It can be extremely hard to keep going when bad things happen in our life. When things go really wrong it’s easy to find ourselves simply giving up, or severely demotivated, even consumed with anger and a feeling of injustice. We can spend a great amount of time obsessing over how unfair it is that it happened ‘to’ us, and even use it as an excuse – an excuse for not trying in life, hiding ourselves away, or avoiding any further potential discomfort i.e., seeking an escape. And we wouldn’t be wrong to find ourselves doing any of those things, not at all. They are in some ways very justified and absolutely understandable. But I’ve been fortunate enough to learn (or choose to believe, you could say) one small statement so profound that it changed my life, and I hope it might just help you as well. This single concept has the power to shift our perspective to such a great extent that we can’t help but react in entirely different ways when we face hardship.
So, what is it? Things don’t happen to you; they happen for you. Now, your first reaction to this statement may be pure anger. The suggestion that terrible things are somehow things we should be grateful for can make our insides almost burn in revolt. But allow me to explain a little more.
The greatest people to have walked this Earth never came from an easy life full of comfort and approval. In fact, if we take a look, often it’s quite the contrary. We grow and evolve because of our pain, not in spite of it. We become stronger and more resilient because of each challenge. Each of us would not be the person we are today if we hadn’t experienced every event in our lives so far – both the good and the bad. And maybe you’re not the person you’d like to be right now, but this isn’t the end.
You see, there’ll almost certainly be a time after a painful event where we feel worse off as a result of it. Let’s call it the ‘dip’. This ‘dip’ could last minutes or it could last years, depending on how we let it affect us. However, I do believe that there is always the potential for us to end up a greater person, a stronger person, a person who has more to give to the world - after, and as a direct result of, facing adversity. And I also believe that if we shift our perspective to understand hardship as opportunity (not an easy opportunity, but an opportunity nonetheless), then the time period in which we experience the ‘dip’ will greatly reduce.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t, for example, take time to grieve after loss - grieving is a vital process and avoiding it can be hugely harmful to ourselves. But it is to say that you can find happiness again. Life certainly won’t ever be the same, but it can go on, we can find happiness, and we can grow in ways that we simply couldn’t if not for experiencing that loss. For example, we may become more compassionate towards others who are grieving. We may help them - not necessarily directly, but indirectly, purely by being someone they encounter who understands the process they’re going through. Sometimes we impact people in positive ways without realising, and sometimes that impact would never have occurred if we hadn’t experienced our own pain. And if we understand that, if we hold onto the belief that some good will come from the bad - even when all seems lost - then we hold onto hope, we hold onto strength, we hold onto the rope that can pull us out of the dip.
If you can begin to see that things don’t happen to you, they happen for you; then you learn to grow from pain, not crumble under it; you find the strength to overcome your biggest challenges rather than give up in the face of them. After going through my own experiences, I now believe we are each here on Earth to better ourselves and to learn great lessons, but how can we do that if we’re not confronted with obstacles?
Now, I would like to point out here that each person’s set of obstacles will be unique, but all of us face considerable challenges – whether we can see it from the outside or not. We can never judge how significant something is to someone else. Something that may seem small to us can be hugely challenging for another. The severity of their experience is not for us to judge; but to show compassion so that we may help in any ways that we can.
It might be helpful if I simplify the essence of this concept in an analogy. Let's take a group of athletes. To improve themselves they undergo training - but not just any training. In order to advance they must push their limits. They must put themselves through pain in order to become more fit. In fact, part of the process of stimulating muscle growth is to tear the muscle (induce ‘micro-tears’). In other words, you’ve got to do some damage to do some growth. Now, not all athletes will be undergoing the same type of training – each athlete will be progressing through specific types of training in order to gain specific outcomes. For example, at any one time, one athlete could be working to improve their general endurance, another may be focussing on their strength, another on their lung capacity… the list could go on. There will be a different formula of training optimal for each outcome – and further adaptations can be made to make it optimal for each individual. So there will be a range of workouts going on, from high intensity interval training (HIIT), to endurance training, to sprints, and so on. An athlete's precise programme will be chosen according to the individual and their variables i.e. their current level, their desired outcome, their available time, and their foreseen potential. Now, if we swap the idea of a particular training programme for a particular set of challenges presented over a lifetime; we can consider that each person’s set of challenges across their lifetime is assigned to them, chosen for them, because their coach - or life - deemed them fit to handle it and able to evolve because of it. You can consider their "coach" in this analogy to be anything you choose - maybe Source, Spirit, the universe, a God, life force, or even simply themselves. But the idea is that whatever or whomever it is knows they have the potential to push through and make it to the other side a greater being. Each obstacle or set-back or pain in their life was presented to them because they have the potential to take it on, to overcome it, and to advance because of it. So if you’re struggling right now, my message to you is that you have the potential to overcome. Whatever it is, you do have the strength. You may need team members to help you or you may progress on your own, but you can make it through.
Now, this shift in attitude works for us on more minor scales as well. If you try to see every person in every encounter that enters your life as a gift (no matter how unlikely it seems that they could lead to something good) then you open your mind to positive potential outcomes, which in turn makes them more likely to occur. What you focus on you get more of. Additionally, you create less resistance to the present moment, which creates less difficulty and less internal suffering for yourself.
Even in times where we find someone’s behaviour greatly testing, if we see them as some kind of gift to us, then we can realise that perhaps they’re in our life to build our patience, or to teach us to stand up for ourselves, or to strengthen our acceptance, or to increase the un-conditionality of our love. Once we realise that, then we become open to evolving ourselves through our encounters with even the most trying people. And we can be grateful to them for that service. And that gratitude can give us some peace when we're in their presence, even when events with them seem chaotic or confrontational.
To sum up, when things seem their hardest, you're on the brink of becoming your greatest! Our tribulations are the catalysts on our journey of self-evolution and expansion. We can always become greater – our trials are not for nothing. Let that bring us peace; let that awareness lead us out of the dips and to the top of the mountains. When we understand that things happen for us, not to us, then we’re equipped with the knowledge that we can cultivate value from hardship, and we’re equipped with the strength to become the person who creates that value.
I hope sharing these lessons I’ve learnt has been of help to you. If you’re looking for a “team member” to help you push through your own painful “training”, then I’d love to help you. Please click the “book a free consultation” button in the lovely picture below to get in contact and have a free chat with me.
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