The Fuel of Adversity
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S. Lewis
Often times the most pivotal moments of our path are created from the most turbulent and unpleasant experiences that we have.
I’m going to tell you a story.
You may not relate to this exact scenario, but I know that you’ll relate to the fundamental emotion presented, which is why I’m sharing this deeply personal experience with you.
I used to work for a company doing a job that I wasn’t passionate about, but that I enjoyed and was good at. I worked tirelessly and diligently month after month to help make that business successful. But I never really felt recognized and I definitely didn’t feel like I was making any kind of important impact.
I stayed, though, because it was comfortable.
Then something happened that made my entire world come crashing down around me.
At the time, I was pregnant with my second child. I went in for a routine exam when I was told that the pregnancy was too high risk to move forward with. There was no option. If I continued, the pregnancy would kill us both. I went to doctor after doctor and the consensus was always the same.
I lost that baby and have never been more devastated.
The reality of life’s delicate yet harsh nature hit me full force. The crushing weight of sorrow and guilt was all consuming.
It took me weeks to feel like I could breathe again and months to be able to see out from the dark cloud that had settled over my spirit.
But eventually that black cloud began to lighten, turning into a soft grey. I spent a lot of time in that grey period reflecting on life, and I realized that I couldn’t settle any more. I couldn’t spend my days working at something I knew wasn’t the absolute best use of my precious and fleeting time.
I realized that I had a choice. I could take the devastation of losing my baby and I could push it down into a dark corner of myself and continue on the path of “fine”. (You know the one – “My business is fine”, “My level of happiness is fine”, “My life is fine”…)
Or I could feel it and use it as fuel to help me progress toward my true path.
This wasn’t an easy choice. “Fine” is a comfortable place to be. Sure, it’s not great, but it’s also not bad. And the risk of leaving “fine” is that you might end up in “horrible”. But you also might end up in “FANTASTIC!!!”…
I chose to go for the latter and although it was the harder and scarier of the two choices, the rewards have far outweighed the challenges.
Deep reflection and allowing myself the space to truly feel the full range of what I had experienced, saved me.
I analyzed the trauma that I felt had left a permanent mark on my soul. I looked at how I felt for the past several months and I realized what was keeping that wound wide open was the absence of closure.
So I did something about it.
I went to a natural park on the outskirts of town that’s known for its seclusion and peaceful beauty. I found the perfect spot near a small pond and I said goodbye to that small spirit that had briefly lived inside my body.
From that moment forward, I focused my energy on examining what I truly wanted from my life and how I wanted to be impactful.
Years and a lot of hard work later, I now work for a company that is in line with the direction I want to travel in, and I also own my own business helping people find their own balance.
Both of which light that fire in my belly – that passion that was lacking previously.
Emotions are a complex part of humanity.
Every thought that we think and every decision that we make in our lives is backed by an underlying emotion.
Buddhism teaches that all emotions can be condensed down into two main categories: Love and Fear.
Love can make you feel like your heart is going to burst. Like you’re walking on clouds. Like you can barely contain the excitement that wants to radiate from every cell within you.
Fear can make you feel as if there’s no hope. Like every color you see is reflected in hues of grey. Like there’s an invisible weight pressing your body slowly but diligently into the ground.
Ignoring that weight, or trying to bury it, will only make it grow stronger and louder. It will nag and scream at you until you finally listen to it.
Only once you’ve listened can you move forward from a neutral place.
From my experience, I learned that adversity is what creates us.
The fundamental pieces of who we are as a person are not created during times of peaceful happiness. They’re forged in the fire of adversity. They’re hammered into a beautiful design while our spirit is red hot with emotion.
Adversity is the part of life that fuels our growth the most effectively. If we hold the knowledge that the hardships of life can be used in a positive and loving way, the discomfort we feel can be turned into something entirely different.
It can be turned into strength and that’s what makes discomfort empowering!
When you’re faced with the heaviness of those left turns that life can throw at you, don’t push them aside as quickly as you can because they feel uncomfortable. Feel the discomfort. Sift through it and find the power that’s there.
Find how you can take the experience, whether it be personal, professional or a mixture of both, and use it as fuel to propel yourself towards your own truth.
Your emotions are not something to be disregarded.
They’re a tool to be utilized.
They will tell you when you’re on the right path and when you’re not.