3 Powerful Lessons I Learned from A Simple Word

3 lessons from a simple wordI was in bad shape in January 2009.

My mother’s death at age 68 plunged me into an ocean of grief. I could barely see the shore.

Here’s what I told myself over and over.

Life from here on is unending sorrow.

I’ll never recover from this.

I can’t bear this pain.

This is simply not fair.

At the time I didn’t have Allison Carmen’s book The Gift of Maybe: Finding Hope and Possibility in Uncertain TimesNot that it would have made much sense to me back then.

Today it does and I can offer 3 powerful lessons I learned from a simple 2-syllable word: Maybe.

At first, your reaction may be Whaat??!!

How can Maybe make me feel better?

Stay with me, please.

Here’s what I learned when I turned the last page.

Maybe is a philosophy.

Maybe is a calming mantra.

Maybe offers us a soft landing.

1. “Maybe” relaxes the grip on certainty. As a species, we’re taught to value certainty. We want to know, be sure, and have predictable outcomes. Life offers none of these–especially when loss rocks our world. By inviting Maybe to open a new door, we become more willing to befriend uncertainty. e.g. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. Maybe I can be grateful for every blessing that’s right here.

2. “Maybe” makes room for hope. When we cling to the doom and gloom of a bleak future, we have no energy, no hope. Maybe gives us hope to take the next baby step toward wellness. It lets us invest in the possibility that hope can move in and start to shift things. e.g. Maybe my heart will grow lighter. Maybe there are lessons here that I don’t see yet.

3. “Maybe” brings us home to the present. When we’re grieving a loss–whether it is the death of a loved one, a divorce or a friendship gone sour, we build a house in The Past and begin to live there. Change, however, can only happen in this moment. A new decision, a fresh choice, a recent discovery. e.g. Maybe I need to create a ritual to let this go. Maybe I can find someone to support me through this loss.

It’s a small word. But it can help us make big changes. Maybe is about welcoming possibility, experimenting with new perspectives and playing with positive What Ifs.

As Carmen sums up: “…the playing field is unlimited, but the possibilities in the field have changed.”

Share this post. Maybe someone out there needs to read it.

Originally posted June 18, 2015.

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