A farming accident…
Jamie was a chubby, friendly guy, twenty-eight years old, three years married and a two year old at home with his partner, Gwen. He was quick to laugh and had a soft, gentle way about him. He repaired small motors with his grade nine education. Jamie had been referred by an employment agency for career counseling since he had only one hand. His right hand, his dominant one, had been loped off just above his wrist in a farming accident the previous winter.
When I asked him how it happened he was characteristically nonchalant. He leaned forward putting his elbows on his knees and cradled his stump in his other hand. Then he said,
”You know…I should have know better than to stick my hand in that machine while it was still running!”
After hearing his story I asked him how I could help him.
An unemployed, one armed cripple…
It was then that his causal manner shifted. He looked up at me and said with a hard angry voice,
“I have been in recovery mode for the last year, I am in deeply in debt, I have a preschooler at home and another on the way…and just look at me…an unemployed, one armed cripple!”
Then he added, “I just don’t know what’s next for me…I don’t know if there is a next for me!”
I wanted to get him thinking instead of feeling like a victim so I responded with,
“Let me ask a question I bet no one has ever asked you yet.”
He looked up again with a curious stare. So I went on.
“What is the benefit to losing your right hand at this point in your life?”
His reaction was visceral…he jumped back in his chair like I had swung a two by four at his head.
“What did you say?”
“I said Jamie, what have been the benefits to you to losing your right hand last winter on the farm?”
Ken…there are no benefits.
He said, “Ken you are not listening to me…I am an unemployed, uneducated, unskilled husband and father with no future…there are no benefits!”
“Jamie this is what I am noticing. You came here today voluntarily. And, you have a wife and child waiting for you at home. At the very least this suggests, based on my professional experience, you have more determination than ever before in your life and you have learned to appreciate your family even more than before you lost your hand. Is that true Jamie?”
His entire body seemed to melt back into his more relaxed state while he stared at the floor as if he could see some insight there. Then he looked up and said, “I am mad as hell that I could be so stupid…I have made so many stupid mistakes in my life!”
Are you ready to do that, starting now?
“Jamie I don’t think it was stupid to come here today and I don’t think it was stupid to create the family you have made. If you are ready I can show you how to get your life back under your control. Are you ready to do that, starting now?”
“If you can help me get my life on track I’m interested…but how?”
We will focus on your thinking…not how you feel.
I said, “Here is how we will do it. First we will focus our work on your thinking…not how you feel. If you start taking control of how you think, it will give you control of how your feel immediately. Do you agree to do this Jamie?”
He responded, “My only hesitancy in coming to see you today was you would ask me how I feel …over and over and over. I don’t need to revisit that stuff I need to get on with my life, so I agree for sure!”
Learn some new, scientific ideas and tools…
“The second thing is you will need to be willing to learn some new, scientific ideas and techniques which may seem unusual at first. It is OK to be skeptical, that is healthy, but I will expect you to explore them with me and decide if they have value to you. Do you agree to do this too Jamie?”
“Ken, like I said if it will help me get a life I am in!”
Other benefits as well…
So we began our work together. We had one hour per week for ten weeks. Right away Jamie started noticing not just his increased determination and appreciation for his family but other benefits as well. For example he cited how he and Gwen had become much closer, how he had more time for his young daughter, how their families had rallied around them, how he had learned to be much more frugal with his limited income, how he had rediscovered an old friend and made a new one and how he had learned to take much more care with his health and safety than before the accident.
In that time Jamie also resurrected his old dream of being a conservation officer. He had always thought it would never happen with his level of education. But now he had the reason and motivation to pursue it.
Writing exams with his left hand…
By the fifth session Jamie has started back to school to finish his diploma. He was soon writing exams with his left hand. He was doing so well on them he was surprising, not just himself, but his family and friends as well.
I remember our tenth and last session. We were discussing the progress he had made. He was mulling over his the past weeks of hard work he had put in. That was when he said,
“You know Ken, I am going to be a conservation officer someday with a good job doing what I have always wanted to do. It will give me and my family a secure future. I was thinking the other day if I hand’t lost my hand I would still be working for that farmer. It is OK for some but not for me.”
“I guess you would, eh?” I responded wondering where he was heading with his comments
It was a fair trade…
Then he added, “So I am really lucky I lost my hand because I gained a future! In my books it was a fair trade!”
So Jamie had figured out one of nature’s most fundamental laws…the law of evolution. You are genetically wired for survival. So you are wired to avoid people and events that can endanger you. So for example,most poisons which are toxic to your body usually tastes bitter while sweet and salty nutritious foods do not.
You are also wired to be attracted to people and events which help you survive. So that is why research shows people in committed relationships live longer than those who are not.
If it doesn’t kill you it makes you smarter!
What we often don’t notice is this applies every time and all the time. People and events which we view as bad, traumatic or damaging also benefit us equally in other ways we may not have noticed. The law has been immortalized in the old saying, “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you smarter!
In our Take Away Tool this week you will find a way to test this law in your own life. Be skeptical…but please check it out. I will have more on this next time.
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER are:
1. You will always have important challenges in your life.
2. You are unconsciously motivated towards challenges which help you survive.
3. Each challenge provides vital information for your future.
4. Each challenge ensures you grow your self worth and self confidence.
5. Each challenge is a demonstration of the law of evolution.
6. Each challenge will have a perfect balance of support.
7. If the challenge didn’t kill you it made you wiser, go find that wisdom.
YOUR TAKE AWAY TOOL: “The Law of Evolution in Action in Your Life!”
Step One – Identify an event which you perceive only cost you. You cannot see a benefit from it?
Step Two – Go back to the time it happened and ask yourself these specific question:
I. How did it in some way strengthen my spirit or my sense of the essence of me?
II. How did it affect my view of myself, my self worth, my self esteem or my self confidence in some way?
III. How did it effect my work, my career or my ambition?
IV. How did it impact me in some financial way such as generating income, opportunities, or perhaps more self worth?
V. How did it improve some relationship(s) in my network such as bring a friend closer or create a new friend?
VI.How did it bring me closer to some member(s) of my family?
VII. How did it make me a healthier person such as by reducing my stress or generating more health or safety consciousness.
Step Three – Write down your answers in careful detail and review them. There will be at least one benefit in each area of your life and one area will impact another. So for example, when you raise your self worth, you often also take
care of yourself.
Step Four – Look carefully at your list and ask yourself this last question honestly, “Would I trade these benefits to erase this experience in my life?”
Step Five – If you would trade these benefits you have not uncovered all of them. So go back and find the rest. If you are unable to uncover them contact me and I will assist you. They have to be there. It is a law of nature and your existence proves this law it is in action in your life.