Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Our Challenges: The worst or best thing to happen to us?

by Barbara Steingas

Chelsea No.3, by Sean David Wright
When we don’t feel worthy of health, happiness, joy and love, challenges tend to leave us feeling victimized. We end up feeling we have no power over our circumstances and have no choice but come to some form of resigned acceptance of our life. However, we have a choice over what we make of any situation. Instead of becoming powerless victims to our circumstances, what if we realized that we have the ability and power to make a choice of how we respond and deal with the situation, of what we make it mean, and how we are going to move forward?
Stories of overcoming challenges have been part of the human experience since the dawn of man. One story that is consistent in all indigenous cultures was uncovered by Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero With A Thousand Faces; the quest to overcome challenges and evil, thereby ultimately becoming the great hero or warrior. This journey is one we all participate in, but because these stories have trained us to believe only a select few are allowed to be the hero or heroine, we have come to believe that if we don't immediately succeed compared to our peers, we are the victim of our personal stories.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)This was true for me when I was confronted with a serious illness that was considered incurable. At first, I believed the story of incurability and quickly fell victim to my circumstances. I didn’t question anything and naively believed what I was told. I felt it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me and at some point I would die an early death.  Over time, I got tired of the blind acceptance and I had my epiphany or ah-ha moment. I refused to be a victim and I set out to become the heroine of my own journey. I found my way back to health by making small changes at first.  Eventually I overcame my demons and challenges, become the victor over a seemingly impossible situation and became more than I could have ever dreamed.
Because I chose to take the road less traveled, I discovered that what I thought was the worst thing to ever happen to me was actually a blessing in disguise and one of the best experiences. It made me the person I am today. I found my mission in life by applying what I learned to help those on similar journeys, hopefully sparing them some of the suffering by sharing my own experiences. That is a wonderful feeling and gives my suffering meaning and purpose.
The challenges of my journey have allowed me to expand my heart and ability to love myself and to love others. I feel that is the ultimate reason we are here and are made to go through life’s challenges. When we ride out the storms of our biggest challenges, we can reap our greatest rewards by allowing our light to shine more brightly, becoming more than we thought we could ever be.
Giving back after a traumatic experience is the final, and one of the most important steps, to any long-term recovery program.  No matter whether suffering from a disease like Crohn’s or a disease like alcoholism, helping others through the stages of their journey to recovery encourages us to continue that personal work ourselves as we become a role model for others.
Barbara Steingas
Live a Radiant Life - Tips to improve health, happiness & joy

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