At first glance it would seem that this phrase is rather the product of the mind of a masochist addicted to pain and suffering, or a melancholy lover of lost causes. However, it is a phrase that holds a great wisdom.
1. What impact did this painful experience had in your life?
2. Did you learn something new about yourself, for instance in your way of thinking, your ideas, values, or your priorities in life?
3. Did you learn something about yourself and your relationship with your love ones? Maybe learn to appreciate the little things of life?
4. What impact this experience had in your emotions and feelings?
5. And if you are spiritual person, did your spiritual life as a result of this experience?
Now, let’s begin with the topic:
Why pain and adversity makes us strong?
Recent studies in psychology and biology, are confirming what our grandparents knew intuitively: that the exposure to pain and suffering of life, makes us stronger, and psychologically more resilient persons.
In psychology, this phenomenon is refereed as human resilience. Resiliency is the ability of an individual to face painful events or adversities and grow and mature as a result of them. This psychological quality was “discovered” when researchers observed children, who despite having grown dysfunctional family environments, suffered physical and psychological abuse, and poverty, they were able to overcome these adverse conditions and become “normal” and productive and relatively well adjust adults
It is thanks to resiliency, people is able to bounce back from life set backs and adversities. There countless stories of people that have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses, yet they are able to find a “new meaning to life”, to experience happiness and to enjoy live even in the mist midst of their unfortunate circumstances. We also know people who suffered childhood “traumatic” experiences, or people who have suffered loss of a loved one, lost their jobs and not only are able to survive these set back and adversities but also are able to “discover” learn to “the meaning of the experience, or its possible “advantage” or “value” of those events in their lives.
Studies in evolutionary psychology-science that studies the development and evolution of human psychological qualities- have found that the ability to confront adversity, and grow and mature as a result of them is a innate human quality that been genetically transmitted over generations. That is, all human being are born with the potential and predisposition to develop a resilient personality-resistant. Also, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientist have also discovered that human resiliency is strengthened when an individual is exposed to small “doses” of adversity, and pain in their lives. Furthermore, they have discovered that the psychological resiliency is a human psychological skill that behaves like a muscle. That is it’s, this muscle tends to grows and strengthens as an individual confront and succeed in overcoming adverse situations in their daily lives. That is at more adverse situations more opportunity to exercise their muscle of resiliency and therefore growth and development.
But, how we can exercise and make to grow this muscle?
There are moments in our lives when we feel overwhelmed by things that happen to us. During those times, we need a mind set and psychological skill that help us. We need to count with the appropriate mental skills that enable us to transform negative events into learning opportunities to grow and mature emotionally and psychologically. It is during these moments that we are able to “exercise our muscle” of resilience.
Find the potential benefits of experience
• Think about the things that you still have the opportunity to enjoy despite of the situation. Focus your attention in the things that you have rather that in the things that you have “lost”.
• Try to find the potential benefits or positive things of the situation
• Think about the possible benefits that this event may have in personal values, life priorities, in your health and well being, and in your relationships with friends and family.
Think about the possible spiritual meaning of this event
• Think how this event may be teaching something important about yourself, your life, and your relationship with people.
• Reflect and discover the possible spiritual meaning the experience. “Ask yourself, what this experience is trying to teach me about my life, my values, my priorities, habits and so on.
• Think about the potential benefits of this event. For example this event might help you discover or re-discover your personal values, mission, your purpose of life, dreams and so on.
• Think about how this experience could be “preparing you” psychologically and spiritually to live a more meaningful life.
Thinks that life is nothing but a process of constant learning
Remind yourself that every experience, either “positive” or “negative” we are able discover and learn something new. Think that each day represents wonderful opportunity for enriching our lives, to learn, to grow in order to live more fulfilling and satisfying life.
You can achieve thinking “saying to yourself as follows:
• “The situation is difficult but it is not the end of the world”
• “There is no evil that lasts a hundred years or so sick that resists”
• “I’ve survived similar situations in the pas and this time I will survive too”
• something good will come of this experience,”
“Life continues and as long as there is life there is hope”
Learn to appreciate even the small things in life
Jonathan Haiti and Docker-Kelnar found that people that consistently express gratitude and a sense of abundance in their lives, are more capable of appreciating the little things of life, and therefore, are generally happier. They also found that living a life with gratitude and appreciation makes people stronger and more resistant to the unavoidable painful and adverse events in our life.
Every day, think about three things for which your are grateful. Focus on the positive events of your life. Just by thinking and “savoring’ the small and big things in our life, make our life richer and make us feel stronger and happier. By learning to be grateful to life help us to fight the natural tendency to minimize the good things that happen in our lives.
Look for opportunities in your daily life to learn, grow and mature emotionally
Confronting challenges in our daily lives gives us the opportunity to develop new skills and abilities. Life can be our best training camp to learn and to strengthening our ability to confront and overcome potentially painful events in the future. By looking, and even creating opportunities for learning and refining new personal skills- exercising our resiliency muscle- we become stronger and more resilient person. And our resiliency muscle gets stronger to overcome the painful experiences that life present to us.
These activities will help strengthen your “resilience muscle.” Remember, that when you are exposed “controlled doses” of stress and adversity (Hormesis), this will strengthen you emotionally and will prepare you to confront and overcome the “small and big” adversities and challenges of your life
“See” you next week
Latino Wisdom- for Happiness and success