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Growth Through Suffering: The Light I’ve Discovered in Despair

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Growth Through Suffering: The Light I’ve Discovered in Despair

What hurts makes you stronger? Maybe; it depends, really. Suffering isn't something I'd celebrate, but there seems to be some good mixed with the bad. Some treasure in the ruin and the potential for growth through suffering. Read this if you're ready to grow through everything you've lived through so far.

“The person who has had more experience of hardships can stand more firmly in the face of problems than the person who has never experienced suffering. From this angle, then, some suffering can be a good lesson for life.” — Dalai Lama

In the beginning stages after my brother's suicide, I didn't feel blessed by what happened — how absurd would that be!

I don’t think we’ll ever be grateful for having a wound like losing someone we love, but, eventually, we can be grateful for the spiritual rooms that we enter because of where our path has led. We can be grateful for the cracking open that happens as a result of having such a deep wound.

We can't reverse what happened. Here we are, having known the depths and sharp edges of loss, so what are we going to do about it?

A survivor doesn't need to be grateful for what they've survived to be grateful for the paths they’ve chosen in the wake of trauma.

Inspired by Jonathan Haidt’s book The Happiness Hypothesis, which covers the potential benefits of the “right kind” of adversity at the “right time” in one’s life, here's a list of the ways I've grown through suffering.

It's a healing exercise for me and a reminder that you, too, are made of the same light.

15 Ways I’ve Experienced Growth Through Suffering

1. I'm more confident in my ability to handle big and small problems. Having risen to the challenge of coping with loss, my self-concept has vastly improved to incorporate hidden strengths and abilities.

2. I don’t get stuck in my wounds and, if I do, I return to hope faster and easier. I realized how I had been avoiding my wounds and now practice staying with them and honoring what is, with presence and compassion.

3. I am more receptive to the help that others want to give.

4. I waste less energy on insignificant events and feelings. Trauma shut off the motivation to play with drama.

5. My closest friendships are stronger.

Opening your heart in the middle of pain and stress, and allowing yourself to fully feel, is brave. Feeling what you’re feeling is brave. Asking how you can help yourself is brave.

6. In the weeks following the loss, I resolved to live my life differently—not to stay in the corporate world where I was miserable, but to wake up with a hopefulness because I loved what I did. I stuck to that resolution. It's been harder than I expected it'd be!

7. I rebuilt the life stories that I may never have torn down voluntarily; positive self-talk became a priority, as did self-care and treating myself with compassion during hardships.

8. I feel a deeper level of strength, maturity, and wisdom unfolding from the inside.

9. I have a greater appreciation and tolerance for others. I am quicker to forgive and more compassionate with those who differ from me.

10. I'm more likely to hug people and say “I love you.”

“There is usually some good mixed in with the bad, and those who find it have found something precious: a key to moral and spiritual development.” — Jonathan Haidt

11. I wake up, more often than not, knowing life is a gift that I'd been taking for granted before. I'm not always happy, I'm stressed out a lot still, but deep down I know life is a gift. This gives me strength and purpose.

12. I intersperse daily life with more mindful moments (it’s still a struggle, but it’s a journey I hadn’t set foot on until my brother, and especially my father, passed). I meditate daily.

13. Achievement goals for achievement’s sake have lost their appeal. My intentions now revolve around how I can make a positive impact on the world in ways that I can apply my whole heart.

14. On a regular basis, I check in with my quality of life and contemplate where I really want to end up and how I want to feel along the way. I'm more aware of how I’m living inside, and I'm more intentional with my decisions and how I can take care of my own energy.

15. I began to contemplate what spirituality meant to me, which has ushered me into ever-evolving stages of growth. This direction has inspired my writing and relationships.

. . .

Tell me:

Which of these thoughts did you need to read today?

Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I’d love to know!

Know a fellow survivor? Share this post with them as an ode to their light.

With love,

Jen

P.S. Need more light today? Get my book Sleep Affirmations to open your heart to what's possible after terrible things happen. It's not just a book about sleep. You might find exactly what you need… or, well, maybe it’ll find you.

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