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A powerful little phrase came to me during a recent coaching session. I was working with a person who is coping with a great deal of pain involving the choices of her significant other. In talking about her life and the troubled state of the relationship, she kept saying that her friends are telling her that it is time for her to move on.

Obstacle Blaster readers know that I am more about personal development than dispensing relationship advice. Of course, the two often look the same… not unlike the way that a middle-aged guy being cautioned not to buy a garishly accessorized sports car might think he is being given financial advice. Related, but not the same.

As the term implies, personal development is about the person, not relationships. That being said, relationships tend to work better when the outlook of the people involved is as healthy and whole as possible. Conversely, if two people with a view of themselves and the world around them (as relates to them) are horribly challenged, then their relationship with each other will be too. So, what a joy it is to coach folks who want to see and approach things differently.

But, I digress.

After hearing several times the sentiment that maybe it’s just time to move on, I finally said, “Don’t move on; move up!” I explained that in times like this, we want relief from the pain, but we should also be mindful of the great potential for these circumstances to help make us a better, stronger, wiser person. Escape alone – moving on – will not get us to a better place mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

What happens when more thoughts are being filtered through a flood of hurt feelings than all the available offsetting facts? Depression, overwhelm, and a sense of hopelessness rule the day. In those times, moving on usually won’t really help. It isn’t enough. In order to get some needed balance to the outlook on things, we have got to start ordering our behaviors and thinking about things that help us move up rather than just moving on.

“… you are rising above the circumstances and putting yourself in a position of being able to see the bigger picture of life, you will see new and better opportunities that miserable people don’t see, and you will attract the kind of quality relationships with quality people you might never have imagined.”

How to move up, rather than just move on: Four suggestions…

PRAYER. Prayer helps, especially when it is predominantly about the needs of others. That might seem counter-intuitive, but think about it. There is a simple solution to the problem of constantly thinking about myself and my trials: thinking more (and more and more) about others and their needs. The more I am thinking about, and genuinely praying for, others, the less myopic my vision is of myself. It is also a way of acknowledging that I am willing and able to release all the circumstances of my life to the One Who is willing and able to really do something with them.

WORSHIP. Worship is a close second for exactly the same reason. Too much self-focus can be a form of idolatry. C.S. Lewis once said that we have three options: 1) to be God, 2) to let God be God and to honor Him with our life (even when it is an apparent wreck), or 3) be miserable. Worship helps us remain in Option Two.

BE GRATEFUL. Gratitude is another hugely important ingredient for anyone interested in moving up rather than merely moving on. We need to flow in a spirit of appreciation on a daily basis, but greater is the need for gratefulness when we don’t feel very grateful. For what? For everything. Even in the current ugliness you may be experiencing, there is good that can be gleaned from it. There are things we can be grateful for in literally everything. If you don’t see that, you are not looking for it. Even if it seems like a stretch, listing those parts of the pain that you are even somewhat glad for will help you rise above it.

LAUGH. Did you know that smiles and laughter are acts of faith? They absolutely are. When you make the decision to order your face to smile when you are not really feeling it, you are doing two very important things: 1) you are telling your emotions that they are not in charge of your life, and 2) you are telling the circumstances that they have not won, that you are not down for the count. You’re telling fear that you’re not afraid, you’re telling rejection that it is being rejected, you’re telling pain that it isn’t permanent, and you are telling yourself an important fact of the matter: that you know you are going to make it through this storm… better, not just barely.

So, smile when you have no particular reason to. Set your mind to look for things that are genuinely funny. Repeat jokes you’ve heard, even the corny ones.

When you pray, worship, express gratitude and give yourself permission to laugh, you are rising above the circumstances and putting yourself in a position of being able to see the bigger picture of life, you will see new and better opportunities that miserable people don’t see, and you will attract the kind of quality relationships with quality people you might never have imagined.

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