We grow up aspiring to achieve great things; we hope to find the most attractive partner, own a big house, amass wealth, and become an all-around successful person in this vast world. We often believe that making it through life without significant hardship is the ultimate measure of success. We do our best to avoid suffering at all costs.
When we inevitably encounter periods or even lifetimes of hardship, we question why. We ask ourselves, "Why me? Why is this happening?" Society conditions us to be winners; to excel in our work, sports, or hobbies. We are taught that if we don't win, we are insignificant. However, we are not taught how to cope with failure, mistakes, setbacks, or rejection when they inevitably occur in our lives.
Nobody is teaching us how to move forward or deal with trauma, challenges, or adversity. Suffering isn't a popular topic for company trainers, motivational speakers, or self-help gurus. We all want to steer clear of anything perceived as failure or pain. Nobody wants to hurt, but we all do anyway, so it's time we look at it for what it is - an experience we all go through.
What if our understanding or lack of teaching about suffering is entirely misguided? What if, instead of trying to avoid pain, mistakes, or trouble (not to say we should live recklessly), we embrace these challenges when they arise? Instead of asking, "Why me?" we could say, "Let this experience shape me."
We were never meant to get through life unscathed. Life is about finding strength and resilience in the face of adversity. When we can truly have faith in ourselves during our hardest times, something remarkable happens: we grow and evolve as people.
Don't fear when hardships happen, don't think you did something wrong or that you are a failure, and most certainly don't think you're the only one going through anything. That is the biggest misconception of all. We are all dealing with various painful experiences in our lives.
Have faith and know that everything will work out in the end. Embrace challenges, knowing that they lead to perseverance, character, and ultimately hope. Hope does not disappoint, as it allows us to find strength and love within ourselves and others.
So when suffering comes and we face life-altering situations, instead of dwelling on the negative and turning inward with self-loathing and shame, let's use these experiences to transform ourselves into stronger, more resilient individuals. If we allow these challenges to shape us, they can become a beautiful tapestry of our lives, filled with empathy and understanding for those around us.
Something happens inside of us, and we begin to view others with compassion rather than judgment. We start to relate to the pain and suffering of others, as we too have experienced it. This transformation, if we allow it to take place, is incredibly powerful and beautiful.
Don't fear, hold on to faith in yourself and the belief that your life is under control. You will not be the same, but you will emerge stronger and more compassionate.