There is no doubt that we learn and grow through experience. “Experience is the mother of all learning,” so the saying goes. Most psychologists would add to that statement and say that we learn the most during difficult and painful experiences.
The typical question we ask when life gets tough is “why?” “Why is this happening to me?” “Of all possible times, why now?” As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, how we respond to the typical question “why” will make all the difference in reaching our full potential.
Some answers to the question “why” are pretty easy to figure out and relatively direct. Why did I wreck the car? Well, I was texting and driving. Why did I fail the test? Well, I did not study. Why did we not reap an abundant harvest this year? Well, we did not spend time preparing the land, cultivating the crops during the growing season, and we were just hoping the fall would bring forth a great harvest.
Many times there is not a logical or practical response around the “why” question:
- Why am I or a loved one suffering a life threatening disease or illness?
- Why are some of my closest relationships continuing to struggle?
- After 15 years of hard work, why was I the next person called during the downsizing?
- Why can’t I just catch a break every once in a while?
The cold, hard reality in this life is that we will never know the answer to many of the difficult “whys” is our lives.
Below are a few thoughts to help walk down a more effective path when we face difficult times and want to ask why:
- It is quite typical to ask “why me” and “why now” during a struggle. We should not beat ourselves up for being human and asking the “why me” question every now and again. It is not helpful to linger a long time with these questions, but it is ok to acknowledge we are human and the question is in the back of our minds from time to time.
- Acknowledge the reality that there probably is not an easy, logical explanation for the present struggle. Simply playing the “it is their fault” blame game on complex issues such as close relationships or work related struggles is not helpful. There is usually enough responsibility to go all around on the complex struggles in life.
- Gain perspective and peace quickly that there is an opportunity to learn and grow in the pain and struggle. The one gift that is there for the taking in difficult times is the learning and personal growth we can receive as an outcome from the experience. When we can develop a mindset of continually personal growth, we can ensure we are on a path to reach our full potential
- Focus on moving forward. We know there will be unavoidable difficulties and painful experiences that we will encounter. There will definitely be things we said or did that we genuinely wish we could take back and ‘do over.’ However, there are no ‘do overs’ in the life we are living. We just need to keep moving forward in the direction of our hopes and dreams.
Life can only be lived in the present moment. As we focus on learning and growing instead of trying to answer the “why” questions, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to build healthy relationships and the chance to have a positive impact on those around us.