“And I’ll find strength in pain And I will change my ways I’ll know my name as it’s called again.” – The Cave by Mumford and Sons
When we face a crisis it can difficult to handle. Any upheaval in life, from problems with our health, relationships, or career, can lead us to question the path we’re on and the person we’re becoming. Fortunately it’s possible to turn a bad event into a moment of growth and development. I do recognize that there are certain events that are completely tragic and I’m not trying to minimize these types of experiences. Pain is difficult at any level, but for those more anticipated life obstacles, we have a choice to either let them keep us down, or find a way to use them to better ourselves. The field of positive psychology has explored the concept of post-traumatic growth, which refers to the positive changes that can occur from life struggles. People can bounce back from difficult situations with greater mental strength. We can gain a new perspective on life, become more grateful, and recognize how strong we really are. If you’re going through a trying time, consider these six questions to help you grow stronger through adversity.
1. How has this changed my priorities about what is important in life?
A difficult turn of events can help us view life from a new perspective where we learn what is really important to us. A classic example is the person who by misfortune loses their prestigious, time consuming job, and rekindles the relationships with family to become happier and realize they’re better off. Sometimes misfortune can lead us to be more open and honest with ourselves.
2. What appreciation have I gained for the value of my own life?
I’m sure you’ve had close calls where your life flashed before your eyes. We don’t always fully appreciate what we have until we recognize it is all impermanent. These are the moments where we become thankful for being alive. During any struggle we can find greater appreciation for life, and end up feeling more grateful for what we have.
3. How has this changed my life path for the better?
Life’s course rarely allows predictable straight shots. Sometimes the path we didn’t expect to travel is the one we find ourselves most connected to. The unpredictable path can be the one to make us a better-rounded human being, and allow us to rekindle old passions.
4. How has this increased my understanding of spiritual matters?
Maybe through struggles you have gained a stronger faith, or it allowed you to connect with a higher power that previously felt distant. Any life changing experience can lead us to be more spiritually aware, which is exactly where personal strength and life’s miracles come from.
5. How has this brought me closer to others?
Times of sadness can bring us closer to those we care about. Our relationships offer us support and solace to help us dig our way out of the mess we are in. From this we can learn a great deal about how wonderful people are, and how important they are in our life.
6. How have I become stronger than I thought I was?
The more challenging moments we rise to, the more we learn how much we can handle. We realize that, “If I can get through this, I can get through anything.” Resilience and mental toughness are learned as we confront the hazards of life and come away intact. We won’t always find a good answer to all of these questions, but we can usually find some meaning and significance in most obstacles. Remember to stay optimistic and look for the lessons in the obstacles that you face.