Every single one of us will experience some kind of challenge during our lifetime. These challenges are inevitable. Navigating those challenges, and learning what we need to learn from them, are some of the most productive experiences we will have. When we recognize the universality of adversity in the human experience, we are able to ease up on ourselves as we struggle our way forward through these challenges. Instead of asking “why do we suffer?”, we learn to ask, “what can I learn from this?”
I have been working as a therapist for over a decade, and I have seen clients struggle with the three big stressors: health crises, relationship crises, and financial crises. In every case, it is as though the Universe is bringing up issues, sometimes repeatedly, to show us where we are vulnerable. Being courageous in the face of this vulnerability is the first step to healing.
This means that we take the position that our struggles are not some “unfair thing” that is happening to us; instead, we choose to believe that in overcoming our struggle, there is a tremendous opportunity for personal growth. Surely, there are unfair things that are way outside of our control that do happen to us. But placing our attention there saps our energy and removes us from our personal empowerment. By focusing instead on how we can grow from these hard experiences, we put ourselves in the driver’s seat of our lives.
Fostering a sense of authorship
I have noticed a pattern so often that I am now deeply convicted of its truth: When we focus on the things that we can do something about, we feel a sense of efficacy, of authorship, over our lives. Most of life is out of our domain, but it as though we are an artist; we have been provided the canvas and the paints, but we are the ones holding the brush. It is up to us to create the best we can with what we have.
Sometimes, friends and family, books and workshops, places of worship or spiritual practices help us through our struggles. Sometimes counseling can help. If you are struggling and would like some perspective, give me a call.