We’ve all been through painful experiences.
We’ve all been torn apart and shoved to the sidelines where loneliness and depression seem like the only two emotions left for us to grasp on to.
We’ve all tried to push through the boundaries of societal limitations only to be let down and disappointed by a lack of support or encouragement.
We’ve all been told that our work will never amount to anything, that we’re insane for even daring to try – that we’re just naive to the harsh realities of everyday life. That we are way too full of ourselves.
And most definitely – we’ve all had to endure the pain and emotional damage that comes along with caring too much about a certain someone or something.
That’s just how life works…
The loss of a loved one, the loss of a business, the loss of your financial stability, the loss of your privacy, the loss of your health… Loss…
It seems like we’re always losing something.
And these painful experience can really put a dent in our psyche.
On October 9, 2012 in Pakistan – a young girl named Malala Yousafzai was on her way back home from school on the public school bus. What she didn’t know was that there was a man on the bus as well who was set out to kill her.
As he made his way up to her and pulled out his gun – the man shot Malala in the head without any hesitation, leaving her in critical condition.
Fast forward to today, and you can find Malala spending every waking moment fighting for the cause of women & children’s rights all around the globe.
In fact, she was just awarded the nobel peace prize for her impressive work.
Remarkable individuals like Malala all had to go through their own painful experiences to achieve everything they were set out to achieve. In fact, most would admit that these experiences are the reason why they’ve been able to achieve so much. These experiences are what pushed them to become the best that they can possibly become.
To live up to their greatest potential regardless of what was in their way.
They could have all just easily given up.
They could have all just said –
‘Screw this. I’m out of here’.
But they didn’t.
And that is the only reason why they are where they are today.
Here’s the kicker though.
There’s only one thing that separates the ones who see their painful experiences as a curse and the ones who truly see them as gifts… gifts that they can use to their advantage and turn a destructive situation into a thriving one.
And that one thing is the meaning you give your painful experiences.
Let’s take two men as an example.
They are both in the exact same situation and live within the same area code.
They’ve both just lost their jobs.
One of them decides to sulk in the shame and take his own life, leaving behind a wife and kids who now have to deal with the pain of losing a loved one.
Here, the meaning he gave this painful experience is as such:
‘I’m not worthy. I don’t deserve good things. There’s no point to my life’.
The other man does things a little differently.
Instead of giving up, he decides to start his own business and work twice as hard Here, the meaning he gives this painful experience is:
‘I just lost my job, but that’s ok. Maybe this is a sign that I should be doing more. That I need to raise my standards and do things my own way’.
Do you see the difference?
While the first man saw the loss of his job as a sign that he is not worthy, the second man saw it as the greatest opportunity that has ever come his way.
The only difference is a change in the meaning they gave their experiences.
Malala could have easily given up when she was shot. But instead she gave this experience a meaning so powerful that it changed the way she saw the world.
She saw it as an opportunity to stand up for women & children’s rights.
She made it her obligation to live to tell the tale and help as many people as she possibly can to do the same – even when her life was at stake. There is no doubt that you’ve been through your fair share of painful experiences.
And you will continue to do so for a very long time to come.
But what meaning are you allowing it to have in your life?
Think about it.
And try find it in yourself to always choose the better meaning.
Perhaps it will change your life in more ways than you could imagine.