Managing the Seasons of Your Life
I recently spoke at a live women’s conference in Cleveland that was all about inspiring people to be the best version of themselves. At this conference there was a lot of talk about politics, COVID and the impact that this has had on our health and the way that we are showing up in this world. There were also many conversations on the upcoming holiday season.
Politics. Covid. The Holidays. These are just three examples of the seasons that we are currently experiencing in our lives.
Let’s first define a season.
A season can refer to the time of year—Winter, Fall, Spring or Summer—but it can also represent a time or event in our life such as our childhood, college years, working years or retirement, It can represent "before and after” events as in before and after having children, starting a company or getting married. It can also represent projects like wedding planning, preparing for a move, or participating in a fitness program.
There is a lot of energy that occurs around the various seasons in our lives.
That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the season you are in, and how you a relating to it. Every season you experience serves as an opportunity for you to either expand and grow or to use that season as an excuse or justification to stay the same.
We often view seasons as either “positive” or “negative." But the truth is that they're actually neutral. Let me explain...
When I say that a season is neutral, I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter or that you shouldn’t care about it, or that you won't have emotions around it. Rather, I’m saying that the seasons are neutral until you give them meaning. Just like every event in our lives. This is a difficult concept for many people. It feels like events and circumstances are the cause of our emotions. But events and seasons, do not have any control over you at all. You have free will. You get to decide what you are going to do in and with the season you are in. Simple? Yes. Easy? Absolutely not. This is hard news for some people to hear because it goes against what they have been taught - that certain events are "good," and others are "bad." And, when something "bad" happens, you have to feel "bad." The same is true for "good" events. When something "good" happens, you should then feel "good." The problem with this way of viewing seasons and events in our lives is that we inherently give control over to the external environment. We make the events responsible for how we feel and invariably, how we act. This is a place of powerlessness.
I want to be clear that I am not espousing that when an event happens that you should always choose joy. I am in the season of mourning my father's passing. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly and I still find myself bursting into tears. And, the beautiful thing about this experience is that I know that I am choosing to feel sad. I don't want to choose happiness right now. But, yes, even my father's death is a neutral event-we know that because different people, including you, respond to it differently. We are the ones who give our seasons meaning. I am the one who gets to choose if I am going to be upset about the events around his death. I am the one who gets to decide if I am going to replay my last moments with him through the lens of joy and gratitude or through deep sadness. Some days I choose sadness and some days I choose joy. As time passes, I am choosing joy more and more and that choice is all mine.
The way that I give my seasons meaning, and the way that you give your seasons meaning is simply through the way we think about them. That's it. And that is exactly where our power lies.
Our thoughts are powerful. Sometimes it may feel like we act without thinking, but the truth is that our emotions are always preceded by a thought, conscious or unconscious. During seasons that feel particularly challenging, we immediately tend to either react, resist or respond. As humans, we are conditioned to seek pleasure, avoid pain and to do it quickly! But this is where we must pause. In order to handle whatever is going on in our external environment—be it politics, death, a stage or the upcoming holidays—we must slow down this process and ask ourselves:
What am I thinking? What are my thoughts making this event mean? And what do I want to make this event mean?
This is where you get to choose. This is where you get to design your life instead of your life designing you. To have power over your life and anything that is challenging, you must engage on three levels. The first is through your thoughts—what you are thinking about that situation? The second is through your emotions—how are you feeling about it? And the third is through your actions—what are you doing? Are you reacting, resisting or responding?
In the midst of whatever season you are in, you have total power over how you are going to manage your thoughts, emotions and actions in relationship to whatever is coming up. That’s the T.E.A. and the key is doing it purposefully.
Remember: the season you are in is simply an event or moment in time, but your reaction or relationship to it is what gives it meaning. It is absolutely possible for you to be proactive and engaged no matter how challenging or overwhelming the season you are in may be! You've got this season.