I was traveling with a tour group in Italy a number of years ago. When we arrived, one of the couples was missing their luggage.
You would have thought the world had fallen apart.
They chewed out the tour guide (who was a native of the city and had just met our group) and complained loudly for two and half days.
On the third day, we were sitting with another couple for dinner when we discovered their luggage had also been lost. Up until that very minute, no one else in our party even knew.
They saw it as a unique opportunity to simplify and looked at it as a part of the story they would tell for years to come.
It wasn’t just “making lemonade out of lemons,” they literally reframed their perspective of the event.
We have absolutely no control over many of the circumstances that occur in our lives. But we can control how we frame their meaning.
Confidence used to elude me.
I spent much of my early life fully aware I didn’t have my act together – always trying to catch up and feeling very much like an imposter in the process.
Everyone has pain and suffering in their life, some more than others, and everyone deals with it in their own way. The people around me all seemed to have their act together and didn’t have to struggle.
As I developed deep friendships with strong, confident women in my adult years, I learned that wasn’t true at all.
In fact, all of them had learned how to be more confident because they struggled.
Collectively they have overcome divorce, overwhelming debt, betrayal, abuse, unimaginable loss, death, lawsuits, failure, battles with anorexia, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
They aren’t strong women in spite of their struggles; their strength developed because they struggled and reframed its meaning in their life.
When we give meaning to our suffering, it is no longer pointless.
In my yoga class one day, just as I felt a bead of sweat drip from the tip of my nose during a side plank, and I was about to give up, my instructor said, “peace through stamina” and I knew I could hang on.
I had been gritting my teeth and simply enduring the pain.
But with that simple phrase, my yoga instructor had gifted me the confidence to hang on by giving the pain meaning. It wasn’t just suffering; it was connected to a higher purpose.
And I was instantly back on track.
We’re not talking about finding the meaning of life, but “meaning in the moment.” I was able to thrive in a difficult moment because it was no longer about that particular moment.
It wasn’t something I had to “get through” – it had a purpose of its own.
I struggle with lots of things that nail holes in my confidence.
Finances, family stories, loss of hope. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even doing the right work.
To reframe my challenges, I ask myself three questions:
- What am I grateful for in this moment?
- What am I supposed to be learning from this?
- What is the good that could come out of this?
The answers to those questions shift my focus to a solution-oriented mindset and I can move forward with purpose.
As we meet each of our challenges, let’s reframe their meaning so they are no longer pointless. Finding meaning in the moment can give us the confidence to get back on track.
Now get out there and take charge!
Originally published at www.annvertel.com