How Do You Change Painful Experiences into Growth?
Some guys resent others to whom life comes easy. If you think about it, do you really want to be one of those guys? The moment they hit a challenge in their life they get completely thrown off, become frustrated, and give up. When push comes to shove, and success requires real effort and character, these people are the first to fail. They don’t have the strength, character, and integrity to cope with growing pains, because they have never had to grow, and maybe never will. Ultimately, if you have not tasted these growing pains you will not really appreciate the taste of success when it does come; such men will take it for granted and life will be dull for them.
There is not a success that tastes any better than the success that comes after overcoming adversity. Bad experiences are a part of the journey and are a good thing. You need to have these experiences in order to learn. People grow more from bad experiences, challenges, and even failures. Painful experiences activate the brain in a way that easy experiences do not, and never will.
Difficult experiences create a specific sense of urgency to take action to find a solution and resolve the situation. You have a choice: you can either try to avoid the situation which will result in the tension and stress absorbing into your body, or you can work toward solving the problem at hand, during which your brain is creating new reference experiences, learning and growing. If you can develop the perspective that painful experiences are part of a personal growth and learning process you will develop the habit of making the best of bad situations.
If you remain stuck in the belief that hard experiences should not be happening, or that challenges are a bad thing, you run the risk of ingraining negativistic thinking patterns that increase the likelihood that you'll experience anxiety or depression. On the other side of the coin "those with a positive outlook were more likely to look back on negative events and report how much better things are for them now." I would also add to the latter that this same positive outlook will allow you to see how much you've grown in relation to negative events, and maybe even be grateful that they happened.
For those whom success comes easy it is really the same as being asleep at the wheel. They do not see the amazing raw beauty of life as they pass it by, and when a challenge lies in their path, they crash. Resisting inevitable challenges in life every step of the way creates suffering. Eckhart Tolle says "Suffering is necessary until it is unnecessary." The secret lies in your perspective. Mastery of these emotions requires the discipline to look in the mirror and admit when something went wrong, and if you make a mistake, to change and grow from it rather than becoming attached to the narrative of how much you messed up. The reward is the journey. Embracing this will allow you to let go of the attachment to the way you want things to be or the way you want to do things which might not be working for you, and bring a playful attitude to everything you do and enjoy the ride instead of constantly asking "Are we there yet?"
Tolle, Eckhart. “A New Earth (Oprah #61).” Penguin, 2010-03-01. iBooks.
Photo Courtesy of AdamSelwood (AdamSelwood: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adselwood/2463634924/)