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Life is full of challenges and sometimes it seems like we are going from one hardship to another with little time to recover between.
But what if we looked at adversity in a different way?
Would we see something of value for us going through hardships and difficult times? Here is a piece I wrote in 2014 about what I learned from adversity.
Adversity a blessing? You’ve got to be kidding!
Who would even consider such a thing? Who wants difficulties? And how can misfortunes or hard times ever be considered a blessing?
And yet, when I am honest with myself, it is precisely in those hard times where I have grown, became stronger and more resilient, learned I could do more than I thought I could, and developed emotional, mental, and spiritual muscles. It is where I learned to face my vulnerabilities head on; where I chose to take charge of my life, and not back away or sidestep or become a victim.
Going through tough times is like going to the gym to work out.
Our muscles are weak and decrepit and we know we need the exercise to get healthy and strong again. But it requires consistency, going more than just once or twice, to develop that strength and build those muscles. We need to remind ourselves why it is important to continue going even when we don’t feel like it, so we don’t give up.
With repetition, a habit is formed that keeps in place that incentive and driving force.
Adversity challenges us.
Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and take some risks?
Am I ready to acknowledge my limitations and celebrate my strengths?
Am I ready to put in the effort and hard work to become capable and confident?
If I am, I will be rewarded with a new beneficial and productive response to life, its problems, and adversities. When I am in the middle of a catastrophe or tragedy, I do not consider it a blessing. It is only later, when I look back, that I can see that I have been strengthened by the struggle and challenge.
Here are some of the things I have gained going through difficult times.
- I have developed an ongoing “I can do it” mindset that energizes my efforts to keep trying, to discover new ways to solve problems or apply my strengths in new constructive ways.
- I have learned that my abilities far exceed the reluctance and hesitations I put on myself. Facing our fears includes recognizing that we are not perfect, that we might have to try many times but with each attempt we learn something new and valuable that we can apply the next time.
- Grace and forgiveness, along with humility, are important byproducts of facing adversity. We can’t change everything. But we can change our attitudes and our responses to whatever is happening. When we recognize our need for assistance, we can seek out knowledgeable mentors or trainers. We feel comfortable asking input from our friends or asking for their support. We can call on God to help us gain wisdom and understanding to find new ways to meet our challenges.
- There are solutions to any problem if we are willing to search for them. It involves critical and creative thinking, looking at our problems from a new perspective in order to see new possibilities. Sometimes those solutions require making some tough choices that we would rather not make.
- Until I have defined my principles and core values, my choices and responses will be based more on impulse and reaction than thoughtful consideration. We are responsible for our actions and the decisions we make. Are they thought out with pros and cons and consequences?
- I have learned that I am never alone – God is always there with me even when I don’t feel His presence. Often it is afterwards that I am aware of His steady guidance.
- I have learned that life needs to be tempered with gratitude, looking for and finding those blessings. It is in the simple things in life – love, friendship, and the ability to work – where I find satisfaction and contentment.
- Throughout all my trials, I am the only one who can be in charge of my life. It is tempting to blame others and everything for the difficulties I am facing. It is easy to fall into a victim trap. But that will not give me the confidence and self-reliance I need to live a fulfilling life. I will not give up the freedom to be in charge of my life, and whether win or fail, to be able to make those choices.
May you find blessings, strength and confidence in your challenges and struggles.
We need validation for the turmoil of thoughts and emotions we experience. But we also need the tools necessary to create a new beginning that is both satisfying and meaningful. My new book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, offers those tools to help work through the problems you might be facing.