We often see a great emphasis from attention grabbing headlines on the various disappointments and sufferings we endure during our journey. The tragedies seem to garner the most views, clicks, and “stickiness factor” for advertisers.
On a more personal level, some of these are relatively light-hearted sufferings like a missed plane, a canceled meeting, or the important phone call that was dropped while navigating a big-city traffic jam. However, many of us would classify some sufferings as almost too much to endure, like the untimely death of a loved one, a parent holding the hand of a terminally ill child, the heartbreaking destruction of a once close family, or the addiction that resulted in a tragic ending.
Although we all hope to avoid a great deal of pain and suffering in this world, the reality is that we all will endure our share of suffering. Most of us will find a way to carry on, some in silence and some with a loud roar. There is no escaping disappointment, discouragement, and suffering. Our typical pathway to addressing suffering is to rally our own strength, perhaps we are fortunate to gain some encouragement from others close to us, and we endure the journey with the hope that we will somehow continue to grow stronger through the experience.
As we continue on our journey to be our best for those we care about most, there is a another side of suffering that is helpful to address. This other side of suffering is an opportunity to grow in empathy towards the suffering of others in order to be a genuine and relevant source of comfort to those in need.
When we walk through the valley of suffering, as opposed to growing bitter or spending too much precious energy on the endless wondering of “why me,” we have an opportunity to deeply understand the suffering of others and proactively reach out to help them find comfort in their own troubled time.
There is often no greater connection that can be made with someone suffering through a difficult family experience than one who also has walked through that experience. Those who have endured the financial hardship of a painful bankruptcy are often the most effective in guiding others through the experience of rebuilding their credit and confidence. Who better to support and encourage someone struggling with addiction than someone who has walked down that same road?
Those who have endured a particular hardship are very often the most helpful to relate to the needs of those dealing with a similar struggle. The other side of suffering can be an opportunity to build and strengthen our character and have a positive impact on others when we make a decision to:
- Make the choice to grow in empathy towards the suffering of others as opposed to growing bitter through our own experience.
- Act on an opportunity to make a connection with someone who is enduring a similar struggle to our own.
- Grow stronger, not just by enduring our own struggle, but also by the truth that being a comfort to others in need grows our own capacity to live a more abundant life.
As we leverage the experience of our own suffering to help others in need, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to have a positive impact in this world.
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