Ask yourself lots of questions.
Adversity can serve you in positive ways, and one of the best ways to open yourself up and leverage negative experiences is by asking questions like:
- How can I use this experience to learn (and change) something about myself? Positive or negative, our experiences are our guides and teachers, and can help us, if we pay attention to the lessons, to improve the quality of our lives.
- How could this negative experience affect me in a positive way?This can be a challenging question to ask when you feel stuck in the middle of an uncomfortable situation. But being a partner with your pain allows you to open up to the beneficent possibilities instead of merely wallowing in the negativity.
- How will this make me a stronger person? It’s not about handling difficult circumstances better than others (a mere ego boost), but how an expanded perspective empowers you to be a more capable and resilient spouse, parent, employee, entrepreneur, etc.
- How does this negative event (and my reaction to it) reflect my life purpose? Sometimes, what we initially perceive as being an obstacle is actually a guide changing our course and steering us to our true path.
- What’s the opportunity in the negative experience? Personal/professional growth? Developing a thicker skin? Service to others? Connection? A call to adventure? A mindset shift? Reassessing negative situations means converting them into something productive.
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” ~ William James
If not for the negative event itself, be grateful for the insight or lesson learned. Being present in the moment and appreciating all aspects of your life can act as a calming salve when times get rough.
And remember: finding the silver lining in every cloud doesn’t mean ignoring feelings associated with the event-quite the opposite. It means acknowledging and experiencing those feelings fully AND leveraging them to your advantage.
Giving meaning to events, both positive and negative ones, is empowering. A positive life skill is gained when we realize that for every single thing that happens in our lives we get to choose whether it’s good or bad, whether it will weaken or strengthen us.