Use Your Hard Times Too
Are hard times wrong? Must they define a person’s life completely? Or, is there something about hardship that’s could be worth salvaging?
Sitting at my desk, down here in our house in Hobart (a little city near the bottom of the World), I know with certainty that you already know a thing or two about hard times. Why? Because, even the simplest, smoothest existence knows hardship, at least sometimes.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve known a lot more pain that that. On the face of it these experiences could be regarded as a disaster, an unmitigated failure, or just a plain waste.
People who have known desperate struggle and extreme tragedy sometimes say there is no purpose in such terrible circumstances. In their case, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, such that a mass of factors conspired against them and life became almost unbearable.
I don’t want to comment on the meaning beneath terrible tragedy or the lack of it. Other than to say: the process of making meaning out of our hard times is pivotal to getting through them.
For the young lass who has been abused, or a wife who has been systematically victimized by a violent husband, there are no easy meanings, are there? These are hard things to survive, much less put into some kind of perspective.
But I believe there is some potential in our hard situations that we can make use of (when we are ready). As I explain more deeply in my book, mining your pain and suffering is one way we can turn our tragedies and hurt into something useful (even beautiful). With profound understanding, patience, and a capacity to help others, the torments of our own experience need never be the last word.
Understand this is not something glib. Reaching that point where you can turn hard life experience into something beneficial is no cakewalk. Especially when painful situations are the hardest to talk about. It can take time, and a great deal of healing to reach that state. But when you do, it’s liberation.
To sift through the wreckage and find your self-respect amongst the mess is the best way to mine all those hard events. Making meaning with the way you use your past is the essential element that propels you forward. Through these means really awful experiences become a catalyst. They aren’t glossed over, “forgotten” or even overplayed. They just take their place as a chapter rather than the whole story. And for that story to “work” we need to build better life with whatever we have in our hands (even if it’s nothing much more than a mess).
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