This is one that came to me just a few days after my husband’s death. As I watched my children moping around and I remembered a Bible verse that always baffled me. “Rejoice in your suffering”. WHAT? Yeah that’s what I thought too. But it went on to say that “suffering produces perseverance” and “perseverance character” and “character hope” and “hope does not disappoint”. Ok. So if I can rejoice in my suffering I will produce perseverance and that perseverance will produce character in me and that character in me will produce hope. So I sat my children down, gave them that Bible verse, asked them some questions about whether they thought their father was sad where he was and then asked them to see if they could find anything in this situation for which we could rejoice.
I believe psychologists refer to this process as reframing a situation. Some people say to look for the silver lining in every cloud. Whatever you want to call it, it is important to find some good in your situation.
Look for the positives
Trust me if my young children can come up with several positive things that came out of the death of their father, then surely you too can find something good in this situation. Even now 15 years later my chlidren and I might have a conversation about the things we’ve done because their father died that we would never have experienced had he still been alive. Rather than them choosing to get stuck in the victim role always angry that their father was not here, they are able to see the positives in their lives they never would have experienced had he lived and our lives taken a different path.
Did you lose a job? Maybe that frees you up to pursue something you are really passionate about? Did a relationship end? Maybe it’s better that it ended now so you are free to find your right partner. Whatever has happened, surely there is something you can be thankful for.
The difference between people who go through a tragedy and allow that tragedy to destroy their lives or to propel them into a new prosperous future seems to be all about attitude. Allow the challenge to grow your character.
Learn the lesson
If you cannot come up with one positive thing at all, then you can always look at the situation as a learning opporutnity. Successful people don’t see failure as failure but as a lesson learned. Sometimes the lesson is, “this did not work”. That’s fine. Edison didn’t invent a successful lightbulb on his first try. He went through thousands of experiments using different elements all of which failed. Edison chose to see them as learning what doesn’t work rather than failures.
Maybe the relationship that ended taught you something about yourself? Maybe you realize that what you are looking for in a relationship is different than what you previously thought. Learning what you want and what you don’t want is important.