If I had $1 for the number of times I’ve felt “lost” in my life, I would be a very wealthy woman. I have always had a very strong negative reaction to any time I felt challenged by something in my life. I wanted to feel amazing, joyful and blissed out all the time. I held on to this feeling with an iron fist, refusing to accept that it might not last forever. The moment I felt myself sliding off of this high vibration, I would start to get upset, fearful, and sad and I resisted every moment of it. However, if I really think about all the times I’ve “lost” myself or struggled in my life, something beautiful was waiting for me on the other end.
There is a great proverb I heard recently:
The obstacle is the path.
I would have balked at this not too long ago, because I was so caught up in the suffering I would experience when I felt like I was off my path, off track, or “lost.” The truth is that there is so much beauty in being lost. This is where growth often happens, and without the contrast of understanding what it feels like to be “off course,” we would never be able to appreciate how wonderful it feels to be on.
The truth is that we are always on the path. Even in our darkest times, we are on our path. Every moment, every experience, no matter how we perceive it, is meant for us and we are always where we are meant to be. Reframing is a technique used by coaches and therapists to help someone look at a situation differently. Here are a few tips to help you reframe your challenges and obstacles so you can garner more acceptance, and perhaps even appreciation:
- Challenges are opportunities: The moment we open to the possibility that challenge isn’t negative, bad or to be avoided, it opens us to the idea that it can be a good thing. Many of us avoid challenges by running away. We tend to think they are to be avoided and we judge the experience as it’s happening. However, once you can start understanding the positive role obstacles and challenges play in your life, you can begin to see how they benefit you. Once you start seeing the good they bring, you will learn to lean into them, and dare I say, thank them when they show up.
- The struggle will not last forever: This is a really important remind to those of us who get really uncomfortable with the struggle. It never lasts. No feeling ever lasts. Everything passes. You will not feel awful forever. When you’re in the midst of the challenge and it’s producing negative emotions for you, remember my favorite saying, “This too shall pass.”
- Moving through challenges builds strength: Once you start to accept challenges as part of life and you get better at moving through them, you will start to realize that a good challenge or obstacle makes you stronger and creates a feeling of empowerment. Many of us feel victimized by life. We think life is having its way with us and that we have no say in the matter. We do! We can control how we move through it and how we choose to think about it. We can run away and feel victimized, or we can rise to the occasion, flex our badass muscles and face it with acceptance and grace. The first time is the hardest, but you will build those mental muscles and get stronger over time. Eventually, you will realize how far you’ve come.
Here is another of my favorite proverbs:
Turn poison into medicine.
- Look for the good that has come from your past struggles: This exercise is very powerful in helping you build awareness around the positive aspects of struggle. It’s very common for us to hear someone say, “That was one of the hardest times of my life, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t happened.” One very common and relatable experience that highlights the good that can happen from struggle is when people are heartbroken over a breakup, feeling like it’s the end of the world, only to meet the love of their lives. So look back over the hard times in your life and see if you can find the positive outcomes.
- Contrast is a good thing: Once you build awareness around the positive aspects of struggle, you can start attempting to view contrast as a positive thing. My mother always told me, “Without feeling sad, you wouldn’t know what it’s like to feel happy.” I rejected this, thinking that I would simply find a way to always feel happy! Well, that didn’t work out too well for me, but I kept at it for years. It’s not easy to lean into struggle. However, as you build awareness and expand your thinking, you can practice each time a challenge comes your way and you will get better and better. Shifting your thinking to looking for the positive is a practice.
With so much love,