Turning Hardship into Learning


There are some days when I just want to throw up my hands and surrender. When it feels like everyone wants a piece of me, and I come home feeling "chipped." When nothing seems easy and everything is a struggle. I am sure everyone has felt like this some time.

In these trying circumstances I have a choice. I can feel disheartened, worn down and frustrated, or I can accept that within the chaos is an opportunity for personal growth. Rather than feeling victimized and reacting to the circumstances, I can take a proactive stance and choose a different course. By proactive, I mean I accept this is happening to me, and I attempt to remain calm and positive while events swirl around me. I know easier said than done in many cases.

In his book The Power of Kabbalah, Yehuda Berg discusses the challenges of not reacting to external stimuli coming from every direction. It is not easy to resist immediate gratification. When I am offended by a comment or something does not happen as expected I find myself responding to the circumstances (getting defensive or being upset by the outcome) instead of pausing, taking a breath and acknowledging the complaint or accepting the outcome.

Being proactive does not mean suppressing or denying my emotions when I am upset or when I have been treated badly. I will want to respond to the person with whom I had the upsetting interaction, but at a time when I have a "cooler head."

Acting proactively means I act in a moment of clarity and calm. For example, if I can respond to a perceived personal affront without animosity or vengeance towards the individual, then I have learned from this situation. I have given myself the opportunity to grow.

I am learning the signs my body gives me when I am about to react to circumstances. I am sometimes surprised by how I can acknowledge what is happening and stop the familiar reactive pattern.

It is a work in progress. Tomorrow always holds more learning.