One thing guaranteed in life is that we will face our fair share of adversities, setbacks and painful experiences.
Those experiences often has a major effect on who we become, the decisions we make and on our overall outlook on life.
Sometimes these experiences can derail us and cause serious consequences such as:
- Affect our health and well-being.
- Reduce our motivation levels and enthusiasm for life.
- Affect our relationships in a negative way.
When we have a painful experience, it can also cause us to miss new opportunities around us.
The key is to know how to get through the difficult period when we’ve had a painful experience and come out of it with new awareness and clarity on what we want in life moving forward.
One of the most painful experiences I’ve experiences was when I had severe back problem, which affected my mobility and restricted many things I could do. At that time, I was still in my twenties and was still trying to make sense of what my life was about.
I was in a career that I felt was sucking the life out of me because I wasn’t enjoying it. There was a sense that I was trapped and inside a prison I had created myself. One event I clearly remember was on a Saturday when I went in to work as I had fallen so far behind with my work.
I had planned to stay for about four hours and within a couple of hours, I experienced a severe back spasm. It is difficult to describe the pain I experienced — I could not even get up from the chair I was sitting on. As I was the only one in the office at that time, that made it even worse.
Thankfully there were some shop floor workers at work as well and during their morning break, one of the guys came inside the office just to say hello. When I told him I could barely move, he suggested that I should get myself to a Medical Centre and offered to take me.
After visiting a doctor, I was given some pain killers, which helped numb the pain. That afternoon, I don’t know how I was able to drive back home, which was about a 40-minute drive. When I got home, I was still in some discomfort and I remember having to lie down on the floor to get out of the pair of jeans I was wearing.
Once the spasm had passed through, which seemed like it last for hours, I started getting treatment on my back through regular visits to a physiotherapist and chiropractor. Over time, my flexibility started returning and my back got stronger.
That painful experience made me aware of how my emotions, especially negative emotions, affected my physical body, which made me learn techniques on how to release them. I also started being more safety conscious when it came to correctly using my back and improving my posture.
Thankfully my back now is as healthy as it’s even been and I’ve been able to use the issues I’ve had with my back to take better care of myself physically. I would have preferred not to have gone through those years of pain but I am better off now for having gone through it.
As the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining” so here are five things we can do to shift our perspective when we experience a painful event and turn it into a new opportunity so that we can continue to move forward towards what we want.
- Stop and acknowledge the event. Rather than trying to tough it out, it’s more valuable to pause, accept what happened and get in touch with how we feel. If we feel we need to mourn, then we should, but it’s important not to stay there. It’s about allowing emotions to flow through us so that we can welcome in new emotions.
- Take responsibility for the part you played. We create our reality so if something didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, chances are we played a part in it. When we take responsibility, we’re in a much better position to accept what went wrong and what we can do better next time. A good question to ask is, “What was it about my behaviour or attitude that led to this result?”
- Extract any lessons necessary. We can learn valuable lessons from every event. Some simple questions we can ask include, “What was missing?” or “What did I learn?” or “What could I have done differently?” The answers to those questions will give us valuable insights into what we can do differently next time.
- Decide what you want. As every event we’ve experienced is in the past, we are better off shifting our focus to what we want to create moving forward. Having clarity on what matters to us will help us give more attention to those things instead of things we cannot change that are now in the past.
- Take new action. If we want to create a new experience or result, then we must take new action. The more clarity we have on what we want, the easier it will be to identify the action steps to take next. When we’re in action, that’s when other opportunities are likely to show up for us.
Having painful events are a part of life, so it’s up to us to know how to deal with them when they occur. If we know how to cope well during such events, we’re more likely to overcome them faster and be better off for having gone through the experience.
Question: How else can we turn a painful event into a new opportunity?
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