Can events happen that are out of our control? How do smart people deal with the unexpected of life? What is the impact of labels on our lives?
The Beauty, Certainty and Uncertainty of Life
As a young girl growing up Agnes had dreams, hopes and expectations of meeting the right man that she would experience true love with; that she would get married to, that she would start a family with and have children. Fortunately for her, she met John Asu. He was exactly the type of man she had dreamed of meeting. She had met the love of her life and she was a happy girl. With the blessings of their families, they got married and for the next twenty something years of a loving family life, they had a total of ten children. Life seemed to have turned out the way she had planned since most of her life’s wishes: finding the love of her life, getting married and having amazing children became a reality. Have you ever been in a situation in which you thought you have it all figured out? She was certain she had her life all figured out since things have worked accordingly. Then the unplanned, the unprepared, and the unexpected suddenly happened. Her beloved husband became ill, then passed within a year.
How People with Common Sense Deal with Personal Loss: Turn Loss into a Gift
What is it that people with common sense do and how do they respond when the unexpected happens? My mother was completely devastated and for the first time in her life she was filled with fear and uncertainty about her life, about her children’s future and how she was going to live life without her beloved. She’s now left with ten children and five of them were under the age of ten. She lived in an African village, she had zero school education, and there are no jobs and no social or government support system. She’s on her own.
We can’t control the events of life, we can’t control when a loved one will pass, we can’t control when a partner or someone we are in a relationship with walked out of the relationship. But we can control what we focus on when something happens, we can control the meaning we generate in our minds and assign to the events and most important we can control our responds to these and other events of life.This is what she decided to do. Instead of spending her time wallowing in grief and blaming God, blaming life, blaming death and feeling sorry for herself, feeling sorry for her children and wasting her herself in the things she has no control over, this smart and extraordinary woman decided to focus on the things has total control over. She overcame her grief and deep personal loss by making up her mind to look for an empowering meaning in her husband’s passing, and to turn the deep pain in her heart and the tears in her eyes into an inspiring gift. This was accomplished by changing her thoughts and changing beliefs of the event and the meaning she associated to his death. By changing the meaning, her sadness that had weakened her was immediately replaced by a new sense of power, a new attitude and a new will.
She decided to focus her attention do whatever it takes to raise and care for her children with love and to provide them with the necessary education which might give them a better quality life and a better future than she had. She made it to to find and live her life’s purpose by committing all her energy in making sure these most precious of life’s treasures (her children) that God blessed her with will grow up as whole, happy, complete, loving, responsible and contributing men and women. She decided this was going to be her life’s purpose. With this new decision and commitment, she found a new mission, a new purpose to support, to empower and inspire them to grow up with confidence that they can be and do anything. And that their father’s passing is not and will never going to a barrier to any of them in any way, shape or form, but a gift that life has given them. It is a gift that’s meant to make their lives better.
“Single Mother” is not a Universal Word – It’s North Almost a American Thing
The most interesting part of this story is that she did it all without ever calling or describing herself as a single mother. Why didn’t she? Because in the Boki culture in the South West Region of Cameroon where she lived, there is no linguistic representation or word for a “single mother” as is derogatorily coined and used daily by social welfare programs, charity organisations, marketers and the media in North America to label, judge and stigmatize women raising children without the presence of a male partner.
The Impact of Labels on People’s Lives
Remember that labels create beliefs and beliefs create identity. And the moment we label or define anyone a certain way we start to perceive and treat them that way. By labeling and calling any woman with a child or children whose partner had passed naturally or by accident, who had divorced her partner because of abuse or the relationship ended because of lack of love or had a child with a man that didn’t want to stick around to take the full responsibility of a father, we conditioned this group of exceptional super women and their children to believe and feel they must have done something terribly wrong in life and therefore something is also terribly wrong with them as individuals
We can’t control the events of life, but we have total control over the labels we we assign to events and the labels we allow others to give us. We have complete control over the meaning we attached to the events and how we respond to the events of life. Agnes Asu, my mother couldn’t control what happened to her and her children, but she chose to control her own psychology of meaning and responded in a way that empowered and strengthened her, and therefore her ability to care, to love, to provide and inspire her children to be all they can be. I am extremely proud to be raised by such an extraordinary woman.
She had no traditional education, but she was smart, she has wisdom and an extraordinary psychology.
Change your beliefs and your life will also change.
Change the negative meaning you associate to events, situations and people and your will experience a radical change in your life. Our lives are controlled by meaning.
So in life it’s not what happens, but it’s what we do with what happened that defines our lives.
“Don’t let other’s opinion of you becomes your opinion of yourself.” – Collin Powell, Former US Military General and Secretary of State
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