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Embracing All Your Experiences
Adapted from the works of Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

So much of Susan's work is about understanding why we feel the way we do and then using that knowledge to improve our lives. With this insight we are better equipped to deal with the uncertainty in our lives. The world outside may be falling to pieces, and deeply affect us in the process, and we often have very little power to change things. The only real control we have is how we react.

Susan wrote in Embracing Uncertainty, ''More and more, I am learning that while I have little control in the outside world, I have a lot of control in the ‘inside' world. And thoughts such as ‘It's all happening perfectly,' give me that inner power.''

Most of our worry and fear comes from reacting from our lizard brain, our Lower Self. Yet if we stop for a moment to think about it, we begin to see that we don't HAVE to react out of fear. If we can override our reactionary lizard brain and get in touch with our Higher Self, we can change our perception by choosing how we want to respond to any given experience. And given the opportunity, who would ever CHOOSE to feel anxious or powerless?

Objectively things might be awful - stuck in a bad job, going through a divorce, the death of a friend - but our perception of awful things is not objective. It's very subjective and personal. ''Perhaps the objective level is unimportant,'' Susan said. ''It is the subjective level that determines our experience of any given situation. It is the subjective level that determines how we interpret what happens in our lives.'' And this is exactly where our personal choices and our power come into play.

Everything in our lives, the good and the bad,
provides a great learning waiting to happen,
that is, if we train ourselves to embrace the learning
instead of embracing the unhappiness.

If we approach the uncertainties we find in life as an opportunity to learn and discover, then there are no bad experiences, only learning experiences. Spiritual teacher Wingate Paine said, ''Bad is how we see those experiences whose part in our growth we do not yet understand.''

Now this isn't easy, but by looking at bad experiences as opportunities to learn you can change something awful into an exploration of self-discovery. We are born to be worriers, it's part of our essential ''fight or flight'' reflexes. Yet it's up to each of us, on our own, to take responsibility to transform how our mind responds to uncertainty. We have to break the habit of seeing things through a fearful lens. By knowing that all experiences can be learned from, we can respond fearlessly to all the circumstances in our lives.

Susan explained, ''Can you now see that if you can turn your worry about all the uncertainty that envelops you into a sense of excitement and possibility, your experience of life will be greatly improved? If you can step out of the ‘drama' and watch the miracle of life unfold, you can ultimately see that uncertainty truly is ‘creativity in action.'''

In Embracing Uncertainty, Susan recommends two wonderful exercises that help you learn to reframe any experience. The first is the ''I Can Learn From This'' exercise. Whenever you have a reaction to something you are going through - whether inconsequential or life-changing - add the words, ''I can learn from this.'' For example: ''This meal is not worth the price ... I can learn from this''; or, ''Someone stole my phone ... I can learn from this.'' Get the picture?

The second exercise is the ''This Too Shall Pass'' exercise. Similar to the first exercise, add ''This too shall pass'' to everything you say. For example: ''I think I'm coming down with a cold ... This too shall pass''; or, ''My boss just gave me a big project that's due at the end of the week ... This too shall pass.'' See how it works? Those easy words take something that seems overwhelming and turns it into something that is part of your journey.

One of Susan's toughest lessons to incorporate in your life is controlling your own reaction to uncertainty. Make it personal! Make it powerful! Change from fearful to fear-less! Changing your thinking won't come easily, but, as with all things, practice, practice, practice!

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