Why Adversity Is Really A Gift
All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. — Walt Disney
It’s 2013; the business I own is struggling big time. For the first time in its twenty-year existence, it’s breaking new unwanted records: dropping in revenue, gross margins, and, ultimately, how much cash enters my pockets.
When adversity hits us, we start to ask questions. The harder it hits us, the deeper our questions become.
Sometimes, those questions end up being unexpected gifts that take us where we need to go next — where our souls demand we go. We tend to run away from these difficult questions. Our thinking is based on our fight or flight mode that is deep-rooted in our reptilian brain and questions that confront our way of life disturbs that part of our psyches.
Now, strange questions popped into my mind as I sat down with my family at the end of the day for dinner, watching them chatting and laughing — happily immersed in a sense of joy and abundance that was evaporating for me.
Can we still afford these great places we travel to? Can we even afford the University Tuition coming up for my son?
After a while, I began sleeping badly, with more new questions on my mind– questions I’d never needed to worry about before.
The deeper, more difficult ones-the ones that sting.
Why didn’t I save for a rainy day like that son of a bitch I mocked regularly? Why did I squander so much on things that didn’t serve me? Why did I keep this pretense of satisfaction through materialism for so long?
And the biggest question of all — why is this happening now? When I thought I had overcome the survival level of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” and was on the path of self-actualization?
Is this a necessary detour?
I sat with those questions. I meditated on them. I ran with them. I reflected on them so much I resembled a robot for months.
Then one morning I had this great a-ha moment.
Adversity is a gift from the Universe.
It is a gift, but only when you see it as a hurdle to be overcome, rather than a block.
It is a gift if you see it as point where the universe is pushing you to change your road map.
We live our lives just like a rocket going to the moon. It is off course about 95% of the time — and it gets there only because of constant, tiny re-adjustments along the way.
The Gifts of Adversity are those things that seem like detours, but which turn out to be tiny re-adjustments that help guide us to our destination.
They start of as little hints, and then become stronger messages, and if you continue to ignore them, they finally hit you hard as adversities.
That small car accident was saying something. You ignored it.
Your amazing partner leaves you. You ignored it.
Then the shocking news that you have cancer, and finally you take notice — and yet, amazingly, you may still not do anything.
We are enslaved by our ego, which has paralyzed us with fears, self-pity and resentment.
We already know that our old ways of living are not serving our new ways of being.
We know that this fight with our ego is not a battle but an all-out war where we have no chance without summoning our higher self.
In times like these, I have learned to summon my higher self by:
1. Processing Feelings
I understand that sometimes I need to feel pain. I know that I need to fully experience these difficult experiences.
I need to make tough decisions, look people in the eye, and compassionately say “I’m really sorry, but the business can’t afford you anymore.”
I need to tell my kids that we can’t afford the holiday trips, even if all their friends are going.
We need to go through the motions and be with our pain.
2. Be Vulnerable
I accept that I messed up, and I hold my imperfections with love and compassion. I understand that my acts were wrong but know that does not mean I was bad. I understand that no one is perfect, and that I did the best I could with what I knew.
I do not allow my self-esteem to fall, for in this universe, I am perfect.
I open up, cry to those who have earned the right to hear my stories and tell them about my shame, knowing that I can only heal when I bring the dark emotions out in the open. We must understand that by being vulnerable not only heals us but allows new possibilities which we never knew existed.
3. Remove certainty and expectations
Probably the biggest thief of happiness out there today is the weight of wanting things in a certain way.
Before these difficulties, I tried to impose certainty on everything I did, and with that sense of certainty came many expectations. These expectations paralyzed me, and did not allow me to be present and fully alive. I was stuck in the regrets of the past, and the fears of the future.
I had forgotten the excitement of uncertainty, like the uncertainty that comes with a first kiss, the thrill of a new business venture, or simply staying up all night doing absolutely nothing of worth.
Instead of focusing on certainty, today we must embrace the uncertainty.
I realize now that I need to live consciously and be very aware in everything I am doing, from the way I treat my body, to the way I connect with people.
I need to have a meaning, a purpose and some big intentions on how and what I want to create with my life. So I consistently challenge myself, with more new questions:
What keeps me in the highest vibration all the time?
Is my business really what I want to do now?
Are the relationships I have serving my real truth?
What are my unique gifts? What am I here to do? How can I serve humanity?
Without adversity, it’s easy to avoid those big questions, even when our body and energy levels have been whispering them for months. The universe is telling us blatantly that we have had our fun, and now it’s time for the real work.
5. Be creative
The adversity of the past few months has also been an opportunity for me, to acknowledge that creativity has been missing from my life for a long time.
By silencing the ego and developing our connection with the right side of the brain, the creativity will flow — and creativity, along with self-expression, is one of our basic needs. Just as love and belonging are.
6. Have faith
Now that I have listened to my heart and can see new possibilities emerging for myself, I must have faith in them and the belief that the universe is on my side.
There will be naysayers, certainly. I know that I need to follow my new intentions till the end, and allow my higher self to guide me even when I can’t see clearly.
Our faith will be tested, and just when we think all is well and we start resting on our laurels, the Universe will test us again. But our faith must not waiver.
As I look back at this curveball of an adversity that was thrown at me, I feel excited, and worried, but this time I’m all in to play.