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Delving deeper into later-revealed signficance of events

November 9, 2008
By MATTHEW GOODEMOTE, For The Leader-Herald

I appreciate everyone out there who told me how much they enjoyed my last article.

Believe me, it means a lot to me to hear such kind words and it amazes me to realize how many people out there read my columns.

Thank you all so much.

I would like to delve a little deeper into the concept of not really knowing the significance of an event until down the road when the dust has settled.

More and more now I anticipate that every event is exactly what I need in my life for me to learn a little more about myself and how to keep my peace.

I realize that there are times when it is hard to understand the significance of an event, especially while we are fully immersed in the mess.

When I look back on life, I am amazed at how perfectly timed each event was in my life.

I have also had plenty of experiences where my determination to have things "my" way have ended up in a giant mess.

Now I can see how when things didn't seem to be working out, they were in fact molding me to handle a more significant event in my life for which I would not have been ready without the first trial.

So what I initially perceived as "not working out" turned out to be perfect and worked out just fine.

Today I was talking to a friend who is struggling with a new job.

She is experiencing verbal attacks that have affected her ability to keep her peace.

In the middle of her storm, it may be hard to see that this is exactly what she needs to grow and become what she was born to be.

This experience is an opportunity to be molded. I told her this is an opportunity to look at how she reacts to people and why someone else's words cause so much stress in her life.

We can't know for sure why someone is being mean to us and quite frankly, trying to figure it out only puts us in the position of reliving the anguish/stress over and over again.

Why do we focus on what few things are wrong instead of noticing all the things around us that we have been blessed with?

More than that, why do we consider the unpleasant moments any less valuable or important than the pleasant moments?

Remember that the unpleasant events are how we learn what we want and what we don't want. For example, I learned through my former bosses how I wanted to be treated and do my best to treat my employees that way.

I learned a long time ago that grumpy patients may be grumpy because they hurt or because they are stressed out.

They may have heard some bad news about a loved one, or something else may have affected their mood. The point is it is not personal.

Even when a patient is confrontational, I recognize that it is their own personal problem they are dealing with and it has nothing to do with me.

If I did do something, it is simple to confess what I did and tell them I am sorry.

How they handle it from there is their business.

Take a minute right now and see where your focus is. Are you noticing the good that surrounds you or the not-so-good?

And how can you be certain that the not-so-good is really "not so good?"

When I ask you to do this I mean not only with all aspects of Wellness, but also in the other areas of your life. Are you remembering an event that happened years ago, that "happened" but is not "happen ing" right now?

A patient last week was telling me about how angry she was at her boss because he forgot to clean up after himself, and she slipped, injuring her knee.

I mentioned finding the gift in the "bad" event. She said "Oh yeah, I should be thinking positive thoughts."

But that is not really what I mean.

Pretending an event is good doesn't work if we really think it's bad.

What I mean is why do we call it bad?

How can we know for certain something is "bad" until the thing is looked at from a place somewhere in the future?

The best we can know right now is "maybe." Can we find the gift "from" the event?

The event itself may not be the gift, in fact the event may only be part of a series of clues that helps us see the gift in the situation, and it may take a long time to understand this.

Take the leap of faith and see if you can try and just experience the event without labeling it.

For me, just recently, feeling poorly physically was a great test of this concept.

I certainly did not like how I felt, but I also did not try and pretend I did like it. In fact what I did was stop the rest of my day and try my best to take care of myself to end the feeling.

As I started feeling better I began looking at how I handled it.

I looked for the lessons, I questioned my expectations and found out a couple of things:

I like feeling good.

Exercise helps my mind, body and soul.

Proper nutrition is easier on me than getting sick because of bad food choices.

Proper rest is better than the World Series of Poker every time

I have great people around me who want me to be well.

This includes my staff, my patients and my family. The concern people show for me is remarkable I am truly blessed.

The "bad" feelings or thoughts we have become wonderful treasures when we take the time to see them in a different light.

Physical limitations are our body's way of slowing us down or stopping us to give us time to evaluate where we are headed in life.

The stressful emotions are alarm clocks to help wake us up to evaluate where we are heading in our lives.

If we keep finding difficulties, it is likely because we are still repeating the same mistakes again and again.

Finding our peace is the main priority.

When we lose our peace we are given the stressful feelings to remind us to find our peace again.

I ask my staff to find their peace before dealing with someone who is grumpy. I mention repeatedly that we all get grumpy.

I mention that we can't know for sure why someone is mean to us.

Maybe they have heard bad news, maybe they are in pain, or maybe no one has really listened to them before.

Maybe we will never know why they are grumpy and it doesn't really matter anyway.

What matters is that we individually find peace.We start with ourselves and find out why what someone else says or does bothers us.

We can also apply this toward our own lives.

When I was not feeling well, my mind focused on that alone. It took a lot of my time and energy to realize that I am still blessed and that my life is good. In fact, the brief period where I felt poorly helped me appreciate that much more how fortunate I am to be healthy, after the fact.

I know some of you out there are thinking, "Well, I hurt all the time and I am not blessed or fortunate." Some people have a hard time seeing how feeling so bad could be a good thing. This reminds me of my friend whose feet hurt when he stepped on them in the morning. It wasn't until his back started hurting that he realized what pain really was.

Now I suggest to him that his back pain was a gift, remember it was far worse than his feet, but now he can appreciate that his feet aren't really that bad after all. In fact compared to his back his feet are great.

Focusing on the bad makes it hard to see what is good, or to appreciate how "not great" is better than lousy. It's all in the perspective.

Again, I am not asking or suggesting you pretend everything is OK if it's not. I am asking you to go a little deeper and explore how you can know for sure.

The best you can know right now is "maybe." And this opens you up to the possibility that a gift is coming out of this event.

There are no rules out there that say "thou shalt never have pain again" or "life will always be fun and easy."

The "bad" moments are there for us to appreciate what "good" we have around us.

They are for us to take notice; they stop us so we take the time to see for sure if we are doing what we were born to do.

They give us the perspective so we do remember what really matters. Loss reminds us to be with loved ones more. Injury reminds us how precious simple daily activities are, like walking, reaching overhead, sleeping etc.

When something unfortunate happens, remember we can't know for sure it is good or bad, the most we can know is that the specific event "may be good or it may be bad."

The event itself is not as important as the gift we received from it.

Matthew Goodemote, a Gloversville native, owns Community Physical Therapy & Wellness. His Health & Wellness column will answer your questions and discuss topics that are relevant to your everyday way of life. If you would like to ask a question, e-mail Matthew at



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