How your darkest moments can lead to important lessons – ‘Everything happens for a reason’ You’ve heard that little gem, Yes? Were you ready to hear it or did it make you want to knock someone’s head off? Let’s face it, it was probably the latter because that’s the kind of statement you might only entertain when you’ve well and truly navigated those stormy waters. It’s the kind of statement that only you get to make about your situation once you’ve hauled back on to dry land.
I don’t know, but it seems like a kind of flippant comment to make when faced with the gravity of someone’s life changing event. I mean let’s be honest, nobody wants to hear that shit when they’ve just lost the love of their life, received a life changing diagnosis or are living through the worst time of their life. Having said that, I completely get the sentiment behind it and I have to say that following my own experiences, I do, in part, believe this to be true
However, I find the statement has a got a dismissive feel to it, so I much prefer to take the view that our difficult times and darkest moments provide us with opportunities for personal growth and development. When it feels like things are crashing down around us it doesn’t feel like it at the time but there are important lessons we can learn about ourselves and the world around us; hardships can deepen our understanding.
I like to think that the curve balls that life sometimes throws us (you know the type that knock you right off your feet) can help us to build resilience, become stronger and even evolve into something better. In my own experiences I know that this has been the case, my personal challenges have opened up avenues in my life that I don’t think I ever would have travelled down had crap not happened to me. In fact, in some weird way I am grateful for what I’ve had to go through, because I honestly believe that I am a better person for it.
That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have liked to have received my important lessons in a gentler fashion but to be honest if they hadn’t have happened in such a seismic manner, I’m not sure I would have paid enough attention or learnt what I needed to learn.
So what important lessons have I learnt from my darkest moments?
- To take responsibility- Your life is nobody’s responsibility except your own. Nobody is coming to save you, you can’t look to other people to fix things for you or make you happy. They can support you, but ultimately it’s down to you to get yourself back on to solid ground. It’s also a waste of time blaming other people. Shit things happen, people do shit things but what’s done is done, blaming someone or something for your situation is a complete waste of energy and focus. You may or may not have been responsible for the situation you find yourself in but it’s going to take YOU to get yourself out of it and that means taking responsibility.
- To trust instincts- Often in life we lose touch with our instincts, they get dulled by experiences, other people’s judgments and opinions. The truth is, you know what’s best for yourself, you are your own expert. Spending time reconnecting with yourself will help to get back in touch with that instinct and sometimes difficult life events force us to do just that.
- How resilient humans are – Sometimes it takes adversity to realise just how amazingly resilient and strong you are- to reveal your superpowers. It’s not until life tests you that you discover your strengths and skills. When we come through hardship we realise our ability to dig deep, this gives us confidence to face any future challenges.
- That sometimes, you just need to take a blind leap of faith- you can’t always be in control of the outcome, sometimes you just need to leap and trust that your parachute will open. You also won’t always know where you are going to land either but that’s ok. Life can have a funny habit of placing you just where you need to be.
- Mindset is key to surviving challenges- This is not about positive thinking, that can be nigh on impossible when the chips are down, but you don’t need to be positive to get into the right mindset for pushing through. You can be a realist about your situation and choose to actively remain optimistic that you will see brighter days. You can learn to live alongside the negative aspects of your situation without constantly orbiting them – temporary wallowing is allowed but put a time limit on it.
- Self- awareness is the foundation of self-development- When you get to know yourself inside out you become more in tune with your own needs and what you want from life. You can then begin to align yourself with people, experiences that can provide you with opportunities that will move you forward. Difficult life events have a knack of exposing truths and providing an opportunities to have some honest and enlightening conversations with yourself and others
- You always have a choice as to how you will respond- When you are experiencing a life crisis you may tend to become quite reactive to what’s happening to and around you. There can be lots of knee- jerk reactions to events as things often spiral out of control. You may not be able to control a situation but you can chose how you will respond to it. You can read more about the difference between reacting and responding here
- There are pockets of beauty in every situation, even they’re tiny- When life is super shitty, it can seem like there’s nothing good going on but I’m a firm believer that even in the darkest of moments there are silver linings to be found. It might be something as simple as your faith in human nature being restored by people’s kindness or finding out who are your real friends. I promise you there will be something somewhere for you to grasp on to.
- To ask for help- When you’re going through a difficult time it can be hard to ask for help. You may feel like people can’t help because nobody truly understands what your going through especially if it’s a long term situation.- Newsflash-you don’t need people to understand to help. Sometimes your own fears about how others will respond can prevent you from asking for help but as they say ‘if you don’t ask you don’t receive’
- Who to turn to for support- There’s nothing like a big life challenge for discovering who your real friends are. Difficult times have a habit of revealing some interesting traits in others. Sometimes learning who you can count on can be a harsh and painful lesson and while that may be, it does clear the space for the people who truly want to be there for you. You learn who you can let go of and who’s a keeper!
- There is always an option- It may feel like you’re back’s against the wall but the majority of the time there are options, you just may not have considered them yet. Your life may not be what you had planned for yourself, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options open to you. Often, it’s a case of accepting and realigning yourself with a new reality, allowing yourself some space to regroup and rethink before taking your next step.
- Gratitude- It’s pretty hard to conjure up feelings of gratitude when your life has been turned upside down but when the dust settles you realise that there are many things to be grateful for. Even on my roughest of days I did my best to come up with something that I was grateful for….sometimes it was just the fact that I had survived the previous 10 mins!
I’m pretty sure that there is still many more important lessons I have to learn from this sometimes roller coaster of a life we experience, I don’t know about you, but I find that there is something comforting in the knowledge that what ever life throws at me, I will, if I chose to, come away from the experience with some sort of insight or learning. I am, however putting in a request for learning through some fun life experiences for my next important lessons.