I don’t know about you, but I grew up sort of thinking of life in linear stages, having a beginning point, an ending point, and certain destination spots along the way. This view did not allow for any second chances or replays, because, from my early perspective, decisions were concrete and inflexible, allowing only one shot to get it right. If you blew your one chance, then all was lost. While it is true that our lives progress through linear stages from birth to death, I have since learned to recognize and appreciate that there is a circular developmental stage that occurs as well. Throughout the course of our lives and through different circumstances, the opportunity to make different decisions is a reoccurring factor. By learning from past decisions and recognizing when second chance moments occur, an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth is possible.
An Example of a Second Chance Moment
On a typical summer day, Dianne was about to cross the street with her two young sons when a car swerved onto the sidewalk, killing her oldest child. For years after the accident, Dianne could not speak the name of her dead son. She relinquished the primary responsibility of caring for her surviving child – who was just six years old at the time – to her mother. Dianne found her escape through drug use and relied so entirely on her mother to care for her still living son that when she finally awoke from her “grief stricken coma,” her son was an adult who she hardly knew. Their relationship was complicated. He felt abandoned. She felt guilt. They both felt misunderstood by the other. They had not worked through the stages of grief and had never discussed the accident together. What happened next shows how the circular developmental stages of life coincide with the linear stages of life.
At the age of 35, Dianne’s son was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Eventually he became too sick to care for himself. He could no longer live alone in his own apartment. Dianne’s mother had basically raised him, but she had died three years prior to his diagnosis. Dianne recognized what was happening – that she had an opportunity to take care of her son in a way that she could not do when he was a child. She welcomed her son into her home and went to doctor visits with him. She stayed with him on the nights when he was in too much pain to sleep. With each passing day, Dianne could feel the parts of herself that she thought had died with her oldest son come alive again. She was freeing herself from years of guilt and slowly rebuilding her connection to spirit. The healing was not hers alone because her son too was healing. Years of resentment had developed into pronounced abandonment issues. At times, it was almost like he was six again. He tested his mother in various ways to see if she would continue to be there for him. This experience was trying for both of them, but in the end, great progress was made and they were finally able to move forward.
4 Ways to Recognize Your Second Chance Opportunity
Naturally, everyone’s second chance opportunity will be different because the lessons that we are born to learn are different. Here are some hints to get you going:
1. Usually, when heavy emotions are experienced in connection to a pivotal moment in time, similar to Dianne and her son, then it is likely that a second chance opportunity is present.
2. Sometimes, simply recognizing that the decisions you make at any given moment are okay can be a breath of fresh air. Have you ever heard the phrase “When you know better, you do better?” You would be wise to use that phrase at certain times in your life. Beating yourself up over past actions will only lead to guilt.
3. The act of doing something for another person without any expectation of material compensation puts into motion the premise of circular thinking. As such, you draw yourself to positive experiences.
4. Where does your anger come from? I use the word anger loosely because you can replace it with any supercharged emotion. Feelings of jealousy, selfishness, or negative attention-seeking behaviors are clues that life is presenting a second chance opportunity for you.
By applying a circular worldview to your life, you accept that decisions and circumstances are recycled and reproduced. This creates an opportunity to make better or different choices for the purpose of spiritual growth. To err is human, and to realize when your second chance opportunities arise is consciously human.
© 2012, Martha Dawson. All rights reserved.