5 Beliefs that Frustrate your Progress when misfortune hits

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When bad luck hits you and your culture has an incriminating explanation for it, your shock stage of grieving can be long and lonely. Such was the case when my son was diagnosed with autism. I expected empathy but someone righteous finally spoke for many. She asked me what sins I needed to repent of. Sins that made my son mentally ill. Ouch!

1.The belief that it only happens to others: It is interesting that before we have become ‘those people’ who are going through a lasting diagnosis, we tend to find reason to point fingers or casually or carelessly comment without empathy. Jacinta had spent years blaming her neighbor John for his runaway son, until her own ‘well behaved’ son, driving under the influence, caused a road accident that killed two and permanently disabled a teenager. Ordinarily, the likes of Jacinta would stay in denial and disbelief for longer than usual when a misfortune hits them, but our Jacinta became a changed woman, quickly. She understood the pain of another as soon as her’s hit. She apologised to John. This helped Jacinta to grieve her own loss more effectively. And, guess who came to her aide? John. Jacinta was easier on herself. She sought help and got it.

Why should you care about your cultural beliefs?

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, CULTURE refers to “… the general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular time.” In this blog post, I want to dwell on the ‘beliefs’ part of culture and effects of a fixed belief mindset on our lives as well as those of others.

While Cultures and Subcultures are important in providing structure and a sense of belonging, aspects of a culture can promote self-defeating beliefs that prevent us from reaching our goals or being effective in our duties. One’s upbringing – usually based in cultural beliefs for the most part – may engrain behaviours that could prevent certain members from living a life true to their core, succumbing to cultural pressure.

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2. The belief that you cannot succeed as a single parent… and why are you single in the first place? Rather than uplift and encourage me to settle well and succeed now that I’m a single parent, there are people who pity me for being one, and even try to dampen my spirit, insinuating that I’m doomed to fail. It should be noted that there are many single parents (single by choice e.g. never married or by chance e.g widowed) who have succeeded in life. They grieved the loss/lack of a partner and then answered the question “now what?,” sealing it with action. Gazelle-intense action. As a result, they have seen the fruits of their labor. And… yes, you too can!

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3. The Belief that illness stems from sin. … While there are others who dwell on explaining what I must have done to lose a husband, others work hard to ‘connect the dots’ between what sins I must have committed to deserve a special needs son! Their explanations range from silly to seriously unkind, sometimes even vengeful.

Speaking of having a special needs child – it is like planning to go in a direction of your choice and finding yourself elsewhere on arrival! Sometimes the detour occurs along one’s life journey (as in the case of a life changing road accident) and sometimes it happens right at the beginning of life (as illustrated below in #4 – Emily Kingsley’s essay titled “Welcome to Holland”):

4. The belief that one child isn’t as awesome as another.

Kingsley describes how expectant parents (of one who will be born disabled), prepare to welcome and cherish their baby. Just like their friends would have done, they have envisioned the ‘great joy ahead.’ Excitement is in the air. She likens this to preparing for a journey to Italy only to find out on the day of fruition that you have landed in Holland!

“The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

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In shock, you come to realize that you now have a special needs child and he is yours to keep. “The important thing is that … [who you have for a child isn’t horrible] It’s just a different place” to be. “…there’s been a change in the flight plan. You must learn new ways that you had not anticipated, to deal with a situation you had not prepared for. You have to learn the language of caregiving and meet different people you might not have met had you not had a special needs child. The excitement you have is a different one. With time, you catch on and begin to appreciate who you have. He is different, yes. And he has essence – yes and yes. So, yes, you begin to enjoy the blessing.

“But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” The pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.” – (Kingsley, 1987)

5. The belief that life is impossible in the presence of lasting diagnosis: No, it isn’t. We are too resilient, too potent to succumb, especially because God has our backs. Just ask those who have been to hell and back and you will believe in your own ability to tow your own line to success and happiness, despite challenges. There is provision for your vision. You must have the vision  though, and seal it with gazelle intensity action. It will all align, in due time. Stay focused.

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Q. What would you do if hit with a lasting misfortune?

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And … No, you wouldn’t want to miss my Next Blog Post, would you?

Of course not! In the next blog, let’s continue on to part 3 of the blossom series (Cultures that frustrate our progress). To your success and True Happiness….


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