Silver Linings

In efforts to use my cellphone more purposefully, I recently downloaded an app that sends me daily positive affirmations. I use these positive statements to jump start my day, allowing my soul to consume and interpret it as needed for my well-being and that particular space in my life. The affirmation for today was “I appreciate the ones who have helped me, as well as crushed me, for I am stronger and better because of them”. This made me sit back and think about the many different people we encounter over our lifetimes. Some people make such an impact on our lives, either in a good or “bad” way, that we are transformed forever.

When I think about the people in life who have helped me, the list is long but comes to me quickly: foster parents, adoptive mother, my partner, certain teachers/professors, friends and family, Sorors, and colleagues/coworkers/employees. So many people have helped me by pouring into my life, creating with me an experience that shaped my thoughts/views or taught me something valuable simply by living an admirable life. I have always had help, whether I wanted it or not, despite if I asked for help or it was simply given. I acknowledge that I would not have been able to see thirty years without the help of people who love me, want the best for my life, and treat me as though I am worthy and important. I am eternally grateful for those helpers in my life. It is because I have always had the help of others, that I became a professional helper, a social worker.  I will never underestimate the power of extending a helping hand to someone in need; even if they have not recognized the need themselves.

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Recognizing who has helped in our lives is relatively easy. To think about and thank those who have helped us is no challenge. Pointing out who has helped us become stronger and better through their help, good deeds and well wishes, is simple. What is often difficult, though equally as important, is to think about who in our lives have we viewed as someone who hurt us and is it possible that through their hurtful actions, they gave us something good and positive? When we think about those who have helped make us strong and our best self, we tend to omit those who have crushed us; thinking they gave us nothing but heartache, pain, traumas, and negativities. However, we should take time to consider the good things crushing people gave us. What are the silver linings in the clouds and gloominess of our most painful relationships/experiences? Making the list of those who have done us wrong, abandoned or disappointed us, mistreated and abused us, searching those circumstances for the lesson or good there and then being thankful for the tenacity we’ve developed because of all of this, is a key to growth and change.

When we think of those who crushed us, it can be hard to find the good in them. This skill to see the good in all situations and people does not develop overnight; it often takes time and true self-work to begin to view our most difficult or painful times as anything but hurtful. Being able to truly see the silver lining in the situations means asking ourselves,”What qualities would I not have developed without being hurt by that person? What experiences would I have missed out on without going through that tough time?”. Maybe the parents who weren’t there for us, encouraged a spirit of independence; consider that the teachers who did not believe in us, maybe they each fostered drive and motivation to always give 100%. Perhaps the failed relationships make us available for when real love arrives. It is possible the friends that betray us teach us how to build trust with others; it is even conceivable, that the company that lets us go is the jump start to discovering our purpose in life.  

Each “bad”, (though I’m learning to view no situation or circumstance as bad, only as challenging and life-changing), experience in life has an underlying gift. It is up to us to intentionally and purposefully search for the good in every not-so-good person and situation when presented. When we can look at each “crushing” experience in life and find the lesson or blessing, we then develop a spirit of resilience that guides us to triumph over the trials and challenges we will inevitably face in our lives.

Take time this week to reframe the people or circumstances that may have crushed you at one point. What have you learned from that? How did that make you a better person? How did that make you better and stronger?