How To Find Meaning During Challenging TimesMay 20, 2023
Trusting Yourself in Tough Times
Thought of the week:
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh
In this week's Dose, I share how to use challenging times to become who you're meant to be.
Whether it's losing your job, a recession, a bad breakup, a toxic boss, or you're in a mental slump, challenging times are an essential part of life.
It's the times that suck in the moment but are always a beautiful lesson in hindsight.
The ones we feel like we'll never be able to escape, but then couldn't imagine who we'd be without having gone through it.
In last week's cohort calls, we discussed how to choose what we want THOSE specific moments in our life to mean. An approach that says if the circumstance we're going through is shitty either way, we might as well choose to make it MEAN something positive.
To make it mean something FOR us.
Because here's the thing with challenging times, they're going to happen either way. There IS no avoiding them.
Part of this beautiful experience that is human life involves deep pain. And there's nothing wrong with that.
To pour yourself into your work, your company, your coworkers, and your customers only to get laid off...
What a kick in the nuts.
And it's important to allow yourself to feel all the shittiness of these circumstances. Because the lessons are IN the shittiness. The FUEL for your growth is found IN the shittiness. Listen to THOSE feelings and go deep.
Those feelings are your Yoda.
Remember, feelings & emotions don't MEAN anything about you. They're simply feedback signals from your body.
A perfectly, beautifully designed system (when used correctly) to tell us exactly what is wrong and what we need to work on.
And then we take those grimy, shitty feelings to build resilience.
Resilience isn't about burying negative feelings, it's about not letting the challenging times fracture your self-image.
It's empowering yourself with a CHOICE. A choice backed by deep MEANING.
This obstacle that you're facing right now, what are you going to make it mean? Are you going to let it hold you back, question who you are, and second-guess the value you bring as a human?
Or are you going to allow yourself to feel down for a bit, dust yourself off, and get back on the horse?
Empower yourself by making this part of your life actually be in your favor.
To have it work FOR you.
And it's incredibly tough during shitty times to stay motivated. But motivation itself is just a feeling - so OF COURSE it's hard to feel motivated during the shit storm.
This will come back.
If challenging moments teach us anything, it's that life is short and uncertain. There's no guarantee you'll be ALIVE tomorrow, let alone have a job, home, partner, friends, nest egg, etc.
If you place your sense of security & worth into things outside of you, you become susceptible to the loss of them.
Then you're left scratching your head, questioning what you thought you knew, and scrambling to pick up the pieces.
It's been ~3 years since I was fired and I remember the morning I was pacing around my basement bedroom in San Francisco, eyes full of tears, screaming into my pillow, wondering what the fuck I was gonna do next.
But in those 3 years, I turned my life around by focusing on ONE thing only.
I made a simple commitment to myself to FOLLOW MY GUT and TRUST MYSELF.
And this wasn't lip service. This was a 100% commitment even if it meant life as I knew it would completely change.
If I wanted to do something, dammit I was going to at least try it.
And though I worked my way out of depression, I still face an onslaught of challenges trying to learn how to go from demoing security camera software to launching a business.
And through those challenges, I learned the most important lesson of my life:
Our challenges aren't there to keep us down, hold us back, or prevent us from living our best life. They're trying to HELP us.
They're SHOWING us exactly where we need to grow to get stronger.
Showing us ways we can persevere, get gritty, build resilience, and overcome.
And when we fully trust ourselves to adapt & grow with faith it'll all work out...
That's when life starts to get amazing.
Life presents you with challenges to show you where you need to grow most.
And I believe the hardest challenges are reserved for the strongest people.
I have no way of proving it true, but what if that WAS the case?
How fucking empowering would that feel?
What if your challenges were trying to get you to open your eyes to what truly needs attention?
If it was simply a way of saying "HEY YOU! You still have work to do in this area of your life."
Life doesn't let up. It can't.
It sends wave after wave after wave after wave.
But here's the beauty in it all - life doesn't get easier, YOU just get better.
(and when you're better, life feels easier)
I don't say these as your drill instructor, but instead as a loving best friend:
No one is coming to save you.
No one is going to make YOU better for you.
No one is going to create your dream life FOR you.
And even if someone does feel sorry for you, what good does that do to improve your life?
The more you embrace uncertainty and the challenges of life, the more you are undeterred by them.
The more undeterred you are, the less you'll be affected by stressful situations.
The less affected you are by stressful situations, the more your confidence skyrockets, and you LEARN that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
And the moment you learn that you are in the fucking driver's seat of your life and that you have been this whole time...
You got this.