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5 Lessons Learned from Losing Everything

ghostly image of man walking down railroad tracks feeling as if he has lost everything

Imagine this…

One day, you feel like you have it all. You have a great job, great house, family, friends, you’re healthy and loving your life. You feel like you’re on top of the world.

It’s awesome. In fact, you’re feeling so comfortable, you start to take it for granted. You feel like nothing could ever take this away from you.

But then it happens. Life decides to body slam you and you lose everything.

It happened to many of us during the financial crisis of 2008.

Thoughts of being indestructible painfully fade away. They are sadly replaced with fear and confusion. Why did this happen? How could this happen? This is impossible.

The great recession of 2008–2016 was very difficult for almost everyone I knew. A real wake up call. The biggest club was the one I was in. The one called complete financial annihilation.

How I Lost Everything I Worked for All My Life

I lost my business, home, and retirement. 30 years of busting butt shot to hell. How would I take care of my wife and four children? Where would we live? What would we eat?

It sucked! I went from 30 years in construction as a contractor to begging everyone I knew for any work they had. Everyone was counting their pennies. Jobs were paying next to nothing. I might as well have made a sign saying “Will work for food”.

I worked day and night for two, maybe three years. Next, the Red Cross dropped a bombshell. They could no longer accept my blood donation because my vitals were indicating an impending heart attack. Nice. Right?

Oh, and the icing on the cake, I was rear ended in a traffic accident destroying my back. Extensive reconstructive surgery stabilized my back. However, I was left with residual pain issues, nerve damage, and partial paralysis in my legs and feet.

Talk about your road bumps. There I was sitting in the middle of life and all the wheels had fallen off. I was broke, out of work, basically homeless, and could barely walk. Now what? Everything I knew was no longer working. All the stuff I associated with my sense of self was gone. Yet, I was still here.

I was still here?

That realization changed my life forever. The following will do the same for you.

#1 We never really lose anything;

The first hurdle is the feeling of loss. It reminds us of other times when something we greatly valued was stolen or lost. The feeling is as if a part of us is dying.

Well, part of us is dying. A false sense of self is dying. The part falsely identified with the object. The proof? When the object is gone, we are still here. Therefore, any delusion of our self as part of the object is false.

I lived with my wife in that house. We raised our four sons in that house. There are a lot of memories. Memories that still exist. None have changed in any way, or been stolen, nor lost.

All those moments still exist exactly as they always have. We have moved on. Now we are in this moment. And in this moment, we no longer live in that house.

Whether we are talking about a house, a job, a business, a relationship, or even our mind-body, this truth rings true. Nothing in the physical world has anything to do with who we are. And nothing in the physical world remains the same. Hence, nothing is lost.

Life is forever in a state of change. Moment to moment there is change. However, we exist as a constant in our life. Material stuff is only there to support the life going on in that moment. But in no moment is material stuff life.

#2 Life happens through us, not to us;

Contrary to what seems to be, life is not a series of events happening to us. In fact, we attract people and events into our life.

Our level of consciousness has a corresponding energetic field. This field influences everything and everyone around us. It can be more negative or positive depending on our mindset.

In this way we have an input into all that happens. Call it karma, accountability, or just plain consequence. But our thoughts influence our world.

This is not to say we have total control. Our field influences. Everyone has a field that influences. After that, whatever happens is what happens.

However, where we are, what we are doing, and who we are associating with in any moment, is entirely up to us.

What we believe determines our thoughts. Our thoughts determine our actions. And our actions have consequences.

Furthermore, we control how we react. Our reactions have a tremendous influence on our health, our life, and our world.

There is what happens. But more importantly, there is how we react to what happens. Understanding this, changes everything.

Simply, our outer world reflects our inner world.

#3 Resistance is futile;

Resistance is fear. Think of a negative emotion. It is a manifestation of fear. For example, resentment, anger, and anxiety are all forms of resistance based in fear. Fear causes stress and mayhem.

Resistance is futile because it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Resistance will create the very thing we wish to avoid. When we resist something, we put more energy into it. What we put our energy into, we create more of.

The only way to avoid putting more energy into something is acceptance. Not in surrender as in defeat, but in understanding. Allowing what is, to be, rather than resisting it.

Whether we like it or not is irrelevant. Fairness, right and wrong, have absolutely nothing to do with it. We either accept what is or deny what is. But what is, is.

Judgement of the present is resistance to the present. Resistance and denial not only continue, but expand our suffering.

This does not mean we should embrace or participate in things that are not for the greater good. Only that we acknowledge their existence.

Once we acknowledge and accept what is, we are free. We no longer carry around the emotional baggage of the past or future. This moment then becomes all it can be, because we bring a higher version of ourselves to this moment.

Memories are not life. They are reflections of moments in life. This moment is life.

We can generate a lot of pain in this moment by resisting it. Or, we can move into this moment.

#4 Bad things happen for a good reason;

We like to think we attract what we want. We actually attract what we are. And what we are determines what we need.

What we need is the opportunity to become what we can be. The universe accommodates accordingly.

The universe will knock on the door. Will you answer? Too often I was busy trying to force reality to conform. In these cases, the universe will knock louder. And louder. In my case this didn’t work either. So, the universe kicked in the door!

If we fail to learn the lessons in life, they will be repeated until we do.

Sometimes rock bottom is necessary. I lost everything. My home, business, savings and retirement. What I had was an impending heart attack, partial paralysis, and a marriage on the rocks. Finally, the universe had my attention.

Needless to say, I was out of balance. So, how did I find balance?

#5 Life’s greatest blessings come in disguise;

I’ve practiced martial arts for over 20 years. During the financial crisis, I stopped training, competing, and teaching to try saving everything. I saved nothing.

I was out of balance in every way possible, and it showed. Again, our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. The first step is to own it.

Once we accept responsibility for our life, we can do something about it.

Knowing exactly how is not necessary. Do we ever know anything before we know it?

A good place to start is where we are.

All the stuff I associated with my sense of self was gone. Yet, I was still here. So, who am I?

Since I’m not of the physical, then I must be of the spiritual. And so are you!

I had exhausted physical guidance. So, perhaps seeking spiritual guidance was the answer.

But how exactly do we access the spiritual?

Well, we are in the physical world. The spiritual world is not of the physical world. However, we are of the spiritual, therefore, it must be within. Yes, I took a journey deep inside.

Martial arts had introduced me to meditation. So, meditate I did.

Proper meditation brings a state of relaxation to the mind-body. Stillness. Clarity.

Briefly here are 7 of the results:

1 I never had that heart attack.

2 – I have a new business I can do with my disabilities and make plenty of money.

3 – We own a house on 30 peaceful acres with beautiful views in the desert. Yes, no mortgage!

4 – My wife and I fell in love all over again and have never been happier.

5 – I can practice Tai Chi with my disabilities. It has helped with healing.

6 – I have healed far beyond what the experts said was possible.

7 – Now I teach others to do the same.

It was not easy. It took some time. And I would not change a thing. If it were not for everything that happened, I would not be where I am today.

Today I am blessed.

We can believe or we can refuse to believe. Either way, the results speak for themselves.

When We Change The Way We Think About Things, Things Change

Life has a way of throwing lessons at us. We all go through stuff. Sometimes it is very painful. We may feel as though we have lost everything, or even that life is over. It isn’t. This is life.

We never really lose anything. Each moment is forever what it is. However, life is fluid and constantly in a state of change.

We can’t possibly know what we don’t know. So, the best we can do is adapt to the seasons of life. To learn the lessons presented to us and move on to something bigger and better.

When we accept each moment as it is, we are freed. And each new moment can blossom into its fullness. It becomes about what is happening, rather than what has happened, or might happen.

Resistance is futile. By letting go of the past and future, we make room for the present.

Life only happens in this moment. When we live in this moment, we feel at peace. This alone is worth it.

The magic is an extra. Bad things happen for a good reason. They are the opportunities we need to become who we will become. That is the blessing in disguise.

Furthermore, once we become someone better, we attract something better. All the material stuff naturally follows.

We can then truly appreciate it. Not because of the physical value, but as evidence of grace.

About Howard Mann

Creator of Conscious Shifting. Instructor of Awareness, Meditation, and Tai Chi

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