By Marquita Herald, Emotionally Resilient Living
Live boldly. Fear less. Grow forward.
When you’re working your way through one of life’s storms it is human nature to focus on getting back to normal, to “bounce back” as quickly as possible to a place where things are calm, familiar and comfortable.
Well, hang on, because I’m here to break the news to you that it is an illusion to think we can ever truly return emotionally and intellectually to where we were before the storm because every experience changes us in some way.
Sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.
The notion that we are changed by our encounters with life challenges is certainly not new, and though you probably don’t consciously give it much thought, chances are it doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The theme is present in ancient spiritual and religious traditions, literature, and philosophy.
And to see it in action all we really need to do is look at our own experiences.
The Nature of Life’s Storms
- Coping with the loss of a relationship can and often does turn one’s world upside down. Even if we are able to recover in terms of finances and quality of lifestyle, our experiences are now a part of who we are and will be reflected (for better or worse) in the way we approach future relationships.
- When we experience a major health scare, possibly involving some hospital time, we can never go back to being the person we were before the event even if we fully recover because we have encountered firsthand the fragility of life, not to mention coming face to face with our own mortality.
- The loss of a job is another event that changes us in ways that are not always obvious. Even if you quickly recover and find another job, there will naturally be a sense of vulnerability and greater awareness of your surroundings and relationships in an effort to avoid being blindsided again.
There is little doubt that we are changed, sometimes profoundly, by our experiences, the only question is how much control we have over the course of that change, and the answer is, a lot more than you might think.
Everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms. The ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. ~Viktor Frankl, Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor
The secret to navigating the storms of life …
At all times and in all situations, it is up to each of us to choose the meaning we apply to our circumstances.
Consider this … how is it that two people can be faced with the same hardship and while one becomes hopelessly mired in a web of negativity and feelings of anger and frustration, the other is able to overcome their circumstances and grow stronger than ever as a result of the experience?
The answer can be found in our attitudes and beliefs.
At one extreme, we may choose to accept the role of hapless victim and surrender to whatever fate sends our way, or become mired in “Why is it always me!” negativity and bitter frustration.
Either way is the result of a fixed mindset that is resistant to growth and change. If this is your approach to life you will be far less likely to be proactive about effectively managing change and or initiation actions to recover from adversity.
So even if you eventually see a better way to handle your response to whatever challenge you may be facing, you’ll very likely only arrive at that point after experiencing unnecessary stress and loss of valuable recovery time.
But there is another choice …
You can take full responsibility for your life by choosing to embrace change and uncertainty and learn to grow forward through all of your experiences.
Of course, this means doing the work to develop the skills and habits that will enable you to navigate life’s occasional storms. It’s being honest enough with yourself to at least consider that what was once “normal” for you may well have been what led to the storm in the first place.
It’s choosing to pay the price to own your life, to risk, live and love for all your worth, confident that regardless of whatever obstacles you may face along the way, you will be okay.
If you ask someone ‘Have you been through something difficult and come out the other side stronger, wiser and more compassionate?’ most of us would answer yes. That’s powerful proof that as humans we’re wired to grow through hardship. ~Anna A. Berardi, Ph.D., Trauma Response Institute at George Fox University
Related reading …
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.