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What Happens When Life’s Problems Push You To Grow

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What problems and challenges have taught you essential life lessons?

In one of her songs about life and romance, Sheryl Crow sings sadly in the chorus, “No one said it would be easy, but no one said it would be this hard.” She’s singing about having a relationship with a difficult man, and how this coupled with how little money they earn makes life almost impossible. And we’ve all faced similar problems. Sometimes, you’re unemployed; other times, you’re struggling with depression; other times, you have family members facing dangerous illnesses. Life throws challenges at us, and it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

But there is a silver lining to these problems, and it’s that you grow from them. If you’ve ever faced a challenge and come out of it a better person, you know what we mean. Here are just a few examples.

Losing a job

Another big challenge in life–and one that pales in comparison to losing someone close to you–is losing your job. Depending on where you are financially, this can affect you in different ways. For example, if you’re running your own company, and you go bankrupt, it’s going to affect everything in your life: being able to pay off your mortgage, your relationships with your family and the people who work with you, and your reputation in your field. If it’s this big of a loss, you’re going to hit rock bottom for a while. You might have an identity crisis, and feel like you aren’t good at anything.

But this is exactly your chance to rebuild. When you’re at rock bottom, you can only go up. Learn from your mistakes, whether it was putting too many eggs in one basket or getting funding from the wrong people. Create a new business. 90 percent of new startups failed in 2017, so there’s no shame in your first business going under–it’s normal. Especially if you’re young, losing a job at an office where you work for someone else probably wasn’t the best fit anyway, and you can reinvent yourself and figure out what you want.

Going through a breakup

Being broken up with is one of life’s hardest challenges. Whether you’re getting a divorce and have to fight for custody of your kids or you’re in your twenties and suddenly have to pack all your stuff into boxes, it’s hard. You feel like you aren’t worth anything, no matter what your friends say, and you miss the person you left behind. You stay up late at night and wonder, “Why? Aren’t I good enough?”

It’s a painful process, but eventually, you’ll learn that you are good enough. The person who broke up with you didn’t appreciate you, even though you have a lot to offer. And as time passes, you’ll understand this better. You’ll start doing what you love again, and you’ll embrace being single by spending more time with your friends, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or getting that masters degree you always wanted. You’ll become who you are again, and meet someone who better suits who you are.

And remember: 70 percent of straight unmarried couples break up within the first year, and in large part, this is because when couples are tested, they realize they aren’t right for each other. But someone is!

The death of a loved one

Someone close to us dying–whether it’s a spouse, parent, boyfriend, or family pet–is a huge challenge to anyone. You’re going to experience grief, it’s going to come in waves large and small, and the feelings you experience will be strong and unexpected. You’ll find yourself distracted at work, and forgetting small things like packing your kids’ lunch in the morning. This is all part of the grieving process, and you need to process it however it feels natural to you. Remember: it does get easier the more time passes.

And at a certain point, you’ll find that you appreciate life more. There are moments when you find yourself looking at a piece of art or looking out at the sunset, and you remember that person and appreciate it more because of that. There is nothing worse than losing someone you love, but it does force you to grow and appreciate your place in the world. In the US, the majority of deaths occur at age 85 or over, so luckily this is a problem we don’t have to face very often.

According to Dr. Zwig, “To truly transform a problem, you have to amplify your experience, explore it, and unfold its meaning, not repress the symptoms.” Life throws challenges at us, but by understanding them and living within them, we’ll grow–and be ready for the good and the bad when it comes our way.

What problems and challenges have taught you essential life lessons?