From Burden to Gift: How to Quickly Transform a Challenge into a Breakthrough

Photo: Danielle Einhorn @Teva Express

Photo: Danielle Einhorn @Teva Express

There's a common trait I've noticed in those who seem prone to happiness and success. You know the people I'm talking about. They have a lightness about them, that makes them feel really good to be around. They’re the ones who, if you didn't know any better, seem to just be blessed with good luck and a life of ease.

In contrast, there are also those who always seem to be stuck in some sort of crisis or discussing some sort of bad luck or circumstance they've found themselves in. Maybe you even feel yourself hopping on the complain train when you're with them (even when you hadn’t been aware anything was bothering you in the first place). They're nice enough, but for some reason you feel a drained, tired, cranky, or a heaviness after talking to them.  

One of the big differences I've noticed between those who seem blessed with ease and good fortune and those burdened with drama and bad luck, is surprisingly not the number or magnitude of difficult situations they experience, but the speed and ease in which they're able to move through and process them. 

The first group (lets call them the Poohs) are able to experience a challenge, process it, learn something, and grow at a much faster rate than the second group (we'll call them the Eeyores). The Eeyores on the other hand, tend to experience a challenge and get stuck in it for a while before they process, learn, and grow from it. And, depending on the extent of their problem or their “Eeyoreness”, it could take weeks, months, years (or maybe never) to move from the challenge to the breakthrough.

I recently found myself in a confrontational situation that really shook me up.

Rather than getting caught up in the drama of blame or victimhood, I was able to quickly shift the experience from a feeling of burden to one of breakthrough.

As I reflect back on the experience, I realize how far I've come from the Eeyore tendencies of my past. Years ago I may have spent weeks dwelling and stuck in the drama of the situation, blaming anyone or anything else I could. This time I only spent a few days doing so. My transition from Eeyore towards Pooh didn't happen over night. It was a process that evolved over years as I began incorporating some simple yet powerful practices and mindset shifts into my life.

So for all of you who experience frequent Eeyore tendencies, here are some tips to help cultivate the Pooh in you when you experience a challenging situation.

1. Experience the emotions of the situation rather than trying to bottle them up. 

Let any emotions you feel move through you by allowing yourself to experience them. Cry, yell, get sad, or angry if you must.  

Tip: I recommend doing this privately and not in the presence of anyone who may have triggered these emotions. Give yourself the time and space to process your emotions solo before you confront any person who may have been involved.

2. Talk it out with a friend.

Be clear with yourself and with them as to what you want from the conversation beforehand. Do you just want them to listen as you vent? Or are you also seeking advice?

Tip: Choose a friend who has Pooh tendencies. If you do this with an Eeyore friend they will likely escalate the drama and keep you stuck longer. If you can't think of any Pooh-like friends, maybe it's time to reevaluate who you surround yourself with. I'm part of a woman's circle where we come together weekly for the sole purpose of sharing our breakthroughs and gratitudes, and to support each other as we process our challenges. It's been transformational. 

3. Practice reflection and self-inquiry. 

Get still and quite. Get curious. Go within, and ask yourself questions like:  What can I learn from this? If there was a lesson here, what would it be? What role did I play in the situation getting to this point? How would I do things differently in the future? 

Tip: It's very helpful to write this out in a journal. Make sure you approach these questions from a place of genuine curiosity, empowerment, and growth rather than a place of victimhood or blame. On the other hand, don't force feelings you don't feel right away. If you're still in the early emotional phase of processing a difficult situation, it may feel better to start by writing about your feelings of hurt, anger, or sadness. Just know the growth will eventually come when you're ready to switch your perspective from victim to one of forgiveness and empowerment. Which leads us to #4.

4. Practice forgiveness. 

Practice self-love and compassion by releasing guilt for any role you feel you’ve played in creating the difficult situation. Also practice forgiveness towards anyone else you feel played a part in the situation. We're all human. And, it's part of the human experience to make mistakes in order to find our way back into alignment with our true selves. It's a life long cycle of mistake/challenge, forgiveness, lesson, growth. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

5. Give yourself time and space to move from challenge to breakthrough.

Be gentle with yourself. Some things take longer to work through than other things. Honor your own process and journey. Remember, moving quickly from challenge to breakthrough takes practice. I’ve been mindfully practicing it for over 5 years, and I’m far from perfect. But, like anything else, the more I practice, the better I get. 

As we get into the habit of viewing our difficult situations as opportunities for growth, rather than opportunities to complain or justify our inopportune circumstances, we start to experience faster growth and begin to encounter more happiness and success in our lives.

I've been working on a project for the past several months based on the tools and practices that have taken me from feeling emotionally turbulent, unfulfilled, and disconnected in my life to feeling balanced, in control, and deeply connected to myself, others, and the guidance of the universe.

If you're interested in learning more, enter your info below and I'll add you to my list so you'll be amongst the first to know more. 

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