for me to get pumped up and ready to jump through hoops if necessary. Peace and acceptance though? Not so much. These virtues I have to consciously work hard on.
How could I cultivate peace and acceptance during a time like this when I couldn’t even do it during ordinary adversity? As the date fast approached my uneasiness grew and my fear with it. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. This was the perfect recipe for my anxiety to take over the steering wheel and fully hijack the ride.
So I started by doing something I rarely ever do. I asked for help. I reached out to a very wise friend of mine, a soulmate of sorts, who reminded me I needed to focus all my energy on connecting with myself at a deeper level. “Do whatever it takes,” she said. “Watch videos. Read books. Repeat mantras and affirmations. Pray. Breathe. Whatever helps you stay present and get your family through this experience.” And I did.
I spent the days prior to the surgery doing anything I could to center myself in the present moment. I stopped pleasing my mind by dwelling into its thoughts, as I knew they were only hurting me. Instead, I started connecting with a force deeper in me that I usually forget is even there. And as I did, I started to feel the peace I had been looking for, telling myself: “The Universe has our back. We will get through this.”
Instead of pushing people away (as I tend to do when I’m struggling) I accepted help. I opened myself up to receive endless support from the people who love me. My heart became fully open and my spirit fully present. And just like that, an experience I originally thought would become one of the worst memories of my life became such a (bittersweet) blessing. One filled with great struggle but great unconditional love too.
I wanted to be a fully present, trusting, whole-hearted mother during this situation and I was. During this particular event, during this time in my life, I was. The question is, how can I be this person always?
How can we all be the best version of ourselves every moment of every day? Not only when important events take place. Those that force us to take a step back and challenge our whole perspective. But also when little grievances and petty annoyances present themselves during our everyday lives.
When someone cuts us off in traffic. When a coworker fails to acknowledge our efforts. When our children behave in unacceptable ways. When our partner disappoints us somehow.
Every single time life challenges us in the most mundane ways. How can we choose to react in a way that will later make us proud of ourselves? To be the best version of ourselves we can be?
We are a result of the decisions we make every single moment. Yes, our personality traits and early childhood experiences predispose us to act in certain ways. But we define our character and who we ultimately are based on our choices.
It may seem like it’s not always a choice but it always is. We choose (either consciously or not) who we want to be at any given time. Every. Single. Time.
So the question is: Who do you CHOOSE to be?