Blessings in Disguise, or Thank You I Think

I recently came across an old gratitude journal I started but never finished. I enjoyed reading it because it was so positive and uplifting.  Since I never completed the journal I began making entries again to continue the practice of reflecting on and documenting those things for which I am grateful.  As I reflected on blessings from the past and contemplated current blessings it occurred to me that there is a category of blessing that I don’t always acknowledge but that I want to explore.

Blessings in disguise are those events and circumstances both major and minor that show up in the form of challenges, disappointments, or obstacles that have a hidden lesson or opportunity buried in them.

There are three categories of Blessings in Disguise that come to mind.

Loss – While painful, the experience of loss can teach you about what is truly important.  Loss can help you recognize the value of what has been lost as well as the value of what you are left with.  It is sometimes through the loss of a relationship, possession, or circumstance that you learn to appreciate those things you normally take for granted.  Something as simple for example as the breath…You don’t usually think about the value of being able to breathe effortlessly until you catch a cold.  Don’t get me wrong.   The cold is not the blessing.  It is your awareness of the joy of breathing freely, without obstacle or effort, that is the blessing.

I’ve learned from experience that if you embrace loss and open to it instead of resisting it, loss can take you deeper into your heart.  I was 30 years old when my mother died.  Losing her was painful and I missed her terribly for many years.  But over time, missing her morphed into beautiful, wonderful memories of her that continue to fill my heart with great joy.  I do wish at times that she was still with me physically, but blessedly I have discovered that she is always with me in my heart.  As the years go by I love her more than ever and for this I am grateful.

Loss can also open you to the blessing of possibility, as it did for three war veterans; one Vietnam war veteran; one veteran of the Iraq war; and one veteran of the Afghanistan war.  Two of the veterans lost both their legs in combat, and one lost one of his legs.  In spite of their significant loss, in April 2010 the three of them together  successfully climbed 19,336 feet to the highest peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya.  To paraphrase them, no matter what loss you have experienced, you can still accept challenge, which opens you to the blessing of possibility.


Betrayal – Whenever I have felt betrayed, and blessedly it has not been often, it has given me the opportunity to practice forgiveness – not easy.  Forgiveness is a powerful practice that strengthens you and frees you from the past, enabling you to get on with your life joyfully.  It allows you to move beyond the hurt of betrayal.  I have been lied to, cheated on, and mistreated by people I love, trust, and feel close to.  It is always a surprise when it happens and it always hurts.  Ironically, each time I experience a betrayal it strengthens my ability to trust my own instincts, intuitions, and perceptions.  It reminds me that I am strong even in my vulnerability.  Betrayal has always taught me to be true to myself – a lesson my father frequently taught.  He loved to quote Polonius’s advice to his son – “…and above all else to thine own self be true.”  Betrayal invites you into your own heart and into forgiveness of yourself and others.  The blessing of betrayal can set you free.

Disillusionment – To be disillusioned is very difficult because it challenges your belief system.  It is the recognition that all is not as it seems.  At first this can be disorienting and can result in a temporary state of anxiety and-or depression.  But if you go deeper, beyond the anxiety and depression, you can realize its gifts. Consider this: The characters in The Wizard of Oz invested extraordinary powers in an unknown, unseen source.  They believed that they were powerless to manifest their deepest desires without those desires being gifted to them by Oz.  To their amazement, once they discovered that the Wizard of Oz was a figment of their imagination, they realized they already possessed what they had been seeking outside  themselves.  The gift of disillusionment brought clarity and empowerment to the Tin Man by revealing to him that he already had a heart; to the Scarecrow by showing him that he already had a brain; and to the Cowardly Lion by showing him that he already had courage.  The gift of disillusionment can help you see that you already are who you are trying to become – you just need to believe it to see it.  Disillusionment can help you believe in your own gifts and power.

So when you encounter loss, betrayal, or disillusionment, consider that they may actually be blessings in disguise.  When you are in the midst of any of these experiences, it’s hard to perceive them as blessings – much less express gratitude for the gifts they bring.

  • Just try to remember, through loss you can realize that the person who leaves you lives on in your heart.  The cherished object you lose can teach you the valuable lesson of letting go or of non-attachment. You can make room for something new.  The loss of a physical ability, financial stability, or even your home can teach you that the world has not come to an end and that you have the inner resources and resilience to bounce back to meet the challenge you face.
  • Through betrayal you can move from trusting others to trusting yourself.  As painful as betrayal can be it can teach you the power of forgiveness and the joy of freedom.
  • Through disillusionment you are able to see with more clarity.  You can see reality as it is not as you want it to be.  In The Wizard of Oz, disillusionment taught the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow to believe in themselves – they already had everything they needed.

The Universe in its infinite wisdom has a way of providing you with opportunities for soul growth through life lessons.  Every day it provides you with opportunities to become more loving, patient, and kind, and to rid yourself of anger, jealousy, and negativity.  Sometimes, because you may be slow to get the message, the lesson may show up over and over again until you get the point, like in the movie Ground Hog Day.

It may take years for you to figure out what the lesson in the hardship is much less what it has to offer.  But even if the lesson eludes you, you still want to look for it.  You may not choose the hardships you experience.  But the way you engage hardship or challenge is always a matter of choice.

If you’re not quite ready to say “Thank You” for the hidden blessings to be found in loss, betrayal, or disillusionment maybe you can start with “Thank you, I think.”



23 responses to “Blessings in Disguise, or Thank You I Think

  1. As usual you touch my heart in so many ways and help me keep the gratitude in my heart for all the work we did. It’s no coincidence that I watched the wizard of oz yesterday. I read this right when I needed to as I prepare to return to work after 10 days off. I was beginning to dread it but a thought came to me to check your blog. Right on time!!!

    • It is sometimes difficult to remember our blessings especially when they come disguised. I’m so happy to know you found the wisdom relevant and helpful.

  2. I’m glad to know you experience the post as relevant. Thank you for sharing.

  3. It is amazing to me how each month your topic touches me. As if it were written just for me! Thank you for your insightfulness.

    Pauline J. Furman

  4. I consider myself a thakful person. I attempt to take the lemons that life sometimes gives to me and make lemonade. It’s in the ‘aid’ process that transforming the lemons, because of loss, betrayl, and/or disillusionment, becomes challenging. The challenge is linked to FEAR; False Evidence Appearing Real!

    Your words of wisdom speak of faith. Faith in the transformation process, of turning lemons into lemonade, made possible by having an attitude of gratitude. Thank you for giving the words to describe
    3 elements of life that can produce the bitter sweet blessings thanksgiving.

    In thankful reflection

  5. Glad you got it. The challenge or obstacle itself is usually not the blessing. It’s the growth that comes from the way we engage loss, betrayal, or disillusionment that is the blessing. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jason Parker Johnson

    I love clarification you made when you wrote “The cold is not the blessing. It is your awareness of the joy of breathing freely, without obstacle or effort, that is the blessing.” That is a seemingly small but powerful realization.

  7. Blessings do come in different forms and disguises. Thank you for reminding me that through the power of positive thinking and recognizing the different forms of blessings that we all recieve, it is possible to eventually overcome loss, betrayal, and disillusionment. You are spot Gail.

    • Just remember that you are a blessing in the lives of so many people you touch with your kind heart and warm generous spirit. The blessings you offer do not come in disguised form. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I think that betrayal can be a “tipping point.” When one experiences betrayal, it can lead to loss and disillusionment. Sort of a “three-fer” — it can be overwhelming, but the Universe has a way of walloping you over the head when the time is right. Indeed, the opportunity for growth is there, like you say.

  9. There are always more possibilities than we can imagine, and as you have so wisely observed, forgiveness is a process not an outcome. Thanks for letting me be your blessing in disguise, and thanks for sharing.

  10. Your comment,”You may not choose the hardships you experience. But the way you engage hardship or challenge is always a matter of choice.” My choice was working with you and it took me years to consider the experience a blessing, but thanks to you my life did open up to possibiities I would never have thought possible. The simple act of reading your blog and knowing what you where sharing is true – wouldn’t have been possible when I first met you.

    As for forgiveness – just when I think you have done it,I learned it has to be ungoing.

    Thank you for making it possible for me to read your blog and get excited about more possibilities instead of wallowing in pain.

  11. My dear friend, Thank you so much for this. Like Ellena, I was meant to read this today as I struggled to prepare for the Support Group next Thursday of my cancer patients. We have talked over this, around this, and under this many times in that little safe haven of a room where we meet. But it is now time to go through it. With your permission, Gail, I will print this off and sashay in there ready to begin a scintillating discussion, no doubt. Be at peace. With gentle love, Cheryl

    • It would be an honor for you to share this with your patients. Let us know how the discussion proceeds if you can do so without violating confidentiality. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Thank you Gail. Something told me I should read your blog exactly at this moment. And it was the perfect message for me. xo.

  13. This was so relevant! Loss, betrayal and disillusionment have all made “guest appearances” in my life recently. This quote: “Loss can also open you to the blessing of possibility,” is so powerful! It also helps me to remember that the way we (I) internalize and deal with loss, betrayal, disillusionment, etc. can come from a completely different place if I remember that all of these experiences offer lessons and can indeed be blessings in disguise. Thank you!!

  14. This post was painful for me to read, but the awareness of the pain (of my pain) while reading it, IS a blessing. Thank you for your choice of words, your examples, and for sharing your own pain and growth. Helpful!!

    • It doesn’t always feel like a blessing but pain can be a wonderful teacher. The ability to share it with others can create deep connection and that is always a blessing. Thank you for sharing.

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