As I look back over the year that is 2014, there’s one word that underpins it all: adversity. I feel like it’s been one hurdle after the next as month after month pass by. It’s almost as if each new month delivers it’s own course of adversity on a pungent plate. Maybe someone missed the memo that I’m no longer hungry.
I wish it were that easy to turn away the suffering and hardship. I wish I could snap my fingers and the pain would vanish, or my circumstances would magically change. But life’s not like that, is it?
As humans, we know adversity all too well. I was talking with a mother this recently whose daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. It’s like her world is crumbling down around her as she juggles her other children and her role as wife.
Another recent chat opened a floodgate to a friend’s pain as she admitted her marriage is crumbling. Lost, devastated and lonely, she moves forward into the unknown.
Sometimes, life just sucks.
My adversity stems from a season of intense grief and loss. On the one hand, I feel fortunate that death hasn’t been very familiar to me until my late twenties. On the other hand, it feels like now I’m drowning in a tear storming sea.
Loss of life. Loss of love. Loss of innocence. Loss of dreams.
But, I haven’t lost hope.
And while clinging to this hopefulness, I’ve grown stronger through my adversity.
If you spent all of your life at the top of the mountain peak, it’d be a pretty majestic scenery. That’s for sure! In practical terms, when you’re at the top of a mountain, you’re full of elation, joy and awe of the triumph. It’s the time to snap the iconic photo and bask in the light of success.
Yet, we must remember how we first got to the peak. Usually, we start at the bottom—in a valley—and slowly, strenuously work our way up to the top.
During this trek, we grow. Stronger. Wiser. Deeper. Truer.
In life, there are cycles of success and cycles of failure. There are times when good things come your way, and other time when things are stripped away and wither. In order to make space for new beautiful things to come into your life, you must surrender to the down cycles.
For real transformation to happen, dissolution must occur. This detachment, or breaking up, often results from adversity.
Now that I’m out of the eye of the storm, I can see that I’ve gained so much wisdom during this past year. I’ve done a bucketload of work on myself and feel more whole and restored because of it.
// I’ve detached from outcomes. I pursue my goals but don’t put all my stock in one particular result to equate success.
// I no longer expect certain situations, people or conditions to make me happy.
// I’ve become more comfortable in the Now. I don’t depend fully on the future for fulfillment.
// I’ve surrendered over my time-clock / agenda and fully trust in Divine timing.
All of this wouldn’t have transformed within me had it not been for adversity. I want to share some pointers that helped me during difficulty that might give you some direction if you are experiencing suffering at the moment.
HOW TO THRIVE FROM ADVERSITY
Focus on what is, not the “what ifs” or “what could haves”
Oftentimes we generalize or catastrophize our life situations. We move into “what if” and make our situation larger than it really is, or we dwell on “what could have been” and start to feel really sorry for ourselves. Neither of these tactics is healthy. Step outside of your racing mind for a moment and just sit with the present moment. You are capable of handling this situation.
Let go of the attachment
Pain and suffering can be intensified when we’re dead-set on a particular outcome. For instance, if I really wanted the job promotion because it’d make me feel valued and special, and then I didn’t get it, my reaction to the failure will be magnified compared to someone else who is completely secure in their self-worth and just went for the job promotion without an emotional attachment. When we attach ourselves to situation, people or circumstances, we set ourselves up for undue suffering, because they might not meet our expectations. If we allow life to take its course and accept each moment as it comes, we are far less likely to disturb our inner peace.
Reach out for help
It is never easy navigating a life valley on your own. Sometimes the right word of encouragement or a timely affirmation makes all the difference in the world. You are worthy of love. There are people in your life who want what’s best for you. Seek out those trustworthy friends and confide in them. If you’re stuck and need a push in the right direction, it’s helpful to set some intentions and goals for the coming months. When we have something positive to work towards, our spirits are lifted and our momentum is increased.
If you haven’t already downloaded your FREE copy of The Mariposa Companion: Your Monthly Intention and Goal Setting Powerbook, I’d love for you to do so! I created this Companion to help you navigate each new month by getting crystal clear on your intentions and goals. With this Powerbook, you’ll be able to set action steps and accountability measures. You’ll also find empowering affirmations and inspiring original quotes sprinkled throughout.
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Lots of love,