People can experience setbacks and adversity as failure and then compare themselves negatively with “successful people”. They can therefore miss the learnings and the benefits to them of the setbacks and hardships they encounter. It is often said that the successful entrepreneur is viewed from the perspective of their success story, not the reversals and financial disasters along the way. Someone whose has had a serious accident or illness and had to give on their dream in consequence may look back with regret, but not necessarily see what they’ve gained from their life so far. Yet there are those too who recover from the setback and build something new, maybe more satisfying to them than the old.
This is where we can get attached to a particular view of life that for it to be working out OK everything has to go according to plan and we must be achieving our goals. Then when those goals get frustrated or they don’t work out as we thought they would, somehow we’re disillusioned, disappointed or frustrated. The danger then can be to slide into a state of negativity, view life henceforth pessimistically and expect poor outcomes.
This is about the perspective we take and the assumptions we make. What can get missed is that those very setbacks, as we see them, actually might contain important lessons. Maybe we were too attached to the goal. Maybe we were going about it in ways that were harmful. Maybe they weren’t actually the goals that would best serve our higher purpose. Maybe we needed adversity to teach us something about ourselves and about life. Maybe we needed more humility. Maybe we’d become too arrogant or selfish or inconsiderate of others. Maybe we were just too driven and needed to slow down. Maybe now we need to see the finer things in life, that might come for example in what happens every moment, and the ultimately really important things like how we love, the company we keep, our family, or whatever it actually is that we need for our fulfillment in life.
It might be that adversity teaches you or me surrender, letting go and acceptance of what is. As John Lennon famously wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. We can miss what’s right in front of our eyes and in the moment. There’s an old saying that it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. How you show up, moment by moment.
Adversity can strengthen us and help us gain greater understanding of ourselves and others. It can get us to reassess our values and bring us closer to what really matters for us.
It’s when we need to pause, breathe, let go and be in the moment. Is this what your life is really about?
I coach people on their direction and their goals. Click here