By Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “life will give you what you ask of it?” This is a phrase that I have heard off and on, but for a long time I never paid any attention to it. I did not recognize that I was constantly asking life for things, whether it was truly what I wanted or not.
I asked it for complications, set-backs, financial hardship, frustrations, and sometimes pain.
Did I do this intentionally? Well I guess it all depends on how you define intention. In some ways you could say it was my intention, at least at an unconscious level. It was my choice to make bad decisions, not give 100%, to stay in bad relationships, surround myself with the wrong people, and neglect the words of the people around me who were trying to give me good insights. It was also my fault that I did not believe in myself, my dreams, and the life that I truly wanted. However, it is hard to truly see what you have created when you are living lost in it.
When I worked as an investigator, I walked into a house to find that there was a deceased person sitting on the couch. The kids where playing around him and the wife was sitting next to him watching T.V., excited that she did not have to fight for the remote control. The body had been there for a few days and the smell was overwhelming, to the point that I had to keep running outside to get rid of whatever was left of my lunch. However, the people living in the household were desensitized, not only to the smell but also the reality. If you asked how they could manage the smell they would look at you like, “what smell?” Time and time again, whether it was as an investigator, counselor, coach, professor, speaker, or friend, I found that people get so wrapped up in their reality that they quickly find a way to cope, justify, and even embrace is as normal even if it’s not what they want.
We often deny to our self the possibility of a different reality because it forces us to look at ours.
Whenever I worked with a person who was in an abusive relationship, in a job that they hated, who had a person in their life that was driving them crazy, living in a place that they did not want to live in, or struggling financially, they would always sound like they had no other options, as if they were incarcerated in a prison of a choice that they had made. The more that I looked at others’ experiences, the more I looked at my own.
I started to question my reality, what I had done to create it, and what I could do to create something different. I looked for glimpses of other people’s realities and would tell myself, “if they can do it why can’t I?” As I started to look at the history of the parents whose children I was removing from the home, I quickly realized that many of them were removed as children as well. I was able to see that it was not that they were bad people, they were just following their patterns of what was normal to in their reality. Therefore, I shifted to working on creating program for the family, and I found that with the right information, exposure, and tools they would choose a different lifestyle if they truly believed that they would get better results in their life.
This made me ask what I could expose myself to that would change what I asked for in life. I asked what would give me insights that would make me question what was possible and make me make changes that I could have never imagined.
As I began to expose myself, I started to ask myself different questions in life. I started to have different expectations, and in turn I started to want to be exposed to more and different things. The road was not easy to change and I still strive to shift what is possible, but I have stumbled and failed my way to creating more and more of what I do want. One of the biggest keys was to embrace failure and not be disappointed by it. In fact, I started to see it as a positive—as the faster I failed the faster I learned and could make the changes I needed to make.
So ask yourself,
“Are you bargaining for penny’s?”
“Are you trying to make small changes and asking life for small things when you truly want much more?” Don’t be afraid of asking for a lot and expecting a lot!
Instead of taking small steps, as many people do when they are trying to change, I embraced massive action. The problems with small steps is that they don’t get us the results we desire in a way we can see it, so they inevitably do not motivate us. Small changes do not create enough momentum. At the same time, small steps drag things out for longer period of time, which can prolong the suffering or burn us out more. Massive action tells our mind that we are committed. Even in the event massive action does not produce better results or leads to seeming failure, it quickly gets us to the lesson that can help us make the changes that we need to get the results that we truly want.
When we are growing up we are taught that failure is bad. In school, they push for perfection, and when we get something wrong it is frowned upon and it makes us feel terrible. It deters us from thinking outside of our box, trying new things, or going for our dreams.
If you study any successful person that has created the life that they want, you realize that they are professional failures.
The difference is that they did not see failure as something negative, but rather as something that will help teach them learn what they need to know to get to where they want to go. I love the quote by Eckhart Tolle,
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”
Therefore, as you make changes in your life it would be in your best interest to see every obstacle and challenge as an opportunity to grow that gives you the tools to create the life you desire.
So, what do you do when you don’t get the results that you desired? Do you give up and go back to what was not working but that feels comfortable? Do you become resourceful and find different strategies? Do you approach it as a game and understand that you will not quit until you win?
One thing that was helpful for me was embracing the fact that sometimes I could not expect that what I asked for in life would happen right away. If you ask, you will receive, but you have to be willing to ask long enough. That time between what we want and what we get gives us clarity—clarity that helps us see whether what we wanted is truly what we desire.
Many things sound better in theory than they are in real life.
For example, I would see discovery channel and say how much I would love to go in the jungles in South America and stay for prolonged periods, exploring in complete wilderness. However, with more exposure to life (and jungles), I quickly realized that I actually enjoy (and require) some of the things the jungles do not have, like dependable drinking water, air conditioning, ability to be in an environment where I am not surrounded by bugs, warm showers and many other things. This is not to say that I would not still want to explore and visit, but my desired timeframe and expectations have changed. It may work for other people, but I have learned to change what I ask for. I used to think I wanted to work with individuals that had severe trauma and help them through the process of psychological healing. However, after a couple of years I realized that it was not my calling. Our experience, whether positive or negative, help us clarify what we want and do not want. Experience helps us ask life different questions, and in return we get different answers and different outcomes. So, ask yourself, “what am I asking out of life?”
If you’re not sure what you’ve been asking for, you can look to what you’re getting out of life for clues.
Whatever you do, be open to exposing yourself to a different reality, never stop asking for what you truly want, and be open to changing it as you experience teaches you more.
Joeel A Rivera, M.Ed., is a visionary, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. From an early age, Joeel faced adversity, including immigrating to the United States, failing his freshman year of college, losing his brother, and being in a nearly fatal car accident. These experiences inspired him to return to college, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology, with an emphasis on happiness. Joeel opened a non-profit teen center in honor of his brother and developed curriculums for the Juvenile Justice System. In almost a decade, Joeel has reached over ten thousand people as an educator, entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant. Visit www.ignitelife.me.