Understandably, we humans would love for everything in our lives to go smoothly all the time. We tend to have this idea that we are going to put our heads down, grin and bear all the pain, challenges, ups and downs for a certain number of years until the day arrives when weʻve finally figured it all out, everything becomes a piece a cake and weʻll then coast peacefully and happily through the rest of our lives. We tend to feel as though hard times in our lives are a sign of something gone wrong, that they are something that should not be happening and need to be removed as quickly as possible.
But if we look back on a “hard” or “bad” time in our life, I believe that most of the time, if we are honest with ourselves, we can actually feel grateful that it occurred. Because if it hadnʻt, we wouldnʻt have learned this or that, or we wouldnʻt have met so and so, or we wouldnʻt have landed into a certain circumstance that turned out to be really good for us.
In my own life, seven years of child sexual abuse and 22 years of silence about it eventually led to two terrifying nervous breakdowns, an awakening, the revelation of a path towards an infinitely more fulfilling life and a deeper understanding of myself and humanity. Periods of stressful financial scarcity led to a deeper reverence for, understanding of, and relationship with the positive role finances can play in oneʻs life and purpose. Finally, years of painful association with and aversion towards dance tilled the soil and created a foundation from which a rebirth of dance in my heart, mind and body could occur, redefining my purpose, yet again.
There is a lot of simultaneity here: the above experiences of mine were painful, stressful, and damaging as well as enlightening, instructive and evolutionary. I think we make it harder on ourselves when we try to label our experiences solely as this or that. I have found that my experiences are most often this, that and the other simultaneously and that taking this perspective on them allows me to grow from them profoundly and exponentially, whether they were pleasurable or painful in the moment.
If we do the work of researching our past “hard” or “bad” life experiences and discovering all the good that actually came from them, it can give us the knowledge, evidence and confidence to boldly know and declare, in the midst of a current painful experience, “At some point, I will be grateful for this experience because I will understand that it helped me to grow.” This does not mean that the current experience will necessarily completely cease to be painful or hard, but I have found that it can make it, at the very least, much more manageable, as it can lessen, if not erase, the crippling feeling of victimhood.
When we put ourselves in the stratum of gratitude, we put ourselves in the powerful position of choice. We may not be consciously choosing to experience the current painful situation, but we can consciously choose to listen to why the pain or challenge has arrived in our lives, and ask, what is it here to teach us? I have found that every experience arrives with the gift of a priceless teachable moment. This knowingness gives us the capability to engage in a partnership with life rather than feeling as though we are being controlled by some supernatural dictator with a bad attitude, “Why is the Universe and/or God against me?” This could not be further from the truth.
365 days a year, 24 hours a day, there is actually only one thing gong on, EVOLUTION: progressive change from one state to another. Sometimes itʻs joyful, sometimes itʻs painful, but itʻs always evolutionary. So the next time a challenging, sad, painful, or scary experience arrives, try to stop, look and listen to what it is hear to teach you about where you are, what it is time for you to let go of, what it is time for you to gain and where it is time for you to go. And if youʻre charmed, try uttering something like, “Thank you for this experience and for the greater one it is carrying me to.”
Wishing you health, love and the revelation of your fulfillment.