The Legend of the Phoenix
The Phoenix. A bird of legend. A mythical creature.
As legends go, the Legend of the Phoenix is found in many cultures around the world. It was the Greeks who named the bird Phoenix, but it exists in Egyptian lore as well as in Native American, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese lore.
The legend suggests that the Phoenix lived for 500 to 1,000 years. Then, near the end of its life, the bird built its own funeral pyre using herbs, spices, and dried twigs and branches. Exhausted from its long life, the Phoenix laid down on the pyre and it burst into flames. The flames reduce the pyre and bird to ashes. In a few days, however, the Phoenix rose from the ashes more beautifully.
The Phoenix had lived a long life and was tired. We can only imagine what experiences life had handed the bird. (After all, this is mythology.) It is my guess that the bird had experienced, or at least seen a wide range of adversity.
Have you ever had adversity visit your life?
Before we talk about adversity, I want you to think about what adversities life has handed you. (NOTE: In the next section, I’ll talk about the types of adversity.)
Adversity changes you. It can change who you think you are and cause you to question your beliefs. It can change how strong you think you are, not necessarily physically, but mentally and emotionally. Depending on how you react, adversity can change how others see you.
When adversity visits our lives, many times we trip and fall. If you let that adversity (that fall) plant its roots deep within your soul, it can cause depression and other illnesses as you struggle daily to regain your composure.
BUT, life will always throw adversity at you. I’ve come to say that “life lifes” at you; in other words, just when you think life will be easy, there is either a roadblock, a detour, or a speed bump life throws in your path that causes distress.
What are the adversities in life?
How we handle a fall goes back to at least elementary school when you took your first test or handed in that first project that didn’t garner you a score or grade you felt you deserved. What did you do after getting that test or project back? Whine and complain? Show a parent and complain that the teacher doesn’t like you? Or did you ask the teacher yourself why you received the grade you did? Did you ask for help? Or did you realize that you just hadn’t put in the effort?
We fall more often than we realize. That promotion you didn’t get at work. A separation or divorce. The time you tried to be someone you weren’t to get someone else’s approval, and your facade was seen through.
We all have those falls. Some like to call them failures, or a fall from grace. We disappoint ourselves, our parents, or our partner.
It is, however, what you do following that fall that makes a difference.
How do you move forward? Do you wallow in self-pity or get up and try again?
Me? Yup, I’ve fallen. I set the bar for myself and blame life for what happens. It’s not life’s fault if I don’t pick myself up and move forward. And yes, in most cases that is easier said than done.
But if you don’t try to make the best of every day and do your best every day, you can get stuck in your fall. Don’t let that happen to you.
How to Rise from the Ashes
I’d love to tell you it is easy to rise from any adversity that comes your way, but I can’t. Here are some techniques I use when life throws adversity in my direction. Sometimes I begin to deal with the fire before the flames of adversity have completely consumed me; other times the adversity is just too complicated, and I wait it all out, take a break, and rise stronger because of the experience.
TECHNIQUE 1: Self-care
It is good to know what forms of self-care work to balance your energy and mood on a daily basis. These are your go-to forms of self-care.
When I was in elementary school, I learned that I needed to remove myself from adversity and let the storm blow over. I would set out on a bike ride or a long walk.
When I had young children, that long-distance coping mechanism didn’t work. I craved to get out and walk, but with thirteen year old and an eleven-year-old, leaving them alone was not a good choice. It was then I learned to power-walk the driveway. I took the energy focus of walking and molded it to the confines of my current reality.
Other self-care activities that work include a candlelight bath, escape into a cheesy romance novel, or simply putting on headphones and calming music.
TECHNIQUE 2: Find your support system. Those people who are experiencing the same adversity as you and TALK to them.
With what technology has given us over the past 20 years, this is much easier than it was when my ex-husband walked out on me, and I divorced him. Internet in those days was mostly dial-up with AOL chatrooms, but it was difficult to find the right group of people to talk to.
Social media has infiltrated our lives and finding like-minded groups today is much easier. In fact, you don’t have to share your story in social media groups to get help from them. Listen (read) to the advice people are giving to others. Then, weigh the advice and determine if it would be good for you.
Personal friends who you can talk with over coffee, a grief group, or a group of caregivers can form the necessary support system you need.
TECHNIQUE 3: Find your power songs.
Most of us have at least one power song. The song that makes you stand up straight and say, “Yes, I can.” Find that song, and then find more songs like it to speak to you and build your confidence.
Interested in my current list of power songs? (CLICK HERE!)
TECHNIQUE 4: Find your affirmations.
Although self-affirmations first gained popularity in the 1920s (Check out the Psychology Today article HERE), I didn’t come across the term until at least 2010 in a writer’s workshop. Today, I place one or more self-affirmations on the first page of my notebook for each month. Each day, I take a moment to read them aloud to myself. Another standard practice is to stand in front of a mirror and repeat your set of self-affirmations aloud three times each day.
Here are mine for July:
- I am still becoming who I am meant to be.
- I am free to feel what I need to feel.
- I am grateful for how far I have come.
- I am daring to dream of what could be.
You don’t have to come up with these on your own. I didn’t. I searched “positive affirmations” that felt right for the time.
TECHNIQUE 5: Determine what solutions are available to you.
When faced with adversity, it is important to look at what possible solutions are available to you. Are you struggling to make ends meet? Where can you turn for financial help? Do you feel like you are spiraling into depression? Who can you call or do you need to find a therapist? Do you feel alone? Who can you call to join you for dinner? Do you feel stuck where you are in life? If so, what can you do to change your life?
What about you?
Whatever you do, don’t let those adversities get you down. Do what you can to rise like the Phoenix, stronger and more beautiful than before.
Please take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Until next time . . .
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