Is it possible to reframe adversity? And if so, what’s the point? I mean, sucky situations…..well, suck. Am I right? What if I told you it didn’t have to be that way? That there is a way to reframe your adversity into something more. Possibly even something……….good……
“Pain” in life is inevitable. Let me repeat that. In the journey of life, every human will have some sort of a painful season. It might be the pain of disappointment, the pain of loss, the pain of rejection, the pain of regret, the pain of missed opportunities….and so on. The question becomes does it make you bitter or better? Do you feel resentful or grateful? If you feel resentful, I get it. Without a doubt, some people are dealt a really lousy deck. But what if the inevitable storms are allowed into your life for your benefit?
Is it possible that adversity is actually a good thing? I know, this is a hard pill to swallow, but stick with me…..There is the possibility that “pain” can make you better. At the very least, more resilient. At best, more loving, empathetic, and selfless. Can you imagine viewing your pain in such a way? Ryan Holiday gives an excellent argument for this way of thinking in his book “The Obstacle Is The Way”. If you haven’t read it, I promise you it is a must-read.
I have seen this first hand. I have had many people over the years report “My stroke/brain injury/spinal cord injury/MS has made me a better person”. Yes, it is true. The most common reason I hear is “it made me stop and smell the roses”. But there was also “John”…..
John was in his mid 50’s when he suffered a massive stroke. If I had to describe his personality, I would say he was a gentle soul with a big heart. Super kind and thoughtful. Always wanted to know how my day was going. He was much more concerned about those around him than he was for himself. I pointed this out to him and his wife one day in therapy and they both burst out laughing. You see, “John” wasn’t always this way. Prior to his stroke, he was a prominent attorney with a successful practice. According to him, he was “a little intense”. According to his wife, he was more than just a little intense. To the point where he had a hard time keeping support staff at his law firm. His wife was more than happy to tell me about the one secretary who didn’t even make it through the first day. She left for lunch and didn’t return. This was clearly not the same man that I had been treating for several months……
John and his wife both agreed…..his stroke made him a better husband, father, and boss.
Cancer, strokes, MS, PD, ALS, GBS..etc happen. And as an outsider looking in, it sucks. Bad things really do happen to good people. And I have said it before and I will say it again……I will not pretend to understand the severity of someone else’s pain. The pain you are feeling, whether physical and/or mental/emotional is real. And you should 1000% feel it. When you are ready, you have a choice…..focus on the pain and everything you lost or maybe try and find something you have gained. For “John”, it was finding a deeper level of appreciation for his family. There is ALWAYS a silver lining. Finding it won’t be easy. It requires letting go of what you have lost and focusing on what you have gained. And you never know…..you too may discover you are a better version of yourself.