Life is full of challenges, and always will be, because that’s just how life is. But no matter how tough it might be at times, don’t always see challenges as a negative thing. Sometimes, the tough times in your life can bring out your biggest strengths.
I want you to close your eyes and think of a difficult experience affecting you right now. Before you read any further, do this simple step to get a sense of how the problem is upsetting you. You may experience a range of emotions and I invite you to welcome them. Don’t push them away because they are uncomfortable. Allow them to be present since unpleasant emotions can teach us something valuable if we are present to them.
Good, now open your eyes and let’s talk more about your problems. Thankfully, you are one of the billions of people on this earth lucky enough to experience challenges. Lucky you say? Are you insane Tony? How am I lucky to have problems? You are lucky because your challenges contain the seeds of opportunities you have yet to discover.
Challenges contain enormous growth and when we overcome them, we can never go back to our old way of life. They help us recognize the endless possibilities and expand our consciousness. When I asked you to contemplate a current problem earlier, you no doubt experienced the negative emotions associated with it? And you would be right to feel this way because from where you stand the problem seems insurmountable.
However, when you bridge the gap, it is diminished and you are able to see your challenges from a new perspective. You’re unable to perceive your problem with that mindset now because you haven’t gained the necessary growth.
It’s easy to see how our challenges expose our weaknesses, but we ought to think of them differently: they also reveal our strengths. If we accept the emotions that arise, we can work through our challenges more effectively. For example, I remember working with a young woman named Jennifer within a coaching capacity. Each time she experienced difficulties in her life, she would call me in a frenzy and explain how the situation was consuming her.
One day during a coaching session, I invited her to tackle her challenges without allowing her anxiety, fear, and frustration to get the better of her. I asked her to welcome these feelings since they were trying to teach her something valuable. Previously, she wanted to get rid of them because they didn’t feel good. And I understand she would feel that way, however, negative emotions can show us where we need to direct our attention.
Does this make sense? Are you comfortable with the idea that negative emotions serve a purpose and we needn’t feel helpless because of them? I counseled Jennifer to be aware of her response and not push the emotions away, since they were trying to teach her something important. Given she felt anxious and irritated each time, meant the problem was important to her.
It requires changing our response so we remain calm instead of reacting to what is taking place. We ought to interact with our core emotions and work through the issues instead of responding negatively.