Episode 162: In the Face of TragedyJun 09, 2022
We live in a world where everybody has the right to choose actions that impact everyone else and we also live in a world that works according to natural law. These two realities mean that tragedy, accidents, injustice, crime, catastrophe, and disaster are an inherent part of your human experience.
And sometimes this is terrifying. Sometimes it feels like there is too much pain and too much uncertainty, too much unpredictability and too much vulnerability to handle.
In today’s podcast episode, I am offering some thoughts to consider in the face of tragedy—not so that you can feel good about bad things, but to help you get good at choosing how you want to feel and using that choice to create safety and love, even in a world that you do not control.
Hello Podcast Universe. Welcome to the 100% Awesome podcast. I'm April Price and I am happy to be with you today, to be in your ears, to be a part of your life. It is such a privilege to have a piece of your time and your mind and your heart. And I do not take that for granted. You have been on my mind a lot lately and I wanted to record this podcast today and give you a little hope, a little love, a little bit different perspective and ways to see, especially the really difficult, awful, hard things about being a human and really speak to that and give you some comfort and some tools and some things that you can use when life is difficult.
So I sort of feel like on this podcast sometimes, like I'm just like a step behind where you all are in that. Like I remember when my son was on his mission and we could only communicate through emails and he would send me a letter or an email like describing his week. And let's say it was like a really challenging, difficult week. And then I would get that email and read that email. And then the next Monday, when I wrote again, I would be addressing all his concerns and his sorrows and his heartaches and his grief. Right?
And I would like the saying all these things as a comfort to him. And then like he would send an email on that same preparation day and it was all about how that week was amazing and everything was going well and like the obstacles that he had the week before are no longer a problem. And then like I would be like, okay. And then so I would write the next letter about like, Yay, I'm so excited for you and he'd be back down. And it just felt like I was always like one week behind wherever he was. And I sort of feel like that right now.
So I'm recording this podcast just a couple of days after the horrible, tragic shooting that happened in Texas, the school shooting. And I'm not sure exactly when this is going to be published, but I know that whenever it is, it will probably be a week or two after and maybe, you know, these things won't be top of mind in your life anymore. But what I know for sure is that because you are a human tragic, awful, scary, hard things will come again. And so I just thought I would record this podcast at this moment in time to give you some tools and thoughts and whether it's useful to you now or in the future.
I think that it is worth saying these things and worth thinking about them in your own life. And so wherever we are in space and time, if we are still having a human experience, learning how to think about suffering and learning how to think about tragic circumstances can be very useful and powerful. It can help us be resilient. It can help us have hope. It can help us to take action where we want to take action in the world and not just get lost in confusion and overwhelm and like hopelessness. And so I hope that this will be useful and comforting to you wherever you are in time and space when you are hearing this.
And just before I get started, I just want to let you know that if this is before June 23rd and 24th, I want you to know that I have a special event going on June 23rd and 24th where it's I'm calling it the mid-year reset. And I'm going to give you the tools that you need to be able to like it’s been a challenging year, right, in so many ways. And many of those challenges has have kept us like emotionally and mentally stuck. And we haven't, you know, really taken the action towards creating the life we want, intentional life that we want, and maybe we haven't, like, really accomplished the things that we really want to. And it just feels like, like life just happens to us. Terrible things happen. And then, like, we just get off track and we're just trying to survive.
And wherever you are in your year, like, we can all use a shot in the arm. We can all use a reset. We can all use new thoughts to like help us to recognize our own power to create what we want in our lives. And so I want to invite you to this free event. It's going to be for an hour on the 23rd and 24th. It's going to be at 9 a.m. Pacific. And I just want to be of service to you, of help, to you.
I think wherever you are in your life right now, the thoughts and tools and things that I'm going to teach you in this workshop will give you a new perspective and new energy as you go to create the things you really want. I think if the last few days have told us anything, it is that life is both challenging and precious, and I want you to be able to make the most of it. And that is the goal of this event to just help you make the most of your earth life experience.
Okay. So let's get on to the podcast today. I want to just start by stating the obvious that we live in a world where everybody has the right to choose. And those choices impact every other person. Right? We live in a world where anything can happen because anybody can choose. And some of those things are tragic and awful and harmful and painful. We live in a world based on natural law. And so bad things that are out of our personal control are going to happen. And I want to give you some tools today to help you experience those bad things that are, for the most part, outside of your control and decide how you are going to think about them.
So I think sometimes we can have the misunderstanding that because we are creating our thoughts and choosing our thoughts, and because those thoughts create our feelings, then we sort of assume that then we should always feel good. And I do not think that. I do not think that the goal is to feel good and positive about things that we believe are wrong or bad or awful or tragic.
So in coaching, we talk a lot about the idea that circumstances are neutral. That circumstances in and of themselves are not bad or good. They are just things that happen. And sometimes we take that to mean that if circumstances are neutral, then I shouldn't have any thoughts about them, I shouldn't have any feelings about them, that I should just be able to observe them and not have any emotional reaction whatsoever or any thought at all.
And I want you to know that while circumstances are neutral, your thoughts are not, your feelings are not, and they are not supposed to be. You do not have to think and feel neutrally. And in fact, you shouldn't. When I say circumstances are neutral, that means that circumstances are 100% open to interpretation and you are the chooser of that interpretation. It means that no thoughts or feelings are inherently attached to this circumstance, or there are no thoughts or feelings that are required to think that have to be thought and felt in this circumstance.
But then, in every one I am choosing. Now, why does that matter? It matters because it puts you in charge of your experience. So this does not mean that we shouldn't ever feel pain. It means that we are choosing our pain and we want to. And that is just so powerful to know.
So, for example, when it comes to this school shooting, my pain is not caused by what happened. It is caused by my thoughts about what happened, about other people's suffering, and about my thoughts and judgments about how other people have used their agency incorrectly, in my opinion. Right? Right now I have thoughts about how people should use their agency, and I don't think they should use their agency to take someone else's life. Maybe you have that same thought and I would offer you that I want to keep that thought. And maybe you do too. Which means that if we keep that thought that other people shouldn't use their agency to take other people's lives that means we keep the pain of it as well.
And that doesn't mean it's wrong. It doesn't mean you're choosing wrong. It means I am choosing my thoughts. And that means I am choosing the feelings of pain. And I want to. It means I am deciding my experience, the circumstance or the person that created that circumstance is not choosing my feeling. I am. I own my life. I own my emotional experience. They don't.
And so when bad things happen, when the world is scary and awful, I want to offer you the idea that perhaps you want to feel bad about this, right? When we feel bad, almost immediately, we're just like, oh, no, right? Like I feel bad. Other people are suffering. Our instinct almost always is to think like, okay, well, how do we change this so we never feel bad and there is a place for change. And I'm going to get to that at the end of the podcast. But first I want us to see that like we're trying at first to make those changes so that we don't feel bad.
And I think that is the lie. I think that is the thought error, this idea that we don't want to feel bad when in fact we do. When there is loss, when there is like this kind of exercise of agency, we, in fact, want to feel bad. So giving yourself permission to choose thoughts that that make you feel bad is so important. It means like, yes, I feel bad and I want to. I am choosing thoughts that create it and I want to when other people suffer, I want to feel bad.
Okay. And it's kind of opening to that human experience of choosing to feel bad when other people suffer instead of trying to solve it and pretend like no one should ever feel bad. Okay. So again, we're going to get to changing things in a minute and reducing suffering. But in this moment, we cannot change what has happened and there is only an invitation to our own and allow your choice. Knowing like you want to feel bad is so powerful and so freeing, right? When I feel like, okay, I feel bad in this moment and I don't want to and this other person, because of their choices, made me feel bad. That just makes you feel powerless and vulnerable and victimized. It's a completely different to know. Like, in fact, I am choosing this, I am choosing to feel bad. And when I know that, that makes me feel. Safe and protected and powerful because I am the one choosing my experience.
When we understand that we created our feelings and we want to. Then like those feelings are validated by us. They are owned by us, they are our choice and we know it. And that already gives us more power in this situation than we had before. So that's the first thing I want to offer you. When the world is scary and awful is that there is power in recognizing that you are choosing your pain and you want to you want to because that is the kind of human that you want to be, the kind that suffers when other humans are suffering.
Okay. After we figure out that we are choosing our experience and we've decided, yes, in fact, in this situation, I want to choose pain, the next thing to do is to have the physical experience of that pain, of those feelings. When we feel this kind of pain, our instinct almost immediately is to, like, go up in our mind and try to solve it, try to understand it, try to learn more like we did on the news. We're like, I need someone to explain this to me. It doesn't make any sense to me, right? We like we want to argue with it.
We want to fix it. We want it not to have happened. And we're like kind of up in our mind, like, swirling in our thoughts about it.
So I want to offer you that the experience of, like choosing your feelings and wanting to choose them also includes feeling those feelings. It is a physical experience inside your body. It's not going to happen in your head. And I would invite you out, out of your thoughts and into your body.
There is no right way or wrong way to feel. But the feelings that you have chosen need to be felt. It's not going to be helpful to choose feelings and want to like make that choice, but then try to ignore the feeling in your body. Your body was designed to process every emotion that you feel. And I really want you to think about your body as the vessel of those feelings. Just a place where you can hold your feelings and experience them. Drop into your body and notice.
What am I feeling? Where am I feeling it? Where do I feel? Tension and tightness and vibration. Where is it? Fast or slow or hard or soft? What is happening physically? And really allow yourself to feel those feelings. I like to really visualize myself as a vessel just holding the emotion. I don't need to fix it. I don't need to be like the fix it agent in there, like trying to fix that emotion. I don't have to be the judge or the referee saying, okay, that emotion is loud and that one is not right. I don't have to be like a drum where the emotion is just like, bounce off of me.
I think of myself as a vessel and I recognize I am choosing sadness. And this is the part where I feel sad. What does that feel like in my body? This is the part where I'm outraged. This is the part where I'm devastated. What does that feel like in my body? What does it mean to be a human choosing and feeling this feeling? Processing the emotion you've chosen is such an essential part to being able to move on to the like, productive actions that you want to take going forward.
It allows us to not stay stuck where we are and stuck arguing with what is. Instead, what we want to do is acknowledge that all of these feelings are allowed, process them, and that clears our mind and our body to be able to do what comes next.
Okay. Now I want to talk about actions like what we do in situations like this. What does come next? After I have chosen the pain and want the pain and felt the pain in my body? What do I do next? So a lot of times, especially in coaching, we talk about how you can't change circumstances.
And this just like allows us to stop arguing with it and decide like, okay, if I can't change what's happening in the world, what am I going to think and feel and do? But this is a really simplified version of things because of course, we cannot change circumstances that have happened. But I believe that any action we take in the world does affect future circumstances, does change the world as a whole.
So the way that I think about that is I want you to notice that when that shooter went into the school, his actions changed the circumstances of the world. His actions, the things that he chose to do did have the power to change the circumstances of the world. But he is no powerful than you or I. We are all living under the same set of rules, which means that anything you do, any choice you make, any action you take in the world will change the circumstances of the world that you're living in. It will change the world of the people that you live with.
And so I like to think about, okay, what actions do I want to take to change what will and can happen in the future? When I say that we don't have power to change circumstances, I don’t mean the ones that have just happened.
Right? And notice, I'm not trying to change those circumstances so that I can change like the pain in my life. I've chosen that pain. I'm choosing to take action in my life because it will change what is available in the future. It will change what is available in this world that I live in. So instead of throwing up our hands and saying, There's nothing that I can do, like people just get to choose. You have to recognize. Like, if their choices can change my world, then my choices can change the world also.
And that can be so empowering. Like we need to ask ourselves. If I knew that my actions could change, the circumstances going forward could change what's available in this world. What would I do? What can I do? What are the gifts and abilities and talents that I have that can make a difference in the healing of this world? And then we can go to work to do that.
But we are so much more powerful in that work when we're not doing it to try like solve the pain that we have chosen. Instead, it's like, I am responsible for my pain. I have chosen that pain. I want that pain. I can feel any feeling, whatever I've chosen and. I know that I can make a difference. What do I want to do to change the possibilities that are ahead of me and not just me, the rest of the world that I live in?
The last thing that I want to say to you is that being a human is an act of bravery. In this moment, your brain is freshly aware of your vulnerability. It's like freshly aware of everything that is dangerous in the world and all the ways things can go wrong and all the ways other people's agency can, like, ruin your life and take the things you love and and create loss and grief and absence for you. But it has always been that way. You are always as vulnerable as you have ever been. Today, in this moment, I'm as vulnerable as I was ever. It's just that my brain is freshly aware of it. And most of the time in our lives, our brains are just pretending that we're okay.
We're just pretending that we're not at risk so that we can get through our lives. And every once in a while we come to these moments where we recognize anew, like, Oh, I have so little control and I am vulnerable. And of course, that makes us scared. And just loving another person, just choosing to bring children into this world and to have a marriage and to like love another is an act of bravery.
I was recently watching the movie Arrival, and I might have already just talked about this, but I was thinking about how, you know, at the beginning of that movie you're seeing these like what you think are flashbacks of this woman hurt, her child dies, her marriage ends. And you're kind of like seeing these. Like it feels like they're flashbacks of her life. And you see, like, why she's grieving. And then as the movie progresses, you suddenly recognize like, oh, my goodness, these were flash forwards. These were visions of what was coming, that her marriage was going to end and that she was going to lose her daughter. Her daughter was going to die. And she was having these visions long before she got married and long before she had this child.
And, you know, you just have this moment like, oh, my goodness, she knew what was going to happen and she chose those experiences anyway. And I was sort of sitting there thinking like, would I do that? like if I knew my child was going to die, would I do that? And then I had this like realization where I was like, Oh my goodness, I have done that. I have entered into a marriage knowing at some point one of us will die. It will end. We will leave. Like there will be loss and grief. Someday my children will die.
And I'm not in charge of when, like each one of us, whether we know it or not, have, like, made this choice. We have made the choice to love. When we are all vulnerable to loss. And in fact, that loss is inevitable. But I think that makes the choice even more sacred. I think it makes the act of love even more brave.
And so many of us are trying to control the vulnerability and like reaching outside of us, trying to think like in order to be safe and to feel okay, I've got to change the fact that I am vulnerable. And the truth is, we are never going to change that. We are vulnerable because we live a human existence. And what we have to change is our thought about what makes me safe in that the safety will never be created outside of us. It is created inside of us by the way, we choose to think about our choice to love. And our choice to feel pain. When we know that we have chosen both, we are safe. We know that this is what we want, in fact, and that makes us safe and brave and wonderfully human.
And I believe not only human, but I also believe it makes us more divine. Because God doesn't live in the absence of pain. He lives in the presence of all of it all of the time. It is always before him. He isn't beyond our pain. It is always before him, all of it. And he doesn't magic it away with his power. Instead, his power is that he has learned to be the vessel, to hold the abundance of that pain, and to love any way to love everyone in the story.
And that is our challenge as well. When the world is scary and awful your most powerful place is to acknowledge that you want to feel pain, that you choose pain because you also choose love in the world that we live in. No one acts in a vacuum. All of our choices impact each other, and sometimes that can feel like a really terrible thing. But remember that it also means that your choices have an impact as well, which means that you get to choose love. You get to choose to heal. You get to choose to add to the compassion and understanding and the grace around you.
And all of those choices also change the circumstances of the world that you live in. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome. I love you for listening, and I'll see you next week.
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