Life is a constant improvement process. None of us is finished with that process or ever will be. If you choose to embrace the idea, you can see every one of your challenges as a test—of strength, of resourcefulness, of resilience.
Seen this way, personal and professional hurdles and setbacks are opportunities to build, never to throw in the towel. They are moments to dig deeper and find the resolve to continue on. Tests aren’t meant to frustrate you or make you fail. They are meant to make of you more than you were before.
It’s important when facing adversity in life to really believe, to the core of your being, that the tests you encounter aren’t meaningless arrows shot at you to take you down. They are sent your way by God (or the universe, if you prefer) to kindle your empathy or insight or endurance or sense of self. So it’s proper to wonder what will be required of you, in order to pass the test or meet the challenge. And it’s proper to wonder why you are being forged into finer steel.
In the face of tests in life, these may, in fact, be the three questions to ask yourself:
- How will living through this leave me as a better person?
- What will be asked of me in the future, given the new qualities I develop?
- Who else can I help, even as I am in pain during this difficult time?
The third of the questions will help you meet every test in life knowing that your wounds and scars don’t label you; they anoint you. Once you live through pain in life, you are that much more ready to be powerful in life. Sound familiar? Pain-2-Power. That’s what life is all about.
There is responsibility that comes with living through painful pages and chapters of your life—living through tests. The responsibility is to deploy the emotional, psychological and spiritual capital thus accrued, to improve the lives of others. You aren’t being transformed for nothing.
Seen this way, suffering has purpose and potential in it. It isn’t pain, pure and simple. It is a portal. Pass through it, and you will be transformed, if you let yourself.
Let yourSELF. I like capitalizing the SELF portion of the word because it speaks volumes about the journey we are all on. There is inherent power in the self, because it is one-of-a-kind, inextinguishable and capable of extraordinary performance. The SELF is what life tests actually refine and define and deploy.
How long does it take to become oneSELF? A lifetime—or longer. Because the SELF is connected with the source of everything. And the journey to it is beautifully infinite.
Dr. Keith Ablow