Making Purpose From Pain
Not a single one of us will make it through life unscathed by something that shakes us to our core, brings us to our knees, changes us on an elemental level. Some people experience these things from a young age and the hits seem to keep coming over and over again. Others make it well into adulthood with relative ease before the bombshell blows up their lives. All of us will go through something hard. Death, divorce, betrayal, illness, loss-at some point our sense of safety, security and identity will be threatened. None of us will escape it and I can’t even comfort you with the promise that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know that it does. I do believe, however, that we can choose to create meaning from the hard things we go through. We can choose to let them consume us-drown us in a tsunami of bitterness or we can use them to develop us. Hard things suck. Sometimes the silver lining is a thread so small that it’s as subtle as the thread of a spider web. We can’t always choose the hard things that come, but we can choose how we use them. Good CAN come from bad. Here are some of things that happen alongside the hard.
You develop deep empathy.
When you’ve been through something that shakes up your entire world, you understand primal pain. The kind of pain and loss that reverberates through your core. Before, you may have been able to intellectually understand deep hurt, the way you may have never had a broken bone but you can understand that it it hurts. When you have broken a bone, you know that specific dull ache. You don’t feel it physically forever, but there is a new kind of knowing-you can be taken right back to that feeling. It’s the same with emotional pain. Once you’ve experienced a specific type of hurt and loss, you can immediately recognize when someone else is feeling it and you can not just understand it intellectually, but you can feel it with them.
You discover your strength
When life hits you hard, you find out what you’re made of. You may get knocked down, but somehow you rise back up. When you look back, you can barely believe you survived. You may have not had to use those survival muscles before, but just like any muscle-they are developed with more weight. Once you have overcome something hard, you find a new power. You’ve seen the thing that you feared, and you survived it.
You become more authentic
When you’re stripped down to your core, all of the extra “fluff” fades away. You don’t have time for fake, to keep up appearances, to worry about the way others perceive you. You become more raw when you’re vulnerable. That vulnerability connects you with who you truly are and it spills out into the rest of your world. The more authentic you become, the more aligned you become. You recognize the people that are aligned with you and you weed out the ones that aren’t. You lose the connections that aren’t based in alignment and find that you begin to live a life that is more in tune with who you are and who you want to be. You figure out that life is short and you don’t have time for fluff.
You Find Out Who Your People Are
This one can be a hard thing all on its own. When you go through something tragic, you find out who your people are and who they aren’t. Many times, the people that you thought would show up for you, disappear. It hurts, but the space they leave becomes filled with new and often unexpected people that you never saw coming. You become more skilled at recognizing the people that align with you and your intuition hones in on the ones that don’t.
You figure out what really matters and can let the small things go
Nothing puts life into perspective more effectively than going through something hard. When that happens, you realize how much time you have wasted on things that don’t really matter. Small inconveniences and annoyances that used to wreck your whole day now fade away into the background until you can’t even see them anymore. The stuff life is really made of-your people, your character, your impact-becomes clear and the rest falls away.
You learn the power of acceptance
The more you fight against truth, the more exhausted and unsettled you will be. Part of the grieving process is denial. It protects you for a little while-helps soften the intensity of a big blow-but you can’t stay there. The final stage of grief, acceptance, is the key to moving forward. Acceptance doesn’t mean the pain didn’t exist or that whatever happened was ok. Acceptance just means to let it be. Stop wishing it was any different. Stay anchored in the now, rather than be dragged into what could have/should have been. Once you accept your reality-all of the ugly parts-you are free.
Your connections with others deepen
There is a different kind of bond that can exist after you have been broken down to your essence. You deepen as a person which opens you up to deeper connections with others. You will find that you have less tolerance for surface level relationships and you crave more meaningful connections.
You get closer to alignment
Something about going through something hard sharpens the focus of who you truly are. You begin to weed out the things that don’t serve you and move into purpose. As you begin to heal from whatever hard thing it was, your path comes into focus and anything that tries to lead you off of that path falls away. You find that you stop accepting the things, places, and people that don’t align with where you are going. The noise fades into the background making room for your intuition to lead you and when you are led by intuition, your life begins to align with your purpose.
Hard things are a part of life. We all get dealt blows in life that reroute us and steal the future we imagined. The beauty is that while we can’t always control the blows we are dealt, we can choose our response. We can choose to make purpose and meaning out of those things. We can allow the hard things to reduce us or we can allow them to soften us, strengthen us, grow us.