Earlier this week I shared with you about how some of the difficulties in my life are transforming into wellsprings of beautiful lessons. As often happens, I have heard from friends and colleagues that they too are having significant growth from discovering the gifts that challenging times offer. I just love when the folks around me are “getting” it at the same time I am.
For that very reason, I wanted to share with you some of the ways I am helping that process along. I think we often feel like those parts of our lives have control over us and that we are out of control when they happen, but I am starting to believe that those hard times just might be the most blessing rich times of our lives….if we choose for them to be.
My Tips for Finding the Gifts in Difficulty
- Feel the Feelings: There is nothing worse than being in pain, emotional or physical, and never getting to fully have what your are feeling recognized and witnessed. As a Life Coach, this is some of the most important work that I do. However, I have learned over the years that I don’t have to have another person witness my pain, although that is certainly invaluable. When I don’t have that luxury, I give myself permission to express what I am feeling through art, writing, movement, or just by talking to the walls. It may sound crazy, but it helps. I am able to move the energy of those feelings out to make room for a more enlightened perspective. This allows me to grow a deeper understanding of what I am feeling, where it comes from, and what it could possibly transform into that I might never get to if I am unwilling to look at it. In fact, not feeling our feelings can lead to even more discomfort and difficulty.
- Softening: At some point in the process of feeling the feelings, I become aware that I have gotten to some of the meat of the issue. For me, I sometimes feel myself pull back from the “feeling session” a bit, there is a lull or a break where I can see from the point of view of the Inner Witness. Instead of pushing out the emotions with strong intent, I will shift into a more receptive stance. For me, this is often the place where transformation can take place. I may find myself at a crossroads where I have a choice to make. Should I stay with the difficulty or encourage myself to move beyond it. Sometimes I have to stay with it a bit longer. That is definitely okay. But, often, I will choose to soften myself, soften my anger or fear and invite something new to come in.
- Looking for the Gifts: I learned early on in my life that I could….that we could….. ask to see the gifts of a situation. The more difficult situations can take more willingness to open up to, but those often come with the most meaningful blessings. I have encouraged myself to continue to revisit the potential gifts from the uncomfortable places in my life time and again, and as deep as something can hurt, that is as deep as the gifts go. If a situation has layers of grief, anger, fear, or pain, I discover a morsel of love and goodness with each peeling back. Sometimes the hurt of a situation is so deep that I can go back again and again for decades with new gifts showing themselves.
- Claim the Gifts: It isn’t just enough to get a sense of something being good or positive from a difficulty. Just as we find deeper understanding from fully expressing the feeling of hurt, so do we more fully glean the gifts when we name them, when we talk about them, write or draw about them….when we make them real and fleshed out. Claiming our gifts can also be a gift that we give to others because we are modeling a way of living to others that is based on love of self and love of life.
- Expressing Gratitude: This is definitely the bonus tip. When we gather a gift from a difficulty, there is an additional grace (or gift) that comes from affirming that the gift would not have been ours had the difficulty not come. Moving into a space of gratitude for the painful situation can inspire even further treasure.
I would love to hear how you have found gifts in your own difficulty or if this list has inspired any ah-ha’s for you. Creativity takes many forms, but this kind of work is the creativity of better living and it is one of my faves.