As you know, I am fascinated with how people respond to adversity. We all have our share of ‘stuff’, some seemingly more than others, but it’s in the How we go about living through it that is of great interest to me. As I once read in a book called Why Me by Pesach Kraus, “some people become bitter, others better.” Therein lies the challenge. Change around one letter and you’ve got the key difference: some succumb to the pain and get stuck in that deep dark well, others find ways to go on and grow and make something of their life despite/because of/ and through the pain.
Turn back the clock just a bit- I’m 18. I remember the scene well. It was a pleasant summer day at the park. My friend and I were sitting by the water grappling with the question of how so much adversity could befall one person, his mother. She had a son born with cerebral palsy who died in his early twenties in a car accident; one mastectomy followed by a suicide attempt; and years later a second mastectomy.
We of course talked about the age-old philosophical dilemma of bad things happening to good people.
But in light of the good life she eventually created for herself in her later years, our talks centered on her growth and positive outlook that she had been able to develop. I was struck by how she could do it; how she could take all that bad and turn it around to develop positive directions in her life. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know her long enough to really explore this with her.
When I now think back to when this interest of mine began, I go back to this scene and to thinking about this woman. This was one of those defining times.
She suffered so much loss and yet she was able to rise above her misfortunes and build a good and meaningful life.
Loss and pain can stimulate growth and change. It is this growth in the light of loss that can be inspirational and uplifting.
Loss hits in many ways. We commonly think of it in terms of a death but it encompasses anything of value that is taken away. Divorce where the marriage has been lost, illness where one’s health has been taken or compromised, unemployment where one’s job is gone, a major move where one has lost his social network, familiarity and overall security attached to a home are all losses.
All these require adaptation. We have to move from what Was to what Is. It’s here that growth and change come into play.
But we first have to grieve the loss. This concept of grief will be expanded upon in my next post.
The movie, The Artist, is a wonderful example of man’s tremendous difficulty in adapting to what is from his loss of what was. The end of the silent film was a huge loss for him. When everyone else was moving ahead to the world of talking movies, he remained stuck, couldn’t adapt to the new, couldn’t deal with the overwhelming feelings of grief and spiraled down into self-destruction. (See the movie for the ending.)
What losses have you had that have been difficult to adjust to? How have you managed?
This is my specific area of interest so if you are in need of some extra support or help in adapting to a new reality, I’m only a phone call, skype, or beach/coffee shop (if you’re in my neck of the woods) away.
Thanks for stopping by.