“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” — Walt Disney
Motivational speaker and author Steve Maraboli wrote in Unapologetically You: “I am so grateful for my troubles. As I reflect back on my life, I have come to realize that my greatest triumphs have been born of my greatest troubles.”
Problems have plagued mankind since he first roamed the earth 200,000 years ago. Back then, the environment was unforgiving and the uncertainty of the future meant life expectancy was low.
We’ve evolved significantly since that time, with humankind adapting to ever-increasing global changes.
Closer to home, worries are apparent in our everyday lives ranging from: health, financial troubles, relationships, family, and career to name a few.
When confronted with difficulties, there’s a tendency to believe they are greater than your capacity to overcome them. Yet once the dust has settled, your troubles are seen from a different perspective.
Garret Kramer writes in The Path of No Resistance: Why Overcoming is Simpler than You Think: “We often forget that our troubles are caused by our thinking. So we use our thinking to solve our troubles — causing more troubles.”
As much as you might think you are mired in them, problems exist to cultivate your own personal development.
Growth and expansion are fundamental to life, and without them you stay stagnant.
Life creates itself anew within each moment. In order for it to expand, it must experience chaos to give birth to new beginnings.
“The art of living lies not in eliminating but in growing with troubles.” — Bernard Baruch
Whilst I appreciate it is difficult to see a way out when of your condition, a solution is less likely to appear when you’re consumed by the problem.
Consider an alternative perspective from those you trust to help you contemplate your troubles in a new light.
It was Albert Einstein who said: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” We must develop a new awareness to perceive our problems by stepping back from the drama and disassociating ourselves emotionally.
“Accepting difficulties and the challenges in your life is an essential part of your journey, and in this acceptance you can then explore them. And in that exploration, a door opens,” states author Mary O’Malley in: What’s in the Way Is the Way: A Practical Guide for Waking Up to Life.
I am working with a client at present who is experiencing significant physical challenges in the form of an injury causing her physical, mental and emotional anguish.
She feels powerless to understand how the injury is an opportunity to learn and grow because she is consumed by the pain.
However, from a teaching perspective, she is someone who is self-critical. The injury is inviting her to treat herself with compassion and kindness, since physical wounds force us to nurse our pain — hence the need for self-compassion.
Until she does, her mental and emotional pain will get the better of her, forcing her to feel trapped and exhausted by the suffering.
She will embody the lesson at a deeper level once she experiences a shift in her awareness since it is likely to be a foreign concept to her for now.
Life presents us with difficulties and challenges clothed as pain and suffering, so we may overcome them and gain the wisdom along with it.
You are not presented with an experience you cannot rise above. Granted it may appear that way at the time and I remind you once more, it is because you are focused on the problem, not the solution.
“When you start in life, if you find you are wrongly placed, don’t hesitate to change, but don’t change because troubles come up and difficulties arise. You must meet and overcome and conquer them. And in meeting and overcoming and conquering them, you will make yourself stronger for the future.” — Charles M. Schwab
It was the poet Rumi who said centuries ago: “Welcome difficulty. Learn the alchemy True Human Beings know: the moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, a door opens.”
It is understood, if you are driving a motor vehicle and its skids out of control, focussing your attention on avoiding a solid object (problem) means your focal point is fixed on what you don’t want to happen. However, if you fix your attention on correcting the steering (solution), it is likely you will avoid an accident altogether.
As the adage goes: Energy flows where attention goes.
Regrettably, if you conceive your troubles to be greater than they are, you are likely to be consumed by the problem and unable to overcome it.
I’m not suggesting it is easy and it may take years, if not decades for a person to change their outlook. It is well worth it, though, otherwise the same problems will reappear, arranged differently.
“If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you,” declared the 30th President of the United States Calvin Coolidge.
If the only question you ask when you experience difficulties is: “What can I possibly learn from this situation?” you will have attuned your attention to a solution.
Your troubles are not as imposing as you think, it is your thoughts weighing heavily on your consciousness that dominates you. If you change your perspective, it will dissolve and a solution will emerge.
Countless individuals have overcome trouble and adversity and used it to prevail. No doubt they were consumed by the suffering, yet they rose above their predicament.
Mankind is resilient in moments of despair where he comes to realise his true character.
What is troubling you right now?
How can you overcome it?
What is the struggle inviting you to learn about yourself?
Who will you become when you conquer it?
How will you see the world differently?
These are questions to ask yourself if you want to shift from victim to victor.
Jan Frazier explains in The Freedom of Being: At Ease with What Is: “The problem isn’t that things in life are imperfect. The problem is that you believe your difficulties are what you are — that it seems well-nigh impossible to be okay alongside them.”
Awaken Your Greatest Self
“Every problem is a gift — without problems we would not grow.” — Anthony Robbins
You can overcome your troubles and turn them into triumph if you look for the lessons buried within your challenges.
Don’t let the problem be bigger than you, since you have the wisdom to surmount your difficulties, even if it doesn’t look that way.
If you must, reflect upon earlier times when you overcame previous challenges. You have what it takes to win through and you will know this when you are tested most.
A boxer becomes a better fighter in the ring facing his opponent. No amount of training can prepare him for what he is likely to encounter on fight day.
Adopt the attitude of a boxer and lean into your troubles and you will prevail.
“It is time to let go of fighting with the difficulties and discomforts of your life. This has only kept you caught in the game of struggle. It is time to learn how to explore your difficulties, understanding that discomfort is pointing you to parts of your storyteller that want to be seen and thinned so you can rediscover the meadow of your natural okayness,” affirms author Mary O’Malley.
What happens to an individual who does not experience setbacks and problems? They develop a weak spirit devoid of courage, will and perseverance.
Therefore, let your problems lead you and awaken your greatest self; the warrior being that knows how to surmount any problem life presents you with.
The late American author and poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox knew of the value of difficulties when she wrote: “No difficulty can discourage, no obstacle dismay, no trouble dishearten the man who has acquired the art of being alive. Difficulties are but dares of fate, obstacles but hurdles to try his skill, troubles but bitter tonics to give him strength; and he rises higher and looms greater after each encounter with adversity.”
Stop fighting and resisting your difficulties, believing they are bigger than you. It is this belief that keeps you stuck in your predicament.
Explore them, lean into them and face them with resiliency, knowing the right attitude will help you to rise above them.
Only then will the doorway of discomfort open to reveal the path to your greatest triumph.
Originally published at medium.com