I'm an avid enthusiast when it comes to self-help and positive thinking. There's a lot to be said for both.
But a long time ago I found that there's a lot more to survival in this world than these have to offer.
As a freelance writer and an entrepreneur I've had ample opportunity and lots of hard knocks to test my personal theories. While they may not work for you, I suggest you might want to think about the lessons I've learned.
Positive Thinking Will Get You Only So Far.
That's right. You must be an expert at positive thinking. And, it's important to be able to see the silver lining in all the "challenges" life has to throw your way. But that does not mean that you won't – or shouldn't – feel the pain. When you've given your all and have been beaten down by "the system" or un-ethical practices and practitioners, of course, you're going to be frustrated and angry. If you're not, then I'd suggest it's time for you to go back to Being Human 101.
I've been there. You have, too. State practices choose not to recognize your years of experience and education in your chosen career.and you find yourself forced to start over from scratch.. A co-author steals your share of the royalties from the book you worked on. An unethical customer spreads vicious lies attempting to undercut your credibility and self-esteem. And then there are lots of examples of relationships gone sour because a lover, parent or child fails to live up to our expectations..
They're just some if the many examples of the kinds of challenges life has to throw our way when we try to accomplish anything significant with our lives. My point is not to make me – or you – feel worse.
The Point Is: Shit Happens, Pure And Simple.
Bad things happen. They hurt. And, inevitably, for a period of time, even the strongest of us goes into a tailspin – for awhile. But the pain and anguish that results actually are the best possible gifts we can ever receive.
It's true, eventually, you need to look for the silver lining (I'm not going to offer you any magic bullets for that step – I'll lave that for the self-help gurus).. But, before you reach for the latest and greatest self-help book, it's important to feel the pain – and embrace it. This is where the growth takes place.
If you don't believe me – take that prized house plant of yours out into the sunshine for a breath of fresh air. If you haven't hardened it, you can expect that within a day or two it will become dehydrated and sun burnt. Why? Because it had no reason to develop the survival skills needed to survive the elements.
If you're a gardener, you've seen this phenomenon play out a different way. You plant marigold seeds one year and get a nice crop of flowers. Winter comes…spring arrives and by mid-summer you discover that you have a whole new crop of flowers that you didn't plant. They came from the seeds of the previous year's flowers that dropped to the ground, weathered the brutal winter months….and, now, much to your surprise, you have the most spectacular marigolds you could ever imagine – far more robust and glorious than you ever hoped for. They are breathtakingly beautiful. The examples of this phenomenon are everywhere in nature.
Or, perhaps you want something a little bit closer to home. When you were a child you probably got chickenpox. Man, that was traumatic, right? But while the pox took you to your knees for awhile, you did come out of it. And, in the end your body developed immunities that helped you avoid even more traumatic illnesses. That same principle is employed when we get inoculations for measles, flue and others…introduce a virus to build immunity. It works.
But let's get back to that pain and positive thinking as they relate to your business, career and relationships..
In the process of embracing the pain you grow strong and confident. You develop and refine new skills that help you to cope. You gradually develop skills that allow you to grow beyond and those skills enable you to move forward ever more confidently who you are, where you're going and new, better ways to get there. Sure it is uncomfortable for awhile. But the ultimate rewards when you finally do start moving toward that silver lining, will be far beyond anything a magic bullet or quick fix can offer.